Reviews for We Are Water

by Wally Lamb

Book list
From Booklist, Copyright © American Library Association. Used with permission.

Lamb's much-anticipated new novel explores the secrets of a Connecticut family on the occasion of mother Annie's remarriage to another woman. An artist who has found great success recycling junk into angry visual art, Annie is ambivalent about marrying Viveca, the art dealer responsible for her success. Meanwhile, Annie's ex-husband, Orion, struggles to accept Annie's remarriage and remake himself after messing up his career as a psychologist. And their kids are not exactly all right either. But, in classic Lamb fashion, this is less a story about the drama of the present or any of the various hot-button issues Lamb invokes (gay marriage, Christian Fundamentalism, Obama's presidency) than it is a lesson about how the traumas of the past play themselves out in the present, and how moral courage and religious faith are the key to overcoming that which haunts us. Here the old wounds are deep indeed abandonment, addiction, decades-old racial conflict, and lots of child abuse and Lamb does not hold back describing them in all their messiness. As he did in his Oprah-endorsed blockbusters She's Come Undone (1992) and I Know This Much Is True (1998), Lamb avoids irony and tends to spoon-feed his readers rather than let them find their own meanings in the text. But few authors are as compassionate toward their characters or as stirring in their redemption narratives. Librarians should expect heavy demand. HIGH-DEMAND BACKSTORY: The publisher's publicity campaign will match in intensity the public library response to a new book by a library favorite.--Driscoll, Brendan Copyright 2010 Booklist

Library Journal
(c) Copyright Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

We are water: "fluid, flexible when we have to be. But strong and destructive, too." That's evident in this emotionally involving new novel from the author of She's Come Undone. At its heart is the Oh family: Orion, half Chinese and half Italian, a psychologist who never knew his father and has taken early retirement from his university rather than face trumped-up charges of sexual harassment; his wife, Annie, a shy, successful creator of angry installation art who survived foster care and carries a dark secret; and their three children: willful aspiring actress Marissa and the twins, goodhearted Ariane and born-again rebel Andrew. As the novel opens, Annie has thrown everyone into turmoil by leaving Orion for her chic, sophisticated art dealer, Viveca, and even as the new couple plan a wedding in the Ohs' hometown, Three Rivers, CT, past and present hurts unfold in chapters told deftly from alternate viewpoints. Annie's self-doubts are particularly affecting, as is the satisfyingly predictable unfolding of her secret; Orion gracefully comes to terms with his limitations and his future. Meanwhile, Viveca's interest in a painting found on the Oh property links to the story of a black artist that intriguingly frames the novel. VERDICT Clear and sweetly flowing; highly recommended. [See Prepub Alert, 5/13/13.]-Barbara Hoffert, Library Journal (c) Copyright 2013. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.