First loves tend to leave an impression forever. With first loves we experience a lot of emotions that we never thought we could feel before about another person. Whether the impressions first loves leave are good or bad, they impact our lives and help shape us into who we are today. Tom McNeal explores this emotional connection in his novel To Be Sung Underwater.
As a young girl Judith Toomey goes through the experience of her parents separation. Her father moves to Nebraska for a new teaching position while she stays in Vermont with her mother. Through the years of living with never knowing if the power will be turned off and her mother wanting to live like she was Judith’s age, Judith decides to spend one summer with her father in Nebraska. Once there, she falls into a comfortable routine and, on returning to Vermont, decides to finish out her high school years in Nebraska.
In her third Nebraskan summer, the summer before going off to college, Judith meets Willy Blunt, a carpenter and her first true love. By the end of the summer, with the talk of marriage in the air, Judith goes to Stanford University, and, in the transition of a new experience, forgets about Nebraska and the friends she left behind. Even Willy.
Now, 27 years later, Judith is married with a daughter, but she can’t help wonder what happened to the people she left behind. Contacting an investigator, Judith begins her search for the love she left behind, hoping she will find him and that he will forgive her.
To Be Sung Underwater is a beautiful novel with two contrasting settings that give the reader a view of how easily Judith can change her life, while the ones she loves have a harder time with change. The characters are very relatable, and easy to fall in love with. The relationship between Judith and Willy is so pure, the reader will quickly see the true love that keeps them together, even years after they are apart.