Whatever form it takes, water is rarely still. It flows in a river, waves with the wind and ripples when its surface is broken. In his latest novel, We Are Water, best-selling author and masterful storyteller Wally Lamb (She’s Come Undone, I Know This Much Is True) uses the Oh family to illustrate how ever-changing relationships can be.

After 27 years of a mostly successful marriage, artist Annie Oh has left her husband, Dr. Orion Oh, for her female art dealer, Viveca. As the women’s wedding draws near, Orion and Annie’s three children are left to confront their feelings about their mother’s change of heart as well as their complicated familial history.

Andrew’s career has carried him from Connecticut to Fort Hood, Texas, where he found Jesus and a conservative Christian fiancée. His twin, Ariane, has been unlucky in love but is content in her work, running a San Francisco soup kitchen. Younger sister Marissa is pursuing work as a New York City actress, juggling bartending work with casting calls as she strives for success. Their father is adrift, trying to figure out his next move after a scandal causes him to resign from his university psychologist job.

When the Ohs’ children return home for their mother’s wedding, longtime hurts and frustrations come to a head. Orion speaks for them all when he reflects on the parallels between water and people: “We are like water, aren’t we? We can be fluid, flexible when we have to be. But strong and destructive, too.” And that’s the message Lamb leaves the reader with in the gentle ebb and flow of this book: Relationships may bend, but they don’t have to break.

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