We Are Water is the story of the Oh family. Annie, the mother and an accomplished outsider artist, is about to marry her art dealer, Vivica, after ending her 25+ year marriage to Orion. Annie and Orion have three grown children, twins, Ariane and Andrew, and a younger daughter, Marissa. Annie and Vivica’s wedding brings the family back together and years of secrets, abuse, and denial all come to a head when the family comes together.
Wally Lamb is big on the whole sins of the father (parent) are visited upon the son (child) theme and it is again played out in this book. Parents (both the parents or parental figures of Annie and Orion, as well as Annie and Orion themselves) in this book are guilty of everything from neglect and abuse to absence, denial, workaholism, and alcoholism. And the children suffer the consequences, some repeating the mistakes of their parents/grandparents and some becoming flawed in other ways.
Family secrets are also a huge part of this book. Annie has repressed some dark happenings from her childhood, but when they are revealed, it offers some healing, but also precipitates an event that results in another big family secret for one of the Ohs. Secrets can be used to protect oneself, but they are also used for blackmail and manipulation.
The negativity and abuse and secrets in the lives and relationships in the Oh family is not all of what makes up this family, though. There is love and there is healing and forgiveness and hope. We are water after all, both destructive AND healing.
I am huge Wally Lamb fan, and this book was no exception. He is able to tackle huge and emotional issues with great writing and still remain incredibly readable. This was a 576 page book with many different points of view and parts of the story extending beyond the Oh family (if you read the Goodreads summary, you’ll see this book is supposedly about all kinds of things, and well, it is), but it never felt like too much. If you like a family drama with depth, then I’d highly recommend this book. I know a lot of my blogging friends prefer young adult fiction, but if you’re looking to expand into the adult contemporary realm, Wally Lamb is a great author to try. He will definitely remain a must-read author for me!