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Extended Audio Sample To Be Sung Underwater: A Novel Audiobook, by Tom McNeal Click for printable size audiobook cover
3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 3.00 (2,402 ratings) (rate this audio book) Author: Tom McNeal Narrator: Susan Boyce Publisher: Hachette Book Group Format: Unabridged Audiobook Delivery: Instant Download Audio Length: Release Date: June 2011 ISBN: 9781611139341
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Judith Whitman always believed in the kind of love that “picks you up in Akron and sets you down in Rio.” Long ago, she once experienced that love. Willy Blunt was a carpenter with a dry wit and a steadfast sense of honor. Marrying him seemed like a natural thing to promise. But Willy Blunt was not a person you could pick up in Nebraska and transport to Stanford. When Judith left home, she didn’t look back.

Twenty years later, Judith’s marriage is hazy with secrets. In her hand is what may be the phone number for the man who believed she meant it when she said she loved him. If she called, what would he say?

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.

Download and start listening now!

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Quotes & Awards

  • You don't so much read To Be Sung Underwater as you're consumed by it. The characters are unforgettable. The writing is staggering. More importantly, though, it's the courage of this book that sets it apart. It's the bravest, most beautiful book I've read in a long time. Markus Zusak, author of The Book Thief
  • What a pleasure to hear Tom McNeal's voice again, its humor and intelligence and muscle. By turns gentle and grim, lyric and comic, To Be Sung Underwater is a lovely book about what remains after so much is lost. What sweeps you along is not just the power of its writing but what distinguishes McNeal from nearly every other writer working in America these days--his unironic affection for the characters he brings so richly to life. Ehud Havazelet, author of Bearing the Body
  • Smart, sexy, gorgeous, and at times devastatingly sad--these words describe the woman at the heart of this wonderful novel almost as well as they do the book itself. This ravishing love story will envelop you for a few days and then linger for a long time thereafter. Ann Packer, author of Swim Back to Me and The Dive from Clausen's Pier
  • To Be Sung Underwater is such an immensely readable novel. McNeal has the enviable talent of making splendid writing look easy at no cost to the complexity and the beauties of what fascinates him (and me) -- the terrain occupied by women and men in love with each other. This is a wonderful book. Richard Ford
  • “So vividly written that it takes you to a place where all your perceptions seem dizzyingly altered. Which is, of course, exactly like love itself.”

    Washington Post

  • “Love stories have a terrible gravity, a centrifugal force. McNeal has created characters so dimensional, so memorable, that we are caught up in that urgency. Our rationality is compromised; the rules of the world fade away.”

    Los Angeles Times

  • “An exceptional novel…McNeal writes a kind of prose that’s almost endangered today: natural, smooth, and subtle.”

    Wall Street Journal

  • “McNeal’s ability to tell the story from a female point of view is shockingly accurate, as is his Richard Russo-esque ability to make small town characters simply complicated....A beautiful novel that bravely examines the effect a broken relationship can have on one’s life path.”

    Seattle Post-Intelligence

  • Selected for the June 2011 Indie Next List

Listener Opinions

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Patsy | 2/15/2014

    " Actually, I am currently listening to this and really enjoying it. I usually don't love these type of life examination novels but there is something about the main character, Judith, that I really like. I finished this and have mixed feelings. The writing is beautiful - based solely on that, I would give it 5 stars - but the premise of the novel itself bothers me a bit. It is a wonderfully told love story basically but the two main characters seem to have very little to no regard for the collateral damage done to others in their lives. The two are deeply connected and in love when the girl, Judith, is 17 and the guy, Willy, is 24. He plans to stay in the small Nebraska town while she is hoping to go away to college. Once away, she doesn't look back until 27 years later when they are reunited. There is no spoiler here as this is all kind of laid out in the first chapter. I do recommend it and am still mulling it over, which I guess means it's a good read. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Gloria | 2/8/2014

    " The story is one many mid-life people can relate to. This is about asking questions. Did I marry the right person? What happened to my parents' marriage? Should I do this or that? This flows beautiflly in parts, but it bogs down in a couple parts unnecessarily to the point where you just wanted to get done. In both these sections, the plot becomes unrealistic also. She shows up for work late when she feels like it, doesn't show up at all when she feels like it, etc. and still has a high-powered job. He leaves his family and hibernates on his personal campground getaway for days on end with no real accountability. People who are sentimental about first loves and who like a nice slow-paced story will enjoy it. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Lisa | 2/8/2014

    " Such a disappointing ending - really, no ending - to an otherwise great book. I was convinced I had pages missing in my copy and went to the bookstore to check other copies. No luck. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Johnna | 2/7/2014

    " I liked reading a male author's perspective of what women feel. Interesting and enjoyable read. I could relate on many levels. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Kay | 1/28/2014

    " This novel grabbed my heart in so many ways. It is a tale of a mid-life couple who meet again after twenty five years to reconcile their relationship and the intensity of their first love at age 18. It is a tale of the road not taken and how that road leads to the adult person who you become. The male author does an amazing job of writing the parts of both the male and female protagonists, and his descriptions of nature, of emotions, and of squeezed hearts makes the novel flow at a breathtaking pace. I didn't want it to end. I didn't want it to end the way it did. And, I would love to talk it over with others to see what they think Judith will do next. "To be Sung Under Water", an interesting audible concept, was a very satisfying read which made me both uplifted, nostalgic,and somewhat sad. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Priscilla | 1/19/2014

    " I unexpectedly became engaged with these characters and did enjoy the Nebraska settings as they were juxtaposed with L.A. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Lisa Wasserman | 1/18/2014

    " Really enjoyed this book! Everyone can remember their first love. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Rachel | 1/17/2014

    " Unrealistic but good guilty read about unrequited love "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Pat Bernhoft | 1/13/2014

    " A simply told beautifullove story. One of my favorites! "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Colleen | 12/3/2013

    " A beautiful, heartbreaking book. Be prepared with a box of tissue (or three) for the last 20 or so pages. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Andijkl | 11/30/2013

    " I really liked the book and the story. It was an old story retold in a bit of different way because of the ending. It was an end but not an end. It ended but so much was left unsaid. You can assume that life continued on as it was before but I don;t think that is how it should have ended. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Helen Machuga | 11/29/2013

    " A beautifully written book. The ending is predictable, but stays with one, as do the questions raised by the characters and their situations. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Maureen | 8/12/2013

    " Definitely a good read. Different from a lot of reading material. Thought provoking. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Laura | 7/13/2013

    " Sad, but good book. I really loved these characters and the story line could have gone in any direction at any time. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Becky | 5/30/2013

    " The characters in this book are terribly flawed and not very likable, yet the story sticks with you and makes you think of the nature of happiness. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Nikki | 1/15/2013

    " This was the perfect read for a lazy summer day! Took a little while to get into (I wasn't very fond of Malcolm) but when Willy entered the scene, I loved it! "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Autumn | 11/26/2012

    " One of the best books I've read/listened to this year. Audiobook was excellent! "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Karla Dye | 9/7/2012

    " A mesmerizing story with a haunting ending that leaves a lump in your throat. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Betty | 8/7/2012

    " I thought it was an enjoyable read. I didn't try to pick it apart--just enjoyed it. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 S. Schappell | 6/2/2012

    " I loved the story and McNeal's writing style. He has become one of my favorite authors. I can't wait for him to write another book. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Francisca | 5/26/2012

    " o my goodness, things people do to themselves! "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Julie Sinclair | 10/9/2011

    " I really enjoyed the book, but not because of the main story (or at least what the book jacket says is the main story). I loved the writing, the characters, and especially Judith's relationship with her father. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Sally Brock | 10/5/2011

    " Karen? Judy? you two need to read this one. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Laila | 6/20/2011

    " Wow. What a beautiful, sad, unbelievably well-written book. I'm going to be thinking about this one for a long time. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Lisa | 6/20/2011

    " A decent summer read until the end... unless you like deus ex machina endings... "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Melissa | 6/11/2011

    " I wouldn't have found some of this story believable if I hadn't met someone who never got over a love he had. It's a very sad thing when someone can't let go and let's it take over their life. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Elaine | 6/10/2011

    " I couldn't put it down. Very well-written and interesting. I am left with so many questions about Judith though! She seemed so disengaged. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Candy | 6/7/2011

    " Excellent! This is the great story you are always looking for.
    It reminded me a little of Bridges of Madison County. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Jill | 6/4/2011

    " Holy cow! This book just knocked me out! Not sure if I'll keep the 4 rating or upgrade it... "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 charlatti | 5/30/2011

    " I can't decide whether I loved this book or hated it. Beautifully sad, with characters and a sense of place so precisely created that I think they'll stay with me for quite a while. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Susan | 5/27/2011

    " I absolutely positively love this book! I could not put it down. Willy Blunt I love you!! "

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About the Author
Author Tom McNealTOM MCNEAL holds an MA in creative writing from UC Irvine and was a Stegner Fellow and Jones Lecturer at Stanford University. He is the author, with his wife, Laura, of four young adult novels published by Knopf: Crooked, Crushed, The Decoding of Lana Morris, and Zipped. His adult titles include Goodbye, Nebraska and To Be Sung Underwater. He lives with his wife and two sons in Southern California. Visit their website at McNealBooks.com.
About the Narrator

Susan Boyce is an audiobook narrator and an actor who has worked onstage at Trinity Repertory Theater, Worcester Foothills Theater, the Edinburgh Festival in Scotland, and every major ragtime and traditional jazz festival in the United States.