Customer Reviews for

To Be Sung Underwater: A Novel

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Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 37 review with 5 star rating   See All Ratings
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  • Posted July 7, 2011

    BookHounds

    Judith has been married to Malcolm and begins to wonder if she married the right man. Her thoughts turn to Willy, the boy she left behind years ago. The story flips back and forth between the present and the years before when she first met Willy. The story flows easily between the two time periods and you can easily get a feel for how Judith has matured. She has a dream job editing films, a lovely home and a man she thinks might be cheating on her. The drama builds effortlessly and the words are so lovingly chosen that you won't want to skip a one. I had to go back and read several paragraphs over since the writing is just so exquisite.

    The characters stuck with me long after I finished this book. This book would make an excellent movie since it feels like everything is in perfect order and you can see each scene unfold into the next. I am so glad that more authors are turning up from Orange County and especially the University of California, Irvine. This book would be a winning choice for a book club since there are so many interesting angles that can be discussed.

    3 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted July 1, 2011

    Incredibly compelling story

    I'm not much of a fiction reader but this was an amazingly well told story with characters I feel like I really know and care about. Be forewarned - you won't want to put it down!

    3 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted June 21, 2011

    more from this reviewer

    Very highly recommended!

    As an avid reader, this is the first novel that I have felt completely compelled to review. From the first sentence to the final word, I found myself stealing seconds out of the day to read the next paragraph...or word. Even though I "knew' the ending, it still left me in shock and silently screaming "NO! This can't be the end!" This novel left me in silent tears mourning both the loss of the love of my life from my college days more than 40 years ago to the fragility of my current 8 year relationship and all the resultant "what ifs?".

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted July 25, 2011

    Extraordinary.....

    The author reaches out and wraps you within the pages of this book!
    Beautifully written, hard to put down...you'll be thinking about what you have experienced within this story, long after you have finished the last page.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted September 7, 2013

    This was a really great read. The author's writing style is wond

    This was a really great read. The author's writing style is wonderful, the story goes back and forth in time but not is a confusing way. The time changes actually help fill in the story as the main character looks back and forth in her life.  I guess many people wonder if they married the right person and about the person they left behind. This is a classic look at that circumstance and is so well done. It does cause reflection. The story is beautiful and sad and had me deeply engrossed throughout. I keep thinking about the ending. Was that the right ending? It certainly was for this character and this book, but in real life? 

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  • Posted January 2, 2013

    Beautifully written! Caution - this novel may inspire you to a m

    Beautifully written! Caution - this novel may inspire you to a moment of self-reflection.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 1, 2012

    A Good One

    I absolutely loved this stiry. It was so well written and surprised even me. Many thanks to the author.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 8, 2012

    Excellent book!!

    I throughly enjoyed this book. The story and the sentence structure used to weave this enchanting and thought provoking tale are magical. After I finished reading the story, I felt as if I had to go back and reread it immediately in order to fully appreciate the author's incredible talent......the second reading was even more beautiful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 31, 2011

    Worth every page!

    Couldn't put it down! The writing was spectacular. Well worth every minute I spent reading

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  • Posted August 19, 2011

    Of

    Top read of the summer. Bar none.

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  • Posted August 11, 2011

    To Be Sung Underwater- A MUST read!!!

    To Be Sung Underwater, by Tom McNeal, is a moving story about a middle aged women and what has come of her life. Judith is a wife, mother, but most importantly a career women. Working in Hollywood as a television show editor, Judy puts in long hours at work and lives what others might call a perfect life. She has a handsome banker husband, a beautiful and smart daughter, and an impressive Hollywood career. Unbeknownst to those looking in, Judy has recently come to question her husband's fidelity as well as her detached relationship with her daughter, Camille. Judy finds herself at a crossroads while renting a storage unit for her childhood furniture. Instead of giving the storage company her true name Judy writes down an alias. She then spirals rather quickly into a life where she finds herself retreating to her storage space in order to dwell in the past and relive past regrets, namely regarding her first love, Willy. When Judy's mother finds out about her secret, she pointedly says, "I think you're trying to run away from home but don't know how to do it." As I started reading To Be Sung Underwater it quickly pulled me in and then refused to allow me to put it down. I really enjoyed how the novel switched back and forth between Judy's teenage life in Nebraska and her present life in L.A. Tom McNeal effortlessly exhibited how Judy developed and grew into an adult and how she lived as that adult. I felt that the character of Willy was very realistic and likeable. From the style that he dressed in, to the way he spoke, Willy was a great 3 dimensional character. Judy views Willy as the man she never really left behind. Judy thinks fondly of Willy and comes to realize that not only was he her first love, but quite possibly her one true love. McNeal shows what can unfold when second chances are presented and the past makes its way into the present. McNeal did an excellent job in creating a special relationship between Judy and her father. A summer trip to visit him in Nebraska turned into a permanent situation when Judy realized that his house and town felt more like home than her childhood home with her mother. Judy discovered a friend in her quiet father and enjoyed the time spent with him, be it driving around country roads, weeding the garden, reading aloud from novels, or doing homework at the same table that he graded papers. While they may not have spoken much, Judy found comfort and familiarity in their silence. I thought that McNeal did a terrific job painting the setting in To Be Sung Underwater. As the story unfolded I could perfectly visualize Nebraska, along with Judy and Willy's hangouts. McNeal gave life to the lakes, back roads, little towns, and storage unit. This helped To Be Sung Underwater feel profoundly realistic. Tom McNeal's, To Be Sung Underwater, is an excellent novel which I would without a doubt read again. I definitely recommend this novel to book lovers, both male and female. This complimentary book was received for the purpose of review from the publisher Little, Brown and Company and BookPleasures.

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  • Posted June 26, 2011

    Beautifully Written

    This book is a treasure. I felt as if I knew these characters intimately. The author doesn't "tie it up with a bow" at the end letting the reader speculate on the character's future. If you like well developed characters whose fate you ponder after the book is finished, you will enjoy this book.

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  • Posted June 8, 2011

    more from this reviewer

    Eternal love left behind...

    Having just finished "To Be Sung Underwater" today, I find myself heart-weary and contemplative...much like I felt after reading Pat Conroy's "The Prince of Tides," though the story lines are nothing alike and the protagonists are far from the same. This novel left me breathless, left me aching and longing for just one more time...just one more piece of the story...because I didn't want to put my own depth of feeling aside...again. Mr. McNeal is an author of extraordinary skill, with the capacity to share a depth of humanity and feeling that reaches beyond our minds to the heart of us. He's one of those special, wise men that are so rare, he has to be beloved by all who know him. He's a herald of the Midwest and the natural, simpler ways of life that are the bread and butter of our nation. He's an author whose work will come to mind often through the years. He gives us hope that through all the stresses, the paths leading to dead ends, and the corruption of our Age, love remains the constant and the most precious gift we can attain. And he reminds us that young love is as valuable and real as a love forged in later years. "To Be Sung Underwater" is a love story that will carry you along through joy and misunderstandings. It will take you back in time, and it will stir up memories. As Judith begins her journey of finding a young love with Willy, walks away from it and returns to find him again many years later, we travel alongside in our own fantasies of "what ifs." Tom McNeal causes us to reflect. "To Be Sung Underwater" is also a story about the history of a marriage of minds. A marriage like some of ours...forged by intellectual stimulation and likeness, a common goal and the following of a "better life" with all its rewards. It's the story of a marriage of good intentions and good companions...a marriage that makes sense and is a good match, but that fails over the long haul because it may not have had a foundation in true love. Not the love. Tom McNeal causes us to make an assessment. Judith's teenaged years to her days of middle age reveal her to be a character both powerful in her determination to know and rescue herself, as well as to save her life light which often seemed to be eaking away. The eventual marriage she's stayed in for nearly 20 years has become brittle and poisonious for her. Finding her husband's assistant in her own hotel room with a man she thinks may be her husband, is one of the catalysts that makes her move back in time to find where she lost sight of her self. Tom McNeal causes us to search ourselves. Willy of course represents lost dreams and the road less travelled. He's the beautiful boy of summer, the boy of all that's simple and natural and stressless. He's the Garden of Eden. He personifies love and its joys and passion. Willy is the one who makes time stand still and who is never forgotten~the love of Judith's life. He is the one she can be her authentic self with, and the one who really knows her. Willy is her safe place in a world that's crumbling around her...the one whom she loves eternally and who loves her, too. Tom McNeal offers us this opportunity to go back to those days when we were young and in love.. There is so much more to this gorgeous novel, but so little room to say it! I hope you will buy the book and enjoy many an hour of it. It's going to be one of the best books of 2011.

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    Posted July 1, 2011

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    Posted December 31, 2011

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    Posted October 2, 2013

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    Posted August 26, 2011

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    Posted July 10, 2011

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