Astghik Poghosyan ’17 / Emertainment Monthly Staff Writer
Author of two New York Times Bestsellers with his previous novels, She’s Come Undone and I Know This Much Is True, Wally Lamb presents the world with yet another compelling novel that hooks the reader in right from the start.
Lamb enthusiasts expect a certain level of quality when reading any of his works, and We Are Water does not disappoint. Lamb’s novel tells the tragic story of a family that has come undone by a hidden core secret that has fermented them at the seams. The story follows the Oh family, which consists of Annie, Orion and their three children, re-telling their past and present experiences from the point of view of each character. Lamb easily establishes the fact that there are many different sides to one story and an individual’s standpoint heavily effects how they deal and perceive the situation. But even though the multiple sides exist, they are ultimately interwoven together through the paths that they create for each character. Being an omnipresent reader, Lamb allows his audience to experience the story from five different points of view while allowing readers to have an objective outlook on the trials and tribulations the Oh family goes through.
Lamb has no love for subtlety and tackles multiple disturbing themes without any sugarcoating. The central theme of the book is abuse and how it shadows a person’s entire life if the aftereffects are not dealt with properly. Annie Oh, the mother of the family, was sexually abused by her cousin early on in her childhood, and the traces of that traumatic experience have carried themselves into her adult life. This created a deep mistrust towards anyone who was part of the male gender, consequently causing her to become physically abusive towards her son, singling him out from all her three children.
There’s an element that is consistent throughout the entire novel and that is that our past shapes us into the people that we are today, and we can’t run away from it no matter how hard we try. Lamb emphasizes that we cannot run away from our ghosts, and that if we don’t face them, their haunting presence will make our present miserable. Having said that, family dynamic is something that he thoroughly explores, using it as a cause and effect series surrounding the characters.
There’s something to be admired about Lamb’s diction and word play. It contains an unadulterated rawness that makes the characters seem realistic and relatable, giving the effect as though the reader is present in their mind, experiencing their pain with them. It’s one of the main factors that keep the reader hooked in. That being said, the chronological time play makes the novel very well rounded and places it into a bigger context beyond the five main characters.
Compelling, heart wrenching, tear jerking, thought provoking, confronting, and overall amazing, Wally Lamb has delivered another captivating story that for anyone could pick up and lose themselves in.
Find We Are Water at your local bookstore on the 29th of October.
Rating: ★★★★★ (A)