Bestselling author Gail Tsukiyama is known for her poignant, subtle insights into the most complicated of relationships. Dreaming Water is an exploration of two of the richest and most layered human connections that exist: mother and daughter and lifelong friends.
Hana is suffering from Werner's syndrome, a disease that makes a person age at twice the rate of a healthy individual: at thirty-eight Hana has the appearance of an eighty-year-old. Cate, her mother, is caring for her while struggling with her grief at losing her husband, Max, and with the knowledge that Hana's disease is getting worse by the day.
Hana and Cate's days are quiet and ordered. Cate escapes to her beloved garden and Hana reads and writes letters. Each find themselves drawn into their pasts, remembering the joyous and challenging events that have shaped them: spending the day at Max's favorite beach, overcoming their neighbors' prejudices that Max is Japanese-American and Cate is Italian-American, and coping with the heartbreak of discovering Hana's disease.
One of the great joys of Hana's life has been her relationship with her beautiful, successful best friend Laura. Laura has moved to New York from their hometown in California and has two daughters, Josephine and Camille. She has not been home in years and begs Hana to let her bring her daughters to meet her, feeling that Josephine, in particular, needs to have Hana in her life. Despite Hana's latest refusal, Laura decides to come anyway. When Laura's loud, energetic, and troubled world collides with Hana and Cate's daily routine, the story really begins.
Dreaming Water is about a mother's courage, a daughter's strength, and a friend's love. It is about the importance of human dignity and the importance of all the small moments that create a life worth living.
Tsukiyama (The Language of Threads) has a style at once evocative and formal, well suited to historical romances; now she takes on contemporary drama. At 38, Hana Murayama is dying of Werner's syndrome, a genetic defect that causes premature aging. Hana is almost totally dependent on her mother, Cate, who at 62 is still recovering from the sudden death of her husband, Max. As a child during WWII, Max had been interned with other Japanese-Americans in a camp in Wyoming and subsequently went on to teach history at a small northern California college. That background, her mother's love of gardening and her own usually feisty outlook are what Hana brings to her effort to live and die with dignity. Over the course of two days, Hana and Cate retrace in memory their lives and Max's. Their scattered and sometimes conflicting expectations are brought into sharp focus when Hana's best friend, Laura, now a successful East Coast lawyer, arrives with her two daughters, Hana's godchildren, allowing Hana and Cate to find a measure of the reconciliation that has eluded them. Tsukiyama has a wonderful ability to elicit delicate atmospherics; in particular, she uses the sense of touch to stunning effect. But the pacing is stilted, and neither Cate nor Hana allows herself a moment of private rage, although, in her thoughts, Cate strays briefly from the stoic. Her implicit frustration adds a note of vulnerability to the moving, subtle narrative.