We Are Water: A Novel
by Wally Lamb
When TLC Book Tours presented me with the opportunity to read and review Wally Lamb’s latest novel, I jumped at the chance. His novel, She’s Come Undone, is absolutely one of my favorite novels of all time; I read it twice and adored it both times. I also read I Know This Much is True years ago, although it stands out in my memory less so than She’s Come Undone. In any case, I am a fan of Wally Lamb.
In We Are Water, Lamb does what he does best: presents us with a cast of characters who are each broken in their own way, and he gets inside their heads and skins so deftly that you forget it is one person – and a man – bringing these people to life.
At the heart of the story is Annie Oh, a middle-aged woman who has made a name for herself in the art world with her edgy, angry art. After twenty-seven years of marriage to Orion, and raising three children, Annie falls in love with the well-to-do, sophisticated art dealer who was instrumental in Annie’s success as an artist. She has left her husband and is now planning to marry the art dealer – a woman. Same-sex marriage has recently been legalized in Connecticut, but Annie’s impending marriage elicits a storm of emotional responses – not the least from Annie herself, who has spent a lifetime stuffing down a past that has threatened to destroy her, and which she is finding she can no longer outrun.
Told from the alternating points of view of Annie, her ex-husband Orion, each of their three grown children, and a few supporting characters, this is a story of utter, gut-wrenching pain, how we carry old wounds around with us, and ultimately, how the human heart and spirit can survive the very worst that life can deliver. There is some very difficult, graphic subject matter in this story – it’s not for the fainthearted, and if you’re looking for a light read, this isn’t it. But if you’re looking for a story with characters so real that you end up feeling like they’re friends, if you’re looking for a story that takes you to dark places, breaks your heart, and ultimately lifts you up, read this book.