Dreaming Water is an exploration of two of the richest and most layered human connections that exist: mother-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 of 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, chaotic world collides with Hana and Cate's daily routine, Hana has a chance to reconnect with this troubled woman after a long absence. Laura and her children are able to help Hana and Cate face the future's uncertainties, while at the same time Hana and Cate discover that they are able to help Laura's girls grow up in numerous unseen ways.
"Gail Tsukiyama is a writer of astonishing grace, delicacy, and feeling. Her lyric precision serves not only to leave the reader breathless, but to illuminate human suffering and redemption with clarity and power."—Michael Chabon, author of The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay
"Gail Tsukiyama has not been content to mine only the rich vein of her Asian heritage; she seems to be endlessly curious about many kinds of subcultures, about the rules that must be made and broken to live outside of the dominant culture, and the intimacies that take place in the most unusual of circumstances. Although Dreaming Water takes place over the span of just two days, in clear, poetic prose Tsukiyama creates a family and their life that necessarily must be lived in their own mysterious and poignant orbit."—Jane Hamilton, author of A Map of the World and Disobedience: A Novel
"A delicate, deceptively powerful new novel . . . Touching and hopeful [with] graceful writing . . . Tsukiyama creates a bond . . . that mothers and daughters will know as almost a physical need, so deeply entwined are they in each other's lives."—USA Today
"A poignant portrait of mother-daughter love in the face of death, without the attendant melodrama easily wrung from such material."—Kirkus Reviews
"Tsukiyama has a style at once evocative and formal . . . [She] has a wonderful ability to elicit delicate atmospherics; in particular, she uses the sense of touch to stunning effect . . . [A] moving, subtle narrative."—Publishers Weekly
"Beautifully written, effused with both sadness and hope, Tsukiyama's novel cannot fail to move readers."—Kristine Huntley, Booklist (starred review)
"Tsukiyama writes beautifully about courage and love, showing us the importance of daily kindnesses and highlighting the beauty found in the relationships among mothers, daughters, and friends. Highly recommended."—Ellen R. Cohen, Rockville, Maryland, Library Journal