BOOK TOUR REVIEW: The Homecoming of Samuel Lake by Jenny Wingfield
Every first Sunday in June, members of the Moses clan gather for an annual reunion at a sprawling hundred-acre farm in Arkansas. And every year, Samuel Lake, a vibrant and committed young preacher, brings his beloved wife, Willadee Moses, and their three children back for the festivities. In the midst of it all, Samuel and Willadee’s outspoken eleven-year-old daughter, Swan, is a bright light. Her high spirits and fearlessness have alternately seduced and bedeviled three generations of the family. But just as the reunion is getting under way, tragedy strikes, jolting the family to their core and setting the stage for a summer of crisis and profound change.
MY THOUGHTS: 5 OUT OF 5 FLEURS DE LIS
Every first Sunday in June, John and Calla Moses bring their children and extended family together for the Moses family reunion. Willadee, the only Moses daughter, and her husband Samuel Lake, who is a preacher, bring their three children down from Louisiana just for the week.
But in 1956, the reunion did not turn out at all as planned. The alcoholic Moses patriarch takes his own life, and Sam and Willadee Lake stay, along with the kids, to help Calla run the farm. Over the next year, things unfold most unexpectedly. Swan, the Lakes’ 11 year old daughter, befriends a younger boy named Blade Ballinger, who just wants a respite from his horrific home situation. The lives of the Lakes, Moses, and Ballingers become fatefully entwined, and the outcome may be too much for some of them to bear.
This is a book that is close to my heart, as I was born, raised, and still live in the South (Louisiana). It was a powerful read, and there were several moments that tore my heart apart.
The author did a phenomenal job with both the world building and character development. The portrait she created of the farm was so vivid. I could see myself sitting on the Moses’ porch or walking alongside the creek. The cast of characters is large, but by no means does that make each one any less deep. Whether it’s the fun and vivacious Swan or the ghoulish Ras Ballinger, you not only get into the mind of the character, but they get into yours–and your heart.
It was magical to travel to another time, where neighbors were willing and able to help each other, and people could leave not only their homes, but their businesses, open and unlocked. I believe this is a large part of why I love living in the South so much. Some of these ideals are still alive down here.
This novel delves into so many subjects, it’s a little hard to focus on just one thing to spotlight in a review. I can’t really call this novel Christian fiction, but the question of God and trusting in your faith is brought up more than once and makes the reader wonder these things as well. It’s not really a novel about child abuse, but the things that Blade went through will stay with you long after you’ve read it. It is a novel about the twisted journey that is life, and how just living it brings you to places you never expected to be.
About the Author
Jenny Wingfield lives in Texas with her rescued dogs, cats, and horses. Her screenplay credits include The Man in the Moon and The Outsider.The Homecoming of Samuel Lake is her first novel.