to be sung underwater

Tom McNeal’s to be sung underwater, tells the story of Judith Whitman and what happens when we follow the plan we created for our lives without allowing any room for love. McNeal weaves the story of young Judith with present day Judith, a wife, mother, film editor, in her 40’s. We learn about her past, including her relationship with her mother and father and how Judith ended up in the middle of Nebraska living with her father while in high school. McNeal shows us Judith’s path from leaving Nebraska to California doing the job she’d always wanted with a wonderful husband and daughter. Even with all that she has, Judith’s life is missing the passion of her last summer in Nebraska with Willy Blunt, a local boy that is her first love.

This book made you want to fall in love with your high school crush all over again, and if you didn’t have one it makes you want to go back and get one. The pain that Judith feels after 25 years has only been intensified by her guilt for choosing a life without Willy. Judith’s definition of what is a good life has changed from her teenage years to mid-life, and McNeal allows the reader into her world to feel the pain that she must endure just to continue to live the life she created.

McNeal is a beautiful storyteller who grips the reader from the Prologue to Judith’s final drive home. Regret is a powerful emotion and McNeal uses it to twist the reader’s heart.

Read July 2013

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