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To be sung underwater : a novel
Tom McNeal
Adult Fiction MCNEAL

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From Publishers' Weekly:

Judith Whitman is 44, questioning her life, and thinking about the hometown boy she jilted almost 30 years before in McNeal's affecting second novel (after Goodnight, Nebraska). At Stanford, Judith had met the "older, urbane" Malcolm and they married, moved to Los Angeles, and built an enviable life. Now she's bored with her suave, unfaithful banker husband, guilty about her lack of maternal feelings for her teenage daughter, and overburdened and distracted at her job editing a "respected television drama." McNeal's agile prose manages to render Judith sympathetic, though she's not an easy character to like. Flashbacks evoke her youth in Vermont, and her decision, when her parents separate and her mother becomes neglectful, to move to Nebraska to live with her father. When Judith, as a high school senior, falls in love with Willy, a local intelligent and sensitive carpenter, she imagines a simple life in the town of Rufus Sage, but after she leaves for college the relationship unravels. Despite a slow start and dialogue heavy on aphorisms, McNeal succeeds with his obvious affection for the daily rhythms of life in Nebraska and his sensitive exploration of marital stresses and psychological accommodations, in addition to a moving surprise denouement. (June) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.

From Library Journal:

Judith Whitman is a 44-year-old successful film editor in Los Angeles, with patient husband Malcolm, teenage daughter Camille, and a big secret. Twenty-seven years after she left Rufus Sage, NE, to attend Stanford University, she can't stop thinking about her first love, Willy Blunt. Willy wanted to marry her, but she wanted to go to college first. Then she met Malcolm and just never returned. Judith's life veers off course because of her obsession, and under the assumed name Edie Winks, she hires a private detective to trace her Nebraska friend. She is shocked to find out that Willy ended up marrying her best friend, Deena. Nevertheless, he returns her call and leaves a distressing message that he needs to see her immediately. Covering her trip with lies and a fabricated story about her mother being in a hospital in Mexico, Judith takes off for Nebraska for one last reunion with Willy. Their meeting is very nostalgic but turns bittersweet when she learns the real reason for his desperate plea. VERDICT Award winner McNeal (Goodnight, Nebraska) deftly blends flashbacks of Judith's teen years living with her father in humdrum Rufus Sage with her crisis-filled life in fast-paced L.A. [See Prepub Alert, 12/13/10.]-Donna Bettencourt, Mesa Cty. P.L., Grand Junction, CO (c) Copyright 2011. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

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main characters Judith Whitman
Age: 44
Moved to Nebraska from Vermont when her parents separated; lived with her father; fell in love with a carpenter from her small home town, but left him behind when she went to college;bored with her unfaithful banker husband whom she met at Standford thirty years ago; feels guilty about her lack of maternal feelings for her teenage daughter; distracted with her job editing a television drama;.

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