Rated Reads

The Homecoming of Samuel Lake

by Jenny Wingfield

Rated: High

Eleven-year-old Swan Lake is a preacher’s daughter, down in Louisiana. Every summer, she goes with her momma and two brothers to her momma’s home place, up in Arkansas, for a Moses family reunion. This particular reunion is remarkable for two reasons, both of which completely change Swan’s life.

In a world of biscuits and horses, preachin’ and drinkin’, there is love and beauty as well as a darkness and evil that won’t stay put. Swan’s pluck and fierce faith give her courage as she learns that we all have to somehow navigate that darkness.

I have spent quite a long time thinking about how to sum up this beautiful and harsh book. I love that I listened to it, the Southern drawl of the reader did much to soak me in Swan’s life and time. Nothing is wasted in this story — each detail and each person is a critical piece of the Moses family story, and I love how the threads all make their way back together. I also loved Swan’s father’s faith, how his faith helped Swan find her own, and how for them, God and his miracles are very much a real part of their lives.

As gritty and raw as this book is, I actually gasped and put my hand over my mouth at one point — the evil is so frightening that it could be very upsetting. It’s an evil that has no redemption or remorse. And yet somehow — and this is how I know this author is amazing — all that evil did not create a completely depressing book. There are also little moments of light, snapshots of a beauty so thick that it almost hurts, shiny bits of wisdom and humanity that, especially in contrast to all that evil, somehow make us believe that it’s all going to be okay.

I cannot recommend this book to everyone, but if you think this sounds like something you’d appreciate, I do definitely recommend the audiobook — it gripped me from the beginning.

Rated: High for scenes of child abuse, rape, and 40-plus uses of mild language as well as some moderate language

— Reviewed by Corinne Edwards

Corinne Edwards is always happiest when a book is in her hand. If her current read needs to be closed for a short time, either in her backpack while she leads her three rambunctious children on adventures, or on her nightstand while she sleeps, that's okay too. Her book thoughts and reviews land at her bookish blog, The Book Nest.

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  • The Homecoming of Samuel Lake
  • by Jenny Wingfield
  • Rated: High
  • Genre: Fiction
  • Reviewer: