I have always loved Wally Lamb. Having been introduced to him through Oprah, I actually read I Know This Much is True first and it has remained in my top 10 favourite books of all time. She’s Come Undone is also very good, along with The Hour I First Believed, which proves the author has a way of weaving a story with compassion and conviction.
I found We Are Water on the discount table at my local Chapters for $5, and it’s a substantial book, I was excited to read it. How could you go wrong with his storytelling ways, right?
Well, not so much.
While I still think the man can tell a story like no other, I believe his editors may have led him astray. Or at least didn’t remove at least some of the details he included.
This story, simply put, is about marriage, divorce, racism, incest, rape, gay marriage, childhood abuse, alcoholism, murder and religion.
That’s a lot for one book. Even one that is over 500 pages.
The story was told through multiple decades and multiple characters’ perspectives. Some characters only got one chapter, however I felt that even that was too much. I felt some characters deserved more chapters, and some I questioned as to why they were included at all. All of the characters were in some way included, directly or indirectly, around a tragic event in Annie Oh’s life.
Speaking of Annie Oh, I really didn’t like the main character of this book. But I liked Mr. Agnello, Orion Oh, and his son Andrew. I felt that the father and son both developed as characters, more so than Anna. I feel that there could have been more depth to her, he touched upon it, told the story around her life, but we still never really understood her completely.
But Orion and Andrew both brought the most depth to the story. You could empathize with them, you were angry at them and you witnessed them growing. I was left feeling like I wanted to know more.
I still enjoyed the book, despite it being a lot. And that is credit to the writing style, the ability to weave a story and include interesting characters. However it was definitely not as strong as his previous books mentioned above. It didn’t stay with me after I closed the book, like I Know this Much is True.
We Are Water isn’t his best work, but it’s still worth a read.