We Are Water by Wally Lamb

“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.”

We Are Water is a layered portrait of the modern American family. It centers on Anna Oh—wife and mother; outsider artist and lesbian bride-to-be—and the family relationships that are severed and mended as Anna moves through her life. Anna’s hometown of Three Rivers, Connecticut serves as a quaint backdrop masking a history of personal trauma and racial tension. Anna’s turbulent past and transitional present intersect as each chapter is narrated by a different character: Orin, martyr and ex-husband; Andrew, Ariane, and Marissa, Anna’s dissimilar children; and Kent, Anna’s cousin and childhood tormenter.

We Are Water is more than the portrait of a broken American family. Alternating narrators spring between past and present to capture the emotional trauma that leads to the Oh family’s destruction. As readers begin to fully know the Oh Family their secrets peel away chapter by chapter unveiling the destructive nature of silence. We Are Water is a lengthy emotional upheaval demanding sympathy, disgust, and forgiveness. 

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