The Homecoming of Samuel Lake

The Homecoming of Samuel Lake

A Novel

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Every first Sunday in June, members of the Moses clan gather for an annual reunion at "the old home place," 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. The children embrace the reunion as a welcome escape from the prying eyes of their father's congregation; for Willadee it's a precious opportunity to spend time with her mother and father, Calla and John. But just as the reunion is getting under way, tragedy strikes, jolting the family to their core: John's untimely death and, soon after, the loss of Samuel's parish, which set the stage for a summer of crisis and profound change. 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 it is Blade Ballenger, a traumatized eight-year-old neighbor, who soon captures Swan’s undivided attention. Full of righteous anger, and innocent of the peril facing her and those she loves, Swan makes it her mission to keep the boy safe from his terrifying father.
Publisher: ** E-Book // Click on DOWNLOAD link to place holds
ISBN: 9780307737045
Branch Call Number: EBOOK AUDIO
Alternative Title: OverDrive


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Jul 21, 2018

In a wise and tender debut, Jenny Wingfield tells a heartrending-but-triumphant story set in rural Arkansas in the 1950s. While she accurately portrays the simplicity of family and farm-kid life in that era (the children in the book spend lots of time playing by the creek and pretending to go after outlaws), she also threads the story with darker themes (suicide, domestic abuse, infidelity, etc.) that were as much a reality then as they are today.

Fair warning: The evil perpetrated by vile antagonist Ras Ballenger is hard to read. Fortunately, without any sugar coating, Wingfield circles to a "how can good people respond when bad things happen?" perspective, offsetting the hard things with vivid examples of a family loving and standing by one another in daily life, in moments of personal uncertainty and in crisis.

While the title makes it sound like Samuel Lake is the key character, his 11-year-old daughter, Swan, largely takes that role. Swan is headstrong, plucky and wholly likable. (Some other reviewers have compared her to Scout Finch, and I concur with that assessment.) Wingfield's development of the central characters in the Lake and Moses families made me feel like I lived down the road from and had Sunday dinner with these folks. I felt I knew them that well.

I loved the insights the reader gets, not just of how the whole family functions, but of the relationships between Samuel and Willadee, Willadee and Calla, and Swan, Toy and Blade. Without being the least bit heavy-handed, Wingfield also delivers rather profound perspectives on faith, redemption and miracles. She seems to have given readers a realistic model for responding to life's circumstances, both in good and bad times.

Jul 28, 2012

This book is absolutely wonderful -- charming, heartwarming, and sometimes gut-wrenchingly realistic. Catherine Taber's reading of it in the audio version truly brings the characters to life. Her accent is perfect for the story; her interpretation of it, a gift to the listener.


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