Synopses & Reviews
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.
"A poignant portrait of mother-daughter love in the face of death, without the attendant melodrama easily wrung from such material." (Kirkus Reviews
"Beautifully written, effused with both sadness and hope, Tsukiyama's novel cannot fail to move readers." (Booklist - starred review)
"...Tsukiyama tells a simple story in a straightforward way...[in] a delicate, deceptively powerful new novel." (USA Today)
About the Author
is the author of The Language of Threads, Night of Many Dreams, The Samurai's Garden
, and Women of the Silk
. She lives in El Cerrito, California.
Reading Group Guide
1. At the beginning of Dreaming Water
, Gail Tsukiyama uses an Eleanor Roosevelt quote: “Yesterday is history. Tomorrow is a mystery. Today is a gift.” Why does she use it? How does this division shape the story?
2. Why do you think that Gail Tsukiyama chooses to have Dreaming Water occur over a two-day period?
3. Gail Tsukiyama deliberately chooses a disease that manifests itself in very specific ways. Why does she choose Werners Syndrome?
4. Why is the third voice in the novel Josephines and not Lauras?
5. What role does water play in the book? What does it mean to Hana? Cate? Max?
6. What role does memory play in the story? How do the characters rely on memory?
7. How do Cate and Maxs different cultural backgrounds add to the story?
8. How does the time that Max spends in the internment camp shape the rest of his life?
9. Maxs car means so much more to the family than a means of transportation, what else does it symbolize?
10. What role does nature play in Hana and Cate's lives?
11. How does Laura help Hana and Cate come to terms with Hana's illness?
12. Why is Hana able to connect to Josie in ways that Laura isn't?
13. What's the significance of everyone returning to the beach in the end? Is the ending fulfilling? Could it have ended in another way?