Weeping Underwater Looks a Lot Like Laughter

By Michael J. White
(Putnam Adult, Hardcover, 9780399155901, 352pp.)

Publication Date: February 4, 2010

Other Editions of This Title: Paperback

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A smart, darkly funny, yet poignant debut novel about coming of age without coming undone.

Seventeen-year-old George Flynn-an all-around decent guy-has just moved with his family to Des Moines, a place where he knows no one and is pretty much nobody. Despite this inauspicious start to his junior year, he soon finds his niche, falling in with the unique, enchant­ing Schell sisters. Emily, an aspiring actress and free spirit, becomes the object of George's mostly unrequited yearnings. But it's Katie, with her quirks, her scathing deadpan humor, and her brave battle with multiple sclerosis, who really gets George hooked on the Schells. When an out- of-the-blue trag­edy strikes, upsetting the delicate balance of all their lives, George must figure out a way to help Emily in order to save himself.

Told with both razor-sharp wit and deep empathy from George's later adult perspective, this is a moving, memorable debut novel about friendship and first love-about dealing with grief and trying to grow up without losing yourself along the way.

About the Author

Michael J. White was born and raised in St. Louis, Missouri, though he did spend a few formative years in Des Moines. He is a Columbia MFA graduate and now lives in Brooklyn.

Conversation Starters from ReadingGroupChoices.com


  1. How does George and Zach Flynn's relationship grow over the course of the story? Do you sense that one looks up to the other and, if so, who and why? Do their roles ever shift throughout their lives?

Praise For Weeping Underwater Looks a Lot Like Laughter

"A blood-red first love story, a raw dealing of tragedy and its aftermath, and a wild spin through the lust and grief-addled mind of one of the most honest and deliriously inventive narrators I've ever read. Weeping Underwater will leave you hoarse from laughing, weak in the knees, possibly craving Iowa State Fair pickles, and helplessly in love." – Karen Russell, author of St. Lucy’s Home for Girls Raised by Wolves

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