Reviewed by Anne Boling for Readers' Favorite
To Be Sung Underwater was written by Tom McNeal. The plot centers on Judith, a married woman going through a midlife crisis. The text moves smoothly back and forth through time as the 40-something Judith thinks back on her childhood and teen years. The catalyst that brings on the midlife crisis was the purchase of a new bedroom suite for her daughter. Her husband buys the furniture without Judith’s knowledge and moves the older suite outside. The older furniture had sentimental significance to Judith. She equates the furniture to her childhood and her father. Judith rents a storage locker and has the furniture moved there. She sets the locker up like a bedroom; and when she needs time alone, she visits the locker and naps on her bed. She seems rather unhappy in her marriage, and she and her daughter do not get along. Judith begins to daydream about a man from her past. Willy was a carpenter, and she adored him. She wonders what life would have been like if she had married him.
I’ve already given away too much of the plot, but I had to. I consider To Be Sung Underwater a character study. Let’s face it, all of us in the over-40-crowd have wondered what life would have been like if... Tom McNeal successfully captures the essence of midlife. The characters were all flawed, which made them very realistic; after all, we are all flawed in some manner. Judith was a successful business woman with what appeared to be everything she could ever want, except a faithful husband. She wasn’t sure, but she suspected he was cheating. Her daughter was obnoxious but so was her husband. Both had little regard for Judith’s feelings or well being. No wonder Judith was looking back at her past and thinking how wonderful it was.
McNeal is a master at his craft. Until I started writing this I did not realize how much this book had affected me. This review is on the audio version and I would be remiss if I did not mention the quality of the sound. Susan Boyce, the reader, had just the right voice to add to the ambiance of this book. The title is very appropriate in more than one way. While Willy had a special way with words, so does this author. I have one criticism: the ending was a letdown. I was left wanting more. However, the road to the ending was sweet and enchanting.