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Extended Audio Sample To Be Sung Underwater: A Novel, 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:
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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.

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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 by 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 by 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 by 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 by 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. "

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