Wally Lamb, author of some of my favorite books, She's Come Undone, The Hour I First Believed, and I Know This Much Is True, has stunned me once again with We Are Water, his newest release. We Are Water is more uplifting than his other novels, about a marriage, family, and many modern day issues like racism, classism, homosexuality and violence. The narration switches among several main characters -- Anna Oh, her ex-husband, and their children. This changing narrative helps us explore a larger range of perspective, bringing to light many social issues this family encounters. At the heart of this book are several deep, dark secrets... but Lamb uses humor, compassion and his elegant prose to steer this novel through the suffering of all its characters.
When Annie Oh decides to marry her lover, Viveca, the impending gay marriage affects this family in many striking, relatable ways. Viveca is an art dealer who has been the foundation of Annie's success. Set in New York City, this novel's focus on a homosexual relationship, where an ex-husband and common children are involved, creates many issues. But it's the secrets of the past that eventually intersect with the present, bringing up themes about sin, redemption and fate. In this book, water is a metaphor for the flow of our lives -- the parts that are a result of our decisions and our own free will -- but also of the other parts that are a result of destiny.
Annie Oh is a brilliant, angry artisit who must forgive before she can move on. She, like the other characters of this novel, is flawed, emotional and very real. Orion, her ex-husband, is trying to reinvent himself post his failed marriage and busted career. The scenes written from his perspective were especially shocking to me and passionately written -- they are the ones that reveal the many secrets of Annie's life, as he learns them. The chapters written by the children are also interesting in that they provide a range of reactions to both the secrets and to the upcoming wedding. In the end, these secrets are the ones that rock this family to its core. Lamb is masterful as he divulgest them to us, and has the characters reveal them to each other.
Wally Lamb is an extremely talented writer, his novels always touch me deeply. His books are long, beautiful, and unfold slowly... touching upon many larger issues while always keeping in touch with the reality of his characters. This is a must-read... definitely one of the best books of 2013!