Friday, February 15, 2019

We Are Water - by Wally Lamb

In this work Lamb re-imagines the town of Norfolk, Connecticut and artist Ellis Ruley as the fictitious Three Rivers, Connecticut and Josephus Jones respectively. It tells the story of the Oh family: Annie, an artist who is about to marry her same-sex partner; Orion, her psychologist ex-husband; and her children Ariane, Andrew, and Marissa. Each chapter focuses on a different character.

Annie's early life is shaped by a flood that killed her mother and baby sister. The disaster is something she rarely discusses, so her children must research it at the public library, reading the old newspaper accounts on microfiche. 

Annie is also the subject of an internet search on a public library computer, many years later. A search performed by someone who, as a condition of his parole, was to stay off the internet. Nevertheless, the parolee (Annie's long lost cousin Kent) "walked from the halfway house to the library downtown [and found] an open computer station, far enough from the front desk for anyone to see..."

As a young woman Annie searched for a job using the Want Ads found in the local paper at the public library. She had been primed from a young age to use the library, as her mother had taken her to story hour as a child. Belinda, whose father was buried the same day as Annie's mother and sister, remembered Annie from her days working at the library. Belinda once even used her job there as a cover to her parents when she goes to meet a boy at the movie theater - telling them she was called in to work to fill in for someone who was sick. 

Although not an especially library-centric book, this one does demonstrate a myriad of different ways that libraries are used. 

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