“Deer can jump fences, but antelope can’t . . . it’s a failing that almost costs them their lives,” Willy Blunt once told Judith Whitman. For Judith, it’s little tidbits like this—and other cherished memories from her past—that don’t bear their full weight until life comes full circle nearly 30 years after she left her childhood home. What—and who—Judith chose to leave behind in Rufus Sage, Nebraska, leaves her wondering if she’s missed her chance at real happiness.

Judith begins withdrawing from her meticulous California life to revisit her past in Rufus Sage. While reinventing parts of her past years, Judith travels back to a period where love and living were simpler. These times were filled discussing literature with her caring father and spending lazy afternoons at the lake with her first love, Willy. The lifelong regret Judith feels from leaving Willy when she went to college inspires her to pack up and re-experience life with him. With one phone call, she abruptly leaves her husband, her teenage daughter and her life on the West Coast to return to Rufus Sage and spend time with Willy. Little does Judith realize that bridging the gap between the past and present is always more complicated than it seems.

To Be Sung Underwater beautifully sings the story of one woman’s wrestling with the present realities of a life she created after shedding her hometown skin and abandoning the lover who knew her best. Author Tom McNeal (Goodnight, Nebraska) intricately develops the emotional ties between his characters, capturing the essence of the human heart while rejoicing in the restorative power of reconnection. The novel shows that we may not be able to bring our past with us into the present, but by looking back, we might see just where we are truly meant to be.

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