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We Are Water

3.81  ·  Rating details ·  50,737 ratings  ·  5,809 reviews
In middle age, Annie Oh—wife, mother, and outsider artist—has shaken her family to its core. After twenty-seven years of marriage and three children, Annie has fallen in love with Viveca, the wealthy, cultured, confident Manhattan art dealer who orchestrated her professional success.

Annie and Viveca plan to wed in the Oh family's hometown of Three Rivers, Connecticut, wher
Hardcover, 561 pages
Published October 22nd 2013 by Harper
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Megan I just started it and I'm struggling too. Someone mentioned it needed better editing. That's what I found with The Hour I First Believed as well. It j…moreI just started it and I'm struggling too. Someone mentioned it needed better editing. That's what I found with The Hour I First Believed as well. It just seemed to drag on forever. I remember reading I Know This Much Is True (one of my favourite books of all times) and thinking it was the only book I've ever read where I didn't want to miss one single word! That's what makes these later books a bit disappointing.

Update: I couldn't go on. I judge a book about by how excited I am for bedtime/reading time, and I just was not...(less)
Trudie Yes, you probably missed something by skimming through, although it was also mentioned later in the book I think. Kent doesn't have the same perspecti…moreYes, you probably missed something by skimming through, although it was also mentioned later in the book I think. Kent doesn't have the same perspective about the things he did to Annie than Annie. I think it was in the end when he even tells Andrew that she liked it too. He thought of it as something that happened a long time ago and he's just very ignorant about the effect of his behavior on Annie or any other girl he molested. I got the idea he wanted to visit her because she was the only one left of his family and he was curious about her now that she was a famous artist.(less)

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Average rating 3.81  · 
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 ·  50,737 ratings  ·  5,809 reviews

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Kimberly Smith
Dec 09, 2013 rated it it was ok
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
I practically celebrate every time Wally Lamb publishes a new novel. I love his work so much, and he only improves with age. Nobody can take a basic story and so circuitously and beautifully lead the reader to a satisfactory conclusion as Lamb does. Few writers put human behavior and feelings into words as sensitively (and sometimes humorously) as Lamb. Few writers can address divorce, sexual abuse, incest, child abuse, gay marriage and religion all in one book and make it work. And few writers ...more
Ron Charles
Oct 10, 2013 rated it it was ok
Shelves: novels-about-art
Gay Americans have been waiting a long time for the right to marry. But we all wait a long time in Wally Lamb’s dilatory new novel about a lesbian wedding. Before anybody is allowed to say, “I do,” in “We Are Water,” a whole family of injured people must walk down the aisle muttering their sorrows.

Emotional and physical wounds have long been Lamb’s territory, explored in the Oprah-blessed blockbusters “She’s Come Undone” and “I Know This Much Is True” and his wrenching novel about the Columbine
I loved Wally Lamb's 'I Know This Much Is True', it's one of my all-time favorite books. So, it's hard for Lamb to compete with my love for that book. 'We Are Water' is similar to IKTMIT in that it's very easy to read. The characters are likeable and their stories are interesting enough that you want to find out what happens to them. There would certainly be a lot to discuss if you were going to choose this as a book club book. Honestly, this might be one of those books that you like more after ...more
Elyse  Walters
Aug 29, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Update: This is a $2.99 Kindle special today. I 'still' think about this novel --and remember fine details. It was one of those books (kinda like "Setting the Kites of Fire" was for me the other day) --that was such an emotional read for me --a book that touched a 'range' of emotions -that my body wasn't really ready to 'write' a full review.

This book changed my outlook on things --Its heavy and its long -- It deals with abuse -paedophilia --and 'many' life issues to look at deeply -from all si
Nov 19, 2013 rated it it was ok
Shelves: literary
I almost liked this book. I believe that sincere effort to do good went into its making. But basically this amounts to a psychiatric case study of childhood trauma and how it affects later life. It seems to be dripping with archetypal symbols as well: sharks, Greek myth, the ocean, absent fathers,twins, and more. Ostensibly the story of an artist who leaves her husband for another woman, Anna Oh does not emerge as the hero or even protagonist of this story. I think her lesbianism is a hook; Anna ...more
B the BookAddict
Nov 14, 2013 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: probably everyone
Recommended to B the BookAddict by: moi
Shelves: literary-fiction
Full of empathy and pathos, this novel encompasses memorable characters, their very vivid experiences and endeavours to overcome abuse, loss and anguish. It would seem that in We Are Water, there is a bit of everything: divorce, child abuse, homophobia, racism, art, paedophilia, psychology, lesbianism, religion, gay marriage and alcohol abuse. A big ask for an author to successfully weave all these issues into one novel but Lamb does this mostly successfully in his usual Wally Lamb manner.

The s

Well. I guess I can't put this review off any longer.

First things first.
I love Wally Lamb.
That's right - LOVE HIM.
You know when that really exciting moment comes when a friend who for some ungodly pathetically stupid reason doesn't really read ever asks you for recommendations? And then you can barely contain yourself and rattle off about ten titles in two seconds and get this from them?:


And then you're all like:

Well, anyway...when these wonderful gem moments come along, I always say these
Nov 05, 2013 rated it did not like it
She's Come Undone, I Know This Much Is True and The Hour I First Believed were wonderful masterpieces written by Wally Lamb. I wonder who really wrote his latest book! Surely not the Wally Lamb whose writing I love. I, along with many others, waited so long for him to write another book and I was so disappointed in this one. It rambled all over the place and was just words on many pages saying nothing. The themes and subplots were tedious. The shallow self-absorbed characters who constantly spil ...more
Jan 15, 2014 rated it really liked it
Shelves: own
Wally Lamb - you are the master when it comes to storytelling. You manage to gift wrap issues of child abuse, assault, incest, religion, homosexuality, art, biracial relationships into a neat and compact story. I have to admit, a quarter way through I wasn't sure you'd be able to pull it off. This narrative pivots around the wedding of Annie Oh, who leaves her marriage of 27 years to marry another woman. The leading up to that day is done through the perspectives of herself, her ex-husband, her ...more
Oct 30, 2013 rated it liked it
I knew I didn't love Wally Lamb's newest book not long after I started it. A hundred pages in and I wasn't even sure if I liked it. Two hundred pages in and I wasn't sure if I would even finish it. Well, like a marathon runner, I managed to break through the wall at the 17-mile mark and race to the finish of this one. By the end I liked it enough. It just lacked the magic of Lamb's first two novels, which I absolutely loved. Maybe I'm downgrading it only in comparison to those two, though I have ...more
Mar 04, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Wally Lamb pulls your emotions in so many ways and he continues that with his latest book, “We are Water.” Characters you feel you should hate become more than just black and white; all of a sudden they are tinged with gray. You can’t seem to tell who the bad guys and the good guys are in this story.

Ultimately this book tells the tale of outsiders; that society considers to be different from the “norm.” It tells the story of Annie and Orion Oh through their own tales, those of their family and t
Jul 27, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
"How in the world are we water?" was my first thought when I picked up this book. Other than our bodies being mostly composed of water, Orion discusses with his son, Andrew, how people are like water in that they can be fluid and flexible when needed, or they can be strong and destructive, too. I didn't really expect to dive into this book but that's exactly what happened: I stuck a toe in and found the water so inviting, I backed up, took a long, free run, and dove in. And the water, and the st ...more
Gail Strickland
Oct 28, 2013 rated it it was ok
I don't want to talk about it. Let's just say "Chinese Water Torture" and leave it at that, shall we? ...more
Aug 22, 2013 rated it really liked it
I had never read Wally Lamb's work before I received We Are Water in a Goodreads Giveaway. Talk about a prize! I just finished the book, and I recommend it with great enthusiasm to readers generally with one caveat. Namely, I would warn readers to maintain an emotional release valve when engaging with as intense a novel as this one. This book is a pretty massive tome, even at 576 pages, and sometimes it feels longer. The reader is completely immersed in the characters' respective psyches -- char ...more
Oct 17, 2013 rated it it was amazing
An intense novel!

Annie Oh is a woman who discovered her art later in life, in middle age after her children were born and raised. It gave her an outlet for her emotions, but it also ruined her marriage. Known to many as a quiet, meek woman, her art exhibited a surprisingly angry, manic energy. Where did her anger come from? After 27 years together, and three children, Annie told her husband, Orion, a psychologist, their marriage was over and she was marrying her art dealer, a wealthy, sophistica
Jul 29, 2013 rated it it was ok
Wally Lamb's latest offering "WE ARE WATER" has more in common with his last novel "THE HOUR I FIRST BELIEVED" than with his earlier works, which I loved. With WE ARE WATER Lamb has once again used the shotgun approach to his subject matter, firing at a wide range of topics and hoping something would hit the target. This narrative is one that explores everything from homosexuality, sexual predators, failed relationships, gay marriage and the childhood traumas that we carry forward into our adult ...more
Oct 13, 2013 rated it liked it
Like so many people "She's Come Undone" was the first book that truly spoke to me. I was probably 15 or 16 the first time I read it, over a decade later and having reread it countless times it's still as powerful as ever. Then "I Know This Much is True" came along and added to my deep undying love of Wally Lamb's work. "The Hour I First Believed" I only managed to read once because it was so well written, so powerfully realistic that it gave me nightmares. When I came across an advance readers c ...more
Nov 30, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: audio, literary
What a gorgeous book--and after reading reviews and comments, I think it's perhaps better on audio than print. Great readers--Guidall, Ballerini, Ferrone, Gilbert, Read, and the author himself--read separate sections and become that character, that voice, interpreting other characters and events and adding layers to the story. Organized as it is with sections told be each of the major characters (and their stories intertwine as the characters reappear and reveal more), this is an elegantly writt ...more
This is a very difficult review for me to write. I've thought about it for a couple of days now and wondered if I'd get it down right for you. I've been an avid fan of Wally Lamb's for many, many years and had such excitement when I learned he had a new book out. I rushed to get a copy. I'm sad to say this one was a disappointment to me in some major ways, although I did grasp the over all story and could appreciate what Mr. Lamb's intention was in telling it. (See Summary above)

This is first o
Nov 20, 2013 rated it liked it
I don't want to be "that person" but I read "She's come undone" before it was on Oprah's book club and it was a firm favourite of mine from the get go. I also loved "I know this much is true" and "The hour I first believed". Lamb's novels were some of the very few saved in the great post-kindle physical book purge. So I was excited about this book. It was an enjoyable enough read. Maybe I have come to expect too much but I almost felt like this was an attempt by someone else to write a Wally Lam ...more
Diane Chamberlain
I'll read anything Wally Lamb writes. My favorite is still I Know This Much is True. ...more
Ashley Mackler-Paternostro
Wally Lamb is an incubator. Every five years, or every ten years, and only occasionally at other points in time, does this talented author bless our bookshelves with a new novel. When they arrive, they are gifts. His books, as they always are, are journeys into the human soul and not simply novels. They follow the arc of lives, allow the characters to seep in secrets, touch upon sensitive topics, unfold slowly over the course of hundreds of pages and leave the reader not only drawn into world wh ...more
Sep 11, 2013 rated it it was ok
It hurts to give Wally Lamb a two-star review.

It also kind of hurts to know that I can't really rave about him now - not with this last Lamb novel I've read hanging over me. I think I have to go read I Know This Much is True just to refresh the palate.

Jeez, Wally. What were you thinking?

I can't say this didn't have its good moments (this IS Wally Lamb after all) - I especially liked the early chapters from Annie and Orion, as they were reliving their dating days. I'm thinking for others, but a
Nov 19, 2013 rated it it was amazing
I just love Wally Lamb! In everything I've read from him, he has such a gorgeous knack for creating real, flawed characters that we can fall in love with (or at least understand, even the worst of them). We Are Water is no exception. It's a beautiful, heart-rending look into what makes a family, what makes art, what makes us human. You'll laugh. You'll cry. You'll read the final pages slowly because you don't want it to end.... ...more
Natalie Richards
Mar 20, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: owned-book
I love Wally Lamb`s books; they are so character driven and I always find myself fully absorbed in his writing. Wonderful. ...more
Jun 14, 2014 rated it it was ok
A difficult book to judge. I can understand why many people like it but the ending killed it for me. The book itself actually jogged along quite nicely most of the way. I became quite attached to Orion and sort of understood Annie although I could not condone her child abuse. The chapter written by Kent was so confronting I skipped a lot of it. But then came the awful final chapters. Annie's final act of child abuse in disclosing to the one person she should not have told - ever. And what happen ...more
Sep 14, 2017 rated it it was amazing
I listened to the audio of this book and loved it. The voices were perfect for the characters being portrayed. Wally Lamb narrates the part of Orion and it worked wonderfully.

I loved this story of family relationships, love and secrets that ripple through the generations. This is a story of a marriage that failed; how and why. And it's more than that; it's family, resilience, strength.

I love the title and how it shows the core of this story. We are water in our ability to flow with what life g
Mar 02, 2016 rated it liked it
I love Wally Lamb, but this was my least favorite of his current four books. :( I felt the story was really unsatisfying - hundreds and hundreds of pages of exposition wrapped up in a 30-ish page conclusion.
Amy Keyishian
Feb 01, 2015 rated it did not like it
Fuck this shitty book.

The main storyline of this book involves a disturbed woman reaching back through the past to discover and remember the trauma she endured, and discovering why she's such an angry weirdo. In terms of just the bare mechanics of that plot -- starting in the present, looping back to the past to hook onto details and drag them up to the surface where they can be examined -- there is some skill. But there are absolute mountains of malformed, half-thought-out tangents -- enough t
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Wally Lamb is the author of She's Come Undone, The Hour I First Believed, and I Know This Much Is True. Two were featured as selections of Oprah's Book Club. Lamb is the recipient of the Connecticut Center for the Book's Lifetime Achievement Award, the Connecticut Bar Association's Distinguished Public Service Award, the Connecticut Governor's Art Award, the Barnes & Noble Writers for Writers Awar ...more

Articles featuring this book

In We Are Water—the latest from the She's Come Undone scribe—family secrets surface as divorced mother of three Annie prepares to marry her lover,...
58 likes · 22 comments
“We are like water, aren’t we? We can be fluid, flexible when we have to be. But strong and destructive, too.” And something else, I think to myself. Like water, we mostly follow the path of least resistance.” 64 likes
“Maybe that's what love is. Having someone who guides you through different experiences, coaxes you to try news things but still makes you feel safe.” 45 likes
More quotes…