Review of “To Be Sung Underwater” a Novel by Tom McNeal

By Kathleen Pohlig

To Be Sung Underwater

To Be Sung Underwater a Novel by Tom McNeal

To Be Sung Underwater is a story of first love, forgotten dreams and yearning for what might have been.

Judith has a seemingly happy and successful life in California, a life she carefully planned and thought she wanted. She has a fine career in film editing, a comfortable home with a loving husband and a teenage daughter she is proud of, but as in many lives, there are secrets from her past she has kept from her family. She begins to feel a longing for that past and is tempted to go back to her girlhood home in Nebraska and find out if that first love can be recaptured.

Early in the book, Judith has a scrap of paper with a phone number on it that may belong to Willy Blunt, a car- penter she fell in love with and who believed that she meant it when she said she loved him. The problem was that Willy didn’t fit in with her educational and career plans and when she left Nebraska, she never looked back. If she calls him now, more than 20 years later, what would he say?

McNeal has created a great plot and vivid characters who, though flawed, are well drawn and sympathetic to the reader. The contemporary California life and the earlier, simpler life in small town Nebraska are so well described that it is easy to put yourself into the story and wonder, “What would I have done?”

The Cleveland Plain- Dealer describes the book as: “Beautifully written, a compelling story, uniting the literary, charac- ter-driven novel with what eventually becomes quite a page-turner.”

Several of us at Cherry Street Books read this novel and liked it very much. It’s one of those books that will linger in your mind for some time. Words from the publisher sum it up well: “To Be Sung Underwater is the epic love story of a woman trying to remember, and the man who could not even begin to forget.”

Kathleen Pohlig is owner of Cherry Street Books in Alexandria.

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