Book Review: We Are Water

Book review time! It has been a while since I posted one of these. Probably over a year. While my book club has been humming along, I haven’t kept up with posting my review of the books we read/listen too and then chat about every six weeks or so. So this is my attempt to get caught up.

Caution: I listened to this book 11 months ago, so I’ll do my best.


We Are Water by Wally Lamb is a book that made me feel all of the feelings. I was happy, sad, hurt, scared, vulnerable, enraged, frustrated, and confused all within the confines of this story.

It follows a family across time and shares bits and pieces of their stories with the reader/listener. The central story is of the matriarch of the family, Annie Oh, getting married to her girlfriend, Viveca. She has three children (Andrew, Arianne, and Marissa) and an ex-husband, Orion Oh. The book skips back and forth in time, describing the land and the house owned by the family in small-town Connecticut, to the impending wedding.

The book follows the characters through first-person accounts of their past and present. Some characters get multiple chapters to tell their story, depending on how prominent they are in the book. We learn about Annie’s childhood, how she met Orion, her thoughts on motherhood and parenting, her career in artwork, and how she arrived at the decision to leave her husband and the father of her children.

We learn about Orion, his upbringing, and how he fell for Annie. He discusses his career and his struggles since the divorce.

Their children narrate their view of their parents and how they were raised, each with their own voice of hope and pain. Their lives have gone in vastly different directions. The divergence is entertaining and heartbreaking at times.

The book covers race, gender, sexual orientation, violence, and abuse. The theme that struck me most how we as parents and caregivers of children have a responsibility for their safety and wellbeing. So much can happen in or formative years that shape who we are and the people we become. Are we as parents making our children’s emotional needs a priority? Do we know what is really going on with them?

There are many more themes in the book about individuality, personal responsibility, accountability, family dynamics, etc. that were all central but none that struck me more as a parent than how our actions and choices can affect our family long after we are gone.

This book haunted me long after reading it. I actually skipped our next book club selection because I needed time to emotionally recover from this listen. It was an incredible read and a book I won’t soon forget for its themes and scope.

On Goodreads I gave it four stars. Highly recommended if you can handle an emotional rollercoaster.


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