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Weeping Underwater Looks a Lot Like Laughter

3.14  ·  Rating Details  ·  235 Ratings  ·  61 Reviews
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
Hardcover, 352 pages
Published February 4th 2010 by Putnam Adult (first published November 19th 2009)
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 581)
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Mar 06, 2010 Alison rated it did not like it
I don't even know where to begin. It was a very uneven book--written in a very flashy way, at times to the point of distraction, where I was having to read and reread sentences to find the meaning in all of the linguistic acrobatics. For the first half of the book (before the bad thing happens) I found myself dreading reading--it was just so slow as George described moving to a new town, falling in love with a girl at his high school, spending time with the girl's family, et cetera. Then once th ...more
Jul 13, 2010 Sara rated it really liked it
Shelves: giveaways
ARC received through the First Reads giveaway program.

This is a love story, but it's more complicated than that. It's about a boy and a girl, of course; but it's also about how the boy loves her sister, and she loves him back... and they all love each other, and the three of them together make this fantastic unit. It's hard to explain well, really. I wasn't completely sold on it when I read the First Reads description, but I thought there wasn't much to lose.

I'm glad I took the chance. This is
Feb 03, 2010 Bridget rated it it was amazing
George is the new kid in a strange town. Moving isn't easy, especially when you are a junior in high school. Now he has to make new friends and find a way to fit in with a crowd that baffles him. When he meets two sisters, Katie and Emily, he finally feels like he belongs. George is falling for Emily but Katie seems to understand him on a deeper level. Katie is at war with multiple sclerosis and even though she is the one with the disease, it affects Emily and George in a major way. What will ha ...more
Apr 09, 2010 Jacqueline rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2010
This book will stick with me for awhile. I read the end of it right after watching the 2009 movie Doubt, so now I question taking everything the first-person narrator says to be fact. What if his account of the tragedy really isn't the real truth?

George Flynn, a junior in high-school, moves from Davenport to Des Moines, Iowa, where he falls for Emily Schell while watching her in the leading role of a high-school play. The narrative story of the book is their story, George Flynn's account of his
Alex English
Apr 13, 2011 Alex English rated it really liked it
This new Novel by Michael J White is one of tragedy, love, and growth. At first, when I went into this book, I thought it was going to be a silly high school novel, but it grew into something deeper than that. The relationships between characters are relate-able and easy to fall in love with. The situations are difficult to bear and tragic, but the revolutions are beautiful. The writing is striking and eloquent.
Jul 27, 2011 Sherrie rated it it was amazing
Do you remember your first love? I do. Thinking back on it now, it was doomed from the start. It was mostly one sided on my part. This is George's problem. He loves Emily from afar. But Katie is the one that grabs his attention. Then the tragedy happens. He has to find some way to fix this. And what is the tragedy? And how does George fix it? You'll have to read the book to find out.
[ eff. i have no clue! ^o^ ]

 This book changed my point of view, it really got me thinking about how teenagers think, and how I will look back at my teenage 
years in twenty years or so and laugh at the the dumb things I did, or
situations that i didn't think were so bad then, might be bad now.

Amazingly Good! I give it Two Thumbs Up!

May 08, 2012 Tahira rated it it was ok
I am starting this new thing. I am going to call a book by whatever it is that I see it as. No more sympathizing with stories for me. Beginning with Weeping Underwater Looks a Lot Like Laughter, I'm telling it like it is.

Let me tell you, I did not like this book. I wanted to like this book, but I didn't. Of all of the books I have read so far this year, this is the one book that I resented reading. Once I commit to a book, I commit to the end. But with this novel, I wished it would end 100 pages
Aug 13, 2011 Doreen rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: someone who is not afraid of a sad story
Recommended to Doreen by: bookpages
I liked this book. There were times in the beginning that the writing was a little slow and barely kept my interest. Thankfully, that didn't last very long. I would definitely recommend this book to others. Most of the rest of the book moved along at a reasonable pace. The writing itself is very good.

The story is all about a high school boy who moves into a new town. Both his youthful uncertainty and refreshing optimism are part of the story. Young love is the best kind and viewing this teenage
Jessica Oban
Feb 27, 2010 Jessica Oban rated it really liked it
Recommended to Jessica by: First Reads
An enticing novel with a weird beginning ("What's up with this murder? What does it have to do with anything?"). But as I read through, I was gripped by these two sisters that the narrator meets.

One sister is sick and the other... well, she has some deep problems. The writer did a wonderful job of getting me to care about all the characters (except, perhaps Emily's friends), especially the sisters, which of course was the intent. They all felt so real.

The only problem that I had with it was the
This was a book mostly about a man's first love and her little sister. Emily (his first love) and Katie (her sister) changed his life in a lot of ways and this is him as an adult (and english teacher I think) explaining it all. George is a lovable character, smart, interesting and you feel for the guy. Katie was adorable and probably my favorite character and Emily, I had mixed feelings about. All in all, this is a well written book, gets your attention, funny, heartbreaking, sad, leaves you fee ...more
Feb 15, 2010 Marisa rated it it was ok
This book had a lot of potential and it fell short of every expectation I had. The characters were boring and Geaorge (the main character) whined too much about Emily. The only character in the book that I liked was Katie. and she dies a little less than halfway through the book. Coinidently that is the only good part of the book that was written in a way I could enjoy even if it was a sad part. At one point I was so bored by the book it took me 2 days just t read 3 pages cause I kept putting it ...more
Megan Hansen
Feb 22, 2010 Megan Hansen rated it really liked it
Shelves: books-i-won, fiction
Weeping Underwater Looks a Lot Like Laughter is a clever character driven story. I generally don’t enjoy books about high school kids, but White wrote fleshed out characters with as much charm as fault in them. I also, as a rule, don't like coming of age stories as they can be overdone and predictable, this book didn't fall into that category. This was a decent, interesting, story. If your thing is reading about young adults dealing with death and overcoming, you’ll love this book.
Krystle Van Dyke
Mar 09, 2012 Krystle Van Dyke rated it really liked it
This book contained very beautiful language and a contemporary writing style. The characters kept me intrigued throughout the entirety of the novel. The plot takes a while to form, but once the book gets going, it becomes hard to put down. I would definitely recommend this book, and would even reread it. I would suggest this book as a good read for someone looking for easily-understood writing, and a plot that speaks its own words to everyone who reads it.
Mar 27, 2010 Peggy rated it it was ok
Wasn't a very good book. It is about an Iowa High School wrestler, his girlfriend (maybe) and her younger sister who has MS. It is set in the senior year, and tells about some of the regular activities at school. The social activities left me amazed. Do high school students really have keg parties every weekend? The only fun in the whole book is the sister with MS who is witty, smart and very sarcastic. The blurb was better than the book.
Jul 04, 2010 Jodie rated it liked it
This is one of those reads that grows on you the more you distance yourself from the book. I enjoyed it when I read it, but I find myself liking it more as time goes on. The characters are interesting and I find myself thinking about the book from time to time.
Apr 24, 2015 Tasha rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This book is phenomenal. It's so well-written and honest that I'm having a hard time believing that it's entirely fiction. This man (the author) is fantastic, and I love him. (figuratively, of course)
Jul 02, 2010 Angel rated it it was amazing
Great book about the kind of first love that makes you crazy - almost everyone can relate to that. Interesting characters, love the midwest setting, a literary read that is fun as well.
Apr 04, 2011 Carra rated it really liked it
Surprisingly well written. I was shocked by how much I enjoyed this book. The author has a very original way of writing dialog. His voice reminds me of the perks of wall flowers for adults.
Jun 23, 2010 anne rated it it was amazing
Diane Ferbrache
Mar 15, 2010 Diane Ferbrache rated it liked it
George is a nice guy. He's new in town and meets the Schell sisters -- charming, beautiful Emily and her free-spirited sister, Katie, who happens to have MS. George falls for Emily, Katie falls for George, and they become an inseparable threesome, until tragedy intervenes.

This is a wonderful story, told in George's touching voice. I cared what happened to each of them, and cried and laughed along with the family. Katie is a fabulous character. Everyone's reactions were believable and true to the
Larry Hoffer
Seventeen-year-old George Flynn and his family move to Des Moines, IA, just before the start of his junior year in high school. He finds it difficult to fit in but almost immediately falls for Emily Schell, a bewitching and mercurial aspiring actress who weaves her charms through the school. As George's unrequited crush on Emily grows stronger and he longs to move beyond friendship, he also falls under the spell of Emily's immensely precocious younger sister, Katie, who has multiple sclerosis. G ...more
Feb 24, 2013 Tiffany rated it it was ok
In between wrestling practices, George Flynn moves to a new town and meets two very unique sisters. He falls for the older of the two, Emily who is an aspiring actress. The younger –and very opinionated but ill- Katie, falls for George. A strange love-triangle ensues though George is guilty of using Katie and her blatant affections to get to her more elusive sister. Then, on a trip gone wrong, George and Emily experience a tragedy that tears them apart.
The book is a slow read. To be honest, I
Oct 07, 2011 Guillermo rated it liked it
Michael J. White set off to tell us a story about love, loss, lust, love, and loss. In short, with his debut novel - Weeping Underwater Looks a Lot Like Laughter - he gives us a story about high school romance and infatuations. It's like no other than I have read in the past. It presses us to feel, see the through the eyes of the narrator, George Flynn, and his days with the Schell girls, Emily, his love interest, and Katie, the little sister. When tragedy strikes, George's life - social, famili ...more
This is a novel about a turbulent couple of years in the lives and the relationship of two teenagers, George Flynn and Emily Schell, becoming young adults in Iowa. It's told by the adult George, who often lets slip information about his current life which clues us in to how the story we're reading will end. George also makes it explicitly clear to his readers that he's writing a book about his experiences, and that he's aware that he didn't plan it out in detail before starting, and also that, e ...more
Sara Pauff
Jan 11, 2011 Sara Pauff rated it liked it
Shelves: library-books
I started out loving this novel, but it became a bit of a chore to finish. It tells the story of George Flynn and his relationship with his first girlfriend, Emily Schell and her little sister Katie.
The writing is well executed and beautiful, technically; there were several passages I wished I could have underlined and noted for later (I checked my copy out from the library). The character of Katie Schell stood out in particular. Her dark humor and curiosity had me waiting for me her next line a
Apr 10, 2011 Frances rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Jul 26, 2010 Betsy rated it it was ok
This author clearly had a powerful coming-of-age experience during his short stay in Des Moines - which is what this book is about. For people from Des Moines, this novel is a kick because it describes in minute detail places in and around Des Moines - down to the Y on 73rd street, B-bops, Saylorville Lake, Grandview, Lions Park, the hockey rink and Down Under bar on Hickman. Oddly, it camouflages other local landmarks with made-up names - like Dowling High School and a few others. (lawsuit conc ...more
May 28, 2010 Allyson rated it liked it
this was a really clever little book with a great idea and a lot of momentum initially, but it dropped off midway & too much sex although I know the subject matter was George's first love. But it was too much of a tease, and too little made of his current life which he eludes to, but never really gets around to in the end which left me wondering what happened to him other than he taught English. Too little of Katie who seemed the most interesting, too little of Emily other than as a sex obje ...more
Angela Elmer
Feb 15, 2010 Angela Elmer rated it it was ok
Shelves: first-reads
I had a little trouble getting started with this book. The author described things a little excessively for my taste. (Less is more) But after getting through the first few chapters I just didn't notice it as much. I ended up liking the story. (I still had trouble with the authors writing style and that's why it doesn't really get a good score from me.) I really liked George and didn't really like Emily although for most of the book I was rooting for them to get together. Over all I thought the ...more
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Michael was born in St. Louis and raised throughout the Midwest. A Columbia University MFA graduate, he lives in Brooklyn, New York.

Michael is currently at work on his second novel, some film scripts, and the next stage performance by the Garage Theatre Troupe of Minneapolis.
More about Michael J. White...

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