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.
With characters who spring to life as vividly as if they were members of one’s own family, and with the clear-eyed wisdom that illuminates the most tragic—and triumphant—aspects of human nature, Jenny Wingfield emerges as one of the most vital, engaging storytellers writing today. In The Homecoming of Samuel Lake she has created a memorable and lasting work of fiction.
The Homecoming of Samuel Lake is an extraordinary debut by author Jenny Wingfield who tells of one young preacher’s encounters with sin, forgiveness and their aftermath. Set in 1950s Arkansas, what has become an annual event for the Moses clan, bringing together Samuel and his wife, Willadee, with many family members and friends including Willadee’s parents, Calla and John. The tragic death of John rocks the family to its core and ultimately brings about transformations in the family that forever emblazon John’s life in their memories. Wingfield masterfully crafts her characters with real flaws and traits so believable that readers will gain a sense of knowing her characters. I was particularly touched by the Moses’ 11-year-old daughter, Swan, whose friendship with Blade is both heartbreaking for the parental abuse that Blade must endure and heartwarming for the love, safety and compassion Blade finds in his new found friend. Wingfield has shown her talent in this tale that contrasts good and evil, sin and redemption, animosity and compassion. Book discussion groups will find this debut to be an excellent choice to branch out into discussions of many universal themes. I highly recommend The Homecoming of Samuel Lake to all readers.
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.
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I received an arc of The Homecoming of Samuel Lake by Jenny Wingfield from TLC Book Tours to be a part of this tour and offer my honest review of the book. Receiving a complimentary copy in no way reflected my review of aforementioned book.