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August 26, 2011 / Leslie

Review: To Be Sung Underwater

To Be Sung Underwater
by Tom McNeal
Read by: Susan Boyce

Genre: Women’s Literature
Publisher: Hachette Audio
Publish Date: June 2011
Format: Downloadable Audio | 15 Hours and 15 min
Rating: 5 of 5

Judith Whitman has been married twenty years now, her high school days long behind her. When her husband buys new furniture for their daughter’s bedroom, removing Judith’s old childhood furniture, it triggers memories long buried. She does not want to part with the bird’s eye maple bedroom set. She secretly rents a storage unit under a fake name for the furniture and reconstructs her childhood room spending hours there thinking back on her last summer and Willy, the boy she left behind.

After Judith moved to California to attend Stanford University, she lost touch with Willy and her high school friends from Nebraska. Her thoughts about that summer have become an obsession with Judith spending increasing amounts of time at the storage unit with negative effects on her job and her family. Eventually she hires a detective to track down Willy and two friends. But what will she do if he finds them? Should she call Willy?

I listened to the audio book knowing little about the story other than the publisher’s summary. I was looking for an easy summer read but what I got was a powerful, emotional journey down a young woman’s memory lane. There are two stories in this novel: Judith’s past before she left for college and the present, her life as it is today. The book moves easily between the two time periods tying them together in the end.

The writing was lovely and descriptive. This was the first audio book I’d listened to narrated by Susan Boyce. Her voice is pleasant and easy to listen to, as if Judith herself were telling the story. Until I wrote my review I didn’t realize the book was 15 hours long. There are many long, lyrical passages to be savored and enjoyed. My listening time passed quickly.

I liked Judith and I liked Willy and at times I was sad they didn’t spend their life together. In the end we feel both their happiness and sadness for what was and what could have been. We’re left with a lot of unanswered questions which will make good discussion topics for book groups. I did like the ending but I’m pretty sure not everyone will agree with me. Highly recommended.

Source: Review copy provided by Hachette Audio.



Leave a Comment
  1. BermudaOnion / Aug 26 2011 3:32 pm

    I’ve got this in print, but your review makes me wish I had the audio version. It sounds like a book to get lost in.


  2. Diane@BibliophileBytheSea / Aug 26 2011 9:18 pm

    Leslie…this sounds like a wonderful audio book. I need to check the library. Great review.


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