Over the past couple of years, I have come to appreciate the type of book that I like to say represents "good storytelling". These are the books that can transport me to a different time and place and leave me thinking about the characters long after I've finished reading.
The Homecoming of Samuel Lake is good storytelling, plain and simple. I shouldn't be surprised; the author Jenny Wingfield is also credited with writing The Man in the Moon, one of my favorite movies as a young teenager.
Surprisingly, the book is less about Samuel Lake himself (a recently-displaced Methodist minister) than it is about his wife and children. He comes through with a bang at the end, but contrary to its title, this is not Samuel's story. The real star of the show is Samuel's young daughter Swan (yes, Swan Lake!). She is precocious and spunky, genuine and endearing. Really, though, the story is much bigger than any one character. It's a complex story of family, faith, redemption, and the battle between good and evil.
There are so many things to love about this novel: the rural Louisiana setting, the hilarious and captivating Lake children, strong, resilient female characters, unshakable family bonds, and the subtle exploration of the adult characters' relationships to one another. In fact, the quiet, understated glimpses into Samuel and Willadee's marriage were some of my favorite scenes of the entire book. Take this passage, for example:
Samuel didn't argue. When he and Willadee had gotten married, and the preacher had asked her whether she would love, honor, and obey, she had answered like a Moses. "Yes, yes, and that all depends," she had said with a grin. The Moses family had laughed, and the Lake family had winced, and Sam Lake had taken his bride with the conditions laid out. Up until now, those conditions had never caused any real problems.I am not exaggerating when I say this will likely be my favorite book of the year. I am not liberal with the five-star reviews on Goodreads, but The Homecoming of Samuel Lake earned it, fair and square.
**I received a digital edition of this book from the publisher through TLC Book Tours. For more reviews and giveaways, check out the full tour schedule here.
Want to read this awesome book for yourself? I am glad to report that the publisher, Random House, is offering to give away a copy of The Homecoming of Samuel Lake to one reader!
- To enter, just leave a comment on this post and make sure your email is linked, or to leave a way for me to contact you.
- I will select a winner at random on Sunday, July 22 at 10:00 p.m. central time.
- U.S./Canada residents only
If you want, tell me in your comment if you've seen the movie The Man in the Moon!