The Homecoming of Samuel Lake by Jenny Wingfield
Title: The Homecoming of Samuel Lake
Author: Jenny Wingfield
Publisher: Random House Publishing Group
How I Read It: ARC received from the publisher – The views expressed in my review are mine alone and I have received no compensation for these opinions.
Synopsis: 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.
*Synopsis taken from Goodreads
My Review: This book opens with a doozy of a line and I was hooked from that moment forward. I didn’t want to set this one down, I just couldn’t wait to get back into it and see what was going to happen next to Swan and her brothers – that is one crazy set of kids!
The story starts out simple enough, with the Lake family heading back to Arkansas from Louisiana for a family reunion. An unfortunate turn of events turns the reunion into quite the tragedy, and sets the tone for a strange and revealing summer, full of learning and tragedy. I loved this book, but it was rather heartbreaking and I found myself alternating between laughter and tears at various points in the book.
You’re probably going to see a lot of the same things about Swan, and all I can really say is she is a delight. Swan is the kind of girl I hope I have some day: strong, proud, brave, and a bit too daring. I sat here, reading the story and thinking “Oh boy, she is gonna get into some trouble!” and coming out astounded by that amazing little girl.
The villain of this story is a terrible man, who leaves you cringing and always wondering what evil deed he’s going to do next. He’s one of those kinds of people that you can just feel the terror swirling around him, and it’s all the worse because you know that people like him really do exist. My desire to know his ultimate fate kept me going through some of the harder sections of the book, because despite my love for it, there were some bits I really had a hard time reading.
I felt so sucked into this book, like I was there experiencing the horses, cowbells, and church revivals along with the characters. The details were so vivid, it was almost as though I could reach in and slap a few people I really felt deserved it. The author also managed to surprise me with the directions she took things, much of it going in the opposite way I thought it would, and that made it all the more lovely to read.
While religion is a key piece of this book, this isn’t a religious book, which I liked. The religion was simply there because Samuel is a preacher, and this is the south in the 50s. It was a big part of some of their lives, so it’s a big part of the story and really helps to propel the events along. I mean, what else do you have to do when you live in a small town? You get involved in other people’s business, and go to a lot of church!
Also, although there are some scenes that were very difficult to read, I would love to see a film adaptation of this one. Some movie people should make that happen!
Read this book if: I’m going to recommend this book to everyone I can get to listen, so I say pick this one up as soon as you can. As much as it may make you cry, it’s worthwhile and I don’t think you’ll regret it.
My Rating: 4.5/5 – Borderline amazing!