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Publisher's Summary

We Are Water is a disquieting and ultimately uplifting audiobook about a marriage, a family, and human resilience in the face of tragedy, from Wally Lamb, the New York Times best-selling author of The Hour I First Believed and I Know This Much is True.

After 27 years of marriage and three children, Anna Oh - wife, mother, outsider artist - has fallen in love with Viveca, the wealthy Manhattan art dealer who orchestrated her success. They plan to wed in the Oh family's hometown of Three Rivers in Connecticut. But the wedding provokes some very mixed reactions and opens a Pandora's Box of toxic secrets - dark and painful truths that have festered below the surface of the Ohs' lives.

We Are Water is a layered portrait of marriage, family, and the inexorable need for understanding and connection, told in the alternating voices of the Ohs: nonconformist, Anna; her ex-husband, Orion, a psychologist; Ariane, the do-gooder daughter, and her twin, Andrew, the rebellious only son; and free-spirited Marissa, the youngest. It is also a portrait of modern America, exploring issues of class, changing social mores, the legacy of racial violence, and the nature of creativity and art.

With humor and compassion, Wally Lamb brilliantly captures the essence of human experience and the ways in which we search for love and meaning in our lives.

The complete list of narrators includes Robin Miles and Sandy Rustin.

©2013 Wally Lamb (P)2013 HarperCollinsPublishers

What listeners say about We Are Water

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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

Lamb writes Fine Literature/What a Book!

We Are Water is the story of family, marriage, parenting, love, homosexuality, suicide, death, murder, racism---overt and subtle, wealth and poverty, anger, violence, secrets, ghosts, atheists, religion, the power of prayer, classism, drowning in a flood, physical abuse, pedophilia, disabilities, theft, art, alcoholism, politics---liberal and conservative, trauma, and community.
Each character in this book has her or his own voice in this story. The voices are braided together making this important novel unique and so special. The author narrates the voice of Orion Oh the patriarch in the book. Unlike some other authors, Mr. Lambs contribution to the narration is perfection.
Annie and Orion Oh are married and they have three children Ariane, Andrew, and Marissa. Annie is first struggling, then becomes a successful artist. Orion is a psychologist who cannot heal his own family. Annie's traumatic childhood and time in foster care and Orion never knowing his father impacts both parents and their children in profound ways. After over 20 years of marriage they divorce; Annie leaves Orion for a woman.
The backdrop of this story is the narrative of the short life of Josephus Jones and his brother. These black men are ostracized from and suffer abuse from their Connecticut community. Josephus's brother lives with a Dutch white woman. Josephus is a painter of "outsider art" never receiving recognition for his art until after his violent death. The story of the artist, his death and his art are woven throughout the book.
Another voice in this book is Kent, Annie's cousin who is a pedophile. This part, hearing Kent's voice and of Annie's abuse is very difficult but is an integral part of this book. I think it very brave of this author to include this peek into the persona and psyche of this man. Fortunately in the afterword the author explains his reasons for including Kent's voice.
This book touched me in a way few books do. I loved everything about this book; thank you Wally Lamb.

59 people found this helpful

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Where's Wally?

Having read, devoured and otherwise cerebrally ingested Wally Lamb's other books many times over, I was looking forward to "we are water".

I must first point out the book's central oxymoron. Two female protagonists are getting married. How hip with the times. One partner was raised with abuse and with no material nor cultural advantage, and I mean…zip, nada, zilch. She meets her partner by chance at a gallery and then becomes a kept woman. Well, she does supply the art for which her partner becomes wealthy, but how is this any different, except for the fact that the principals are the same gender - than the 1950's version of this same rescue story of a "woman in distress"?

Wally usually takes on highly ambiguous situations with a keen understanding and writes with skillful interpretation, with lots of elegant emotional and geographical description thrown in. However, I cannot say that "we are water" is up to Wally Lamb's standards - at least not as I have come to understand them. The obstacles to my enjoyment of this book are easy to enumerate as follows.

1) "we are water" is all about highly-educated, wealthy elitist characters with "first world" problems. There is a less-advantaged hispanic family thrown in for "diversity" I guess; someone's "help" brought along to assist with the logistics of a wedding, and wordsmith Wally deftly adds their little backstory as just more cumin in the curry.

2) The artist character gets her start by making little Joseph Cornell shadow boxes. I can say that nearly every book I've read where a female artist becomes successful she starts with little Joseph Cornell shadow boxes. Do writers just not know how to describe the visual arts and are incapable of giving the artists in their stories anything to create besides these (becoming trite) mini-scenes?

3) The female protagonists all talk with what I call Piping Rock Lockjaw. Those who've been raised in private schools and country clubs know what I mean. For simplicity's sake - let's just say they talk in that 1950's Hollywood-speak, sounding like Cary Grant and Deborah Kerr, but with drawn-out syllables to the "drama". I actually thought the first sentences read by the Anna character - pronounced "Ah-nah" - were part of a parody of snobspeak. Her first scenes were meandering thoughts on "Viveca"'s wedding dress. Just sounded like something out of "The Onion", or "Hyperbole and a Half".

4) I can't stand listening to George Guidall, who always brings to my mind a matronly picture of Dustin Hoffman in "Tootsie", wearing a wallpaper-like flowered dress, white gloves, and boxy, capacious purse carried on his/her forearm, sort of like Queen Elizabeth. Add to that the fact that Guidall can't seem to read more than three words without taking a breath and you get a barely endurable Guidall endurance-fest. Not my most pleasant listening experience.

5) The names of the characters are pretentious, snobbish, elitist and non-relateable. "Viveca"?? Really?. "Orion", with his constellation-of-stars reference? The pompous one-letter surname "O"??

I am being harsh, because the shallowness of all these factors derailed for me the devastating emotional issues with which this extended family grappled. And grappled successfully, I thought. The pay dirt is there and is pure Wally Lamb. But this book makes you dig your way through a lot of shallow sandboxes to get there.



34 people found this helpful

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Wally Lamb at his Finest.. Again

I've always loved Wally Lamb. Ever since 'She's Come Undone' and the story of Delores and her struggle with her family and weight, and then the amazing store 'I Know This Much is True,' I've been hooked on his writing/story telling style. While I sort of thought 'The Hour I First Believed' was a little discombobulated, I pre-ordered 'We Are Water' and looked very much forward to the day of it's release. I listened to the novel, told by several points of view, in a day and a half. I couldn't wait to see what would happen next, and I absolutely loved it and especially loved the narration by Lamb himself.

Voraciously, I ate up 'We Are Water,' and now I am disappointed that it's over and I have to wait years for Lamb to write another book! The story tells the tale of the Oh family. Patriarch Orien Oh and his wife Anna have raised three children, a set of twins and a younger daughter. After over twenty-five years of marriage Anna decides to leave Orien and marry Viveca, her female lover, and very rich art dealer who has made Anna a success. The book centres around the reactions of the Oh family to Anna making such a shocking decision.

As with any family, there are a lot of 'Oh' skeletons in their closet. Orien's father really never had anything to do with him. The twins are in a state of constant disarray, one wanting to be artificially inseminated at a young age, and the other turning to God and Jesus to reinforce his feelings about his mother's sexuality. The youngest is struggling to become an actress and Anna herself has had a tortured past. Anna tells her deepest secrets to the listener, like we are her best friend. We are horrified, empathetic, disgusted and at some points, pleasantly entertained.

All of the characters are due to get together for Anna's wedding however, of course, things go far from the way they are planned. The novel is dramatic, suspenseful, at times laugh-out-loud funny, and it ties together like the perfect bow on a gift. A gift from Wally Lamb.

5 starts, loved every minute of it. Can't wait for his next book.

33 people found this helpful

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My Hopes Fulfilled!

I waited patiently for the release of this one, and it did not disappoint. The performances are excellent, the characters complex, and the story simply swept me away. Chock full of heart and human frailty.

25 people found this helpful

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  • RG
  • 11-05-13

The readers drove me crazy

Would you say that listening to this book was time well-spent? Why or why not?

I kept listening because I have loved authors other books. It was really hard because I could not stand the people reading this book!

18 people found this helpful

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Wally Lamb: omniscient

Any additional comments?

How this author manages to understand how so many different people think is beyond me. His characters so realistically flawed but likable nonetheless. Felt so sad when finished: I will miss the characters but still harbor a hope that its a true story and Ill meet them someday. Still pondering over this interesting story.

17 people found this helpful

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Not a bad story.Terrible Narration

Would you say that listening to this book was time well-spent? Why or why not?

Yes. The Plot twisted around and got slow in parts, but when it sped it up it was compelling.

How could the performance have been better?

The Narration was terrible. The Narrators for Annie and Vivica were difficult to listen to. Annie had a sing song cadence and seemed to end each sentence with a question. Vivica sounded like Lovey on Gilligans Island.

If this book were a movie would you go see it?

possibly

Any additional comments?

The Reader spends quite a lot of time waiting for things to happen and the themes are fairly typical in the end

14 people found this helpful

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Lamb + pros narrating = fabulous listening

Audible narration is perfectly suited to Lamb's confessional/therapy session style, especially when the characters are read by seasoned actors and established audible narrators. And that includes the author, as Orion Oh, who is no stranger to book readings and narration.
If you've scrolled down this far you already know the book is good; it will hook you from the start, plunge you into some pretty bumpy uncomfortable territory, but will ultimitely leave you feeling uplifted and healed.
Is it Lamb's best? Probably not, but if you've read the others already and are in the mood to get immersed in a long, leisurely listen, you've come to the right book!

9 people found this helpful

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just plain WOW!

Would you listen to We Are Water again? Why?

oh yea this was a great book keeps you wanting more. sweet revenge maybe

8 people found this helpful

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The pedophilia was to detailed

Overall a good book. But be warned now that the authors description of the pedophile and his behavior is disturbing. It was a struggle to get through these parts and in my personal opinion could have been more subtly portrayed. The fact that it happened is central to the story whereas the details of the act were, once again in my opinion, superfluous.

7 people found this helpful

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  • Mrs JL Adams-White
  • 11-22-15

Wonderful book

I really enjoyed this book ... Love Wally Lambs books , and this kept me company on some long car journeys !
Brilliantly written and well read .. Good to have the different voices for various characters .. Would highly recommend this book

2 people found this helpful

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  • zomodo
  • 01-07-15

My favourite book of last year

This book was just so incredible I'm so glad I've come across this author. The reviews are excellent and there really isn't anyhinh stopping you from downloading. I love any book on family dynamics and I like books read from individual view points, this combines both.

The story from the paedophile's view point was highly uncomfortable but this is a reality in this world and just shows the skill of the author (who also narrates one of the characters).

I can't recommend this book enough and the second book of wally lamb's is now in my wish list.

2 people found this helpful

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  • bookworm
  • 11-03-16

Excellent

I was hooked right from the start and listened to it within a couple of days. Pretty scary stuff about child abuse, but it's within the context of a very well written multilayered story and it made me think more deeply about the cycle of abuse and the impact on whole families. Really first rate, and beautifully read by a variety of narrators, one for each character.

1 person found this helpful

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    4 out of 5 stars
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  • Talia
  • 05-16-20

Really Good!

Hard to get through in some parts because of the brutality which occurs in the story, but, overall a gripping book and audiobook.

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  • Jen
  • 05-26-18

All Consuming

Wally Lamb is one of the most engaging writers I’ve had the pleasure of reading/listening to. His dialogue is intelligent, believable & he has the ability to pull you in from the start. He has a natural gift. His narrative wraps around your being - the downside of which is the end of his novels, you really don’t want to let the familiarity of the characters & landscapes go. Rarely do I find myself feeling so adrift after finishing a novel, but dammit Wally Lamb, you have the power.

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  • S
  • 12-07-17

Loved it ...

4 stars for performance due to the pronunciation of certain words / names.

Great book, my second Wally Lamb.

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  • Miss
  • 10-12-17

Listen!

Just listen.

You won't be disappoint.

Amazing.
Amazing.
Amazing.
Amazing.
Amazing.
Amazing.
Amazing.
Amazing.
Amazing.

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  • MAGGS
  • 12-13-16

We Are Water - Great Storytelling, but some parts were disturbing

We Are Water - Great Storytelling, but some parts were disturbing
I realise that it was part of a multilayered storyline.
Pretty scary stuff about child abuse.
My favourite narrators voice was of Orion and was surprised to find out it was Wally Lamb, usually authors (in my option) ain't that good a narrator, but Wally done a great job.

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  • Mrs
  • 12-22-15

Complex family saga

I really enjoyed this book - the first I had come across by Wally Lamb. There are many characters, delivered by different narrators, who tell the developing story from differing angles. All the narrators are excellent, though some of the characters are unpleasant.
Highly recommended

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  • Sue
  • 10-16-15

loved it

i couldn't put it down. i love the way Wally Lamb goes in depth with each character

1 person found this helpful