Jul 16, 2012

Review & Giveaway! The Homecoming of Samuel Lake by Jenny Wingfield (A TLC Book Tour Event)

There are no spoilers in this review

THE HOMECOMING OF SAMUEL LAKE is the story of a preacher looking for a church  to call his own.  It's the story of a young girl, full of equal parts spunk and goodness who wants nothing more in the world than to have a true friend - someone she can share all her deepest thoughts with. It's the story of a little boy who is deathly afraid of his daddy and has every reason to be, and it's the story of a man who fought for his country, gave a big part of himself to it yet his biggest battle took place after he returned home from the war.

THE HOMECOMING OF SAMUEL LAKE isn't just about Sam Lake, the preacher, though.  It's more about his family and how their life changes the summer of 1956 when they move back to rural Arkansas to live on his in-law's farm while he figures out his next move. But the real gem of this wonderful story is Sam's daughter, Swan, who desperately wants to be like other kids (not a preacher's kid) and to have a true friend.

At the core, this is a story of one family, raised on love, respect and goodness and another family, the Ballenger's, raised on fear, violence and hatred.  Ultimately becoming a story of good versus evil.  The Lake/Moses family have nothing in common with the Ballenger family, other then there are two kids, Swan Lake (gotta love that name!) and Blade Ballenger, who meet under unusual circumstances and strike up an unlikely friendship. A friendship that undoubtedly brings danger to Swan and her family.

My Thoughts:

There's no other way to say it - I LOVED THIS BOOK! It is the kind of Southern Literature that I enjoy most. The story definitely has dark undertones that have been compared to TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD. I feel like if it's being compared to that book, Jenny Wingfield has done something right! Once I read that she also wrote the screenplay for THE MAN IN THE MOON,  (Reese Witherspoon's debut movie from 1991), I wasn't at all surprised by how much I loved this book. Though a good Christian family is at the forefront of this story, early on I became acutely aware that a darkness was looming. You know its going to come, you just don't know when or how. I even found myself wanting to call out 'Watch out!' or 'Oh no!' 

The driving forces behind this amazing story are the characters, especially Swan, Blade and my favorite character, Toy Moses, Swan's quiet but strong uncle. Jenny Wingfield does a superb job taking us through the lives of Samuel and Willadee and their three children, Willadee's mother and Toy Moses and his wife, Bernice. She gives us a glimpse of each one's persona without bogging the story down with too much information, all the while not taking away from the intense story that unfolds seamlessly. .

The beautiful writing is perfectly paced and made the pages slip quickly by.  I experienced so many emotions while reading this book: happiness, love, sorrow, fear, horror, outrage.. More than once I had a lump in my throat and tears streaming down my face. In fact, the last hour of reading I used up all my tissues. The poignancy in this novel is so prevalent and is what helped to made it a favorite of mine. I didn't find anything cliche about this novel at all. I found it relative to the time in which it was based and the character were genuine and original.

Without a doubt THE HOMECOMING OF SAMUEL LAKE is the best book I've read this year. Once I started, I didn't want to stop. This book is much more than Southern Literature, its GREAT Literature! As for Jenny Wingfield, I am on the lookout for whatever she does next.

I am thrilled to be able to give away a copy of this book, thanks to Random House and TLC Book Tours. Simply leave a comment with your email address link so that I can contact you. The contest will end Tuesday, July 17th at midnight and the winner will be posted here on Wednesday, July 18th. Entrants are limited to the US only.

Be sure to check out these other blog stops on the tour to see what other bloggers are saying about this book!

Author: Jenny Wingfield
Publisher: Random House
Published: July 10, 2012
Pages: 352
Source: TLC Book Tours & Publisher
Rating: 5 Stars out of 5


  1. Wow, best book of the year is high praise! I didn't realize this book is set in the south. It sounds like a must read. (No need to enter me in the contest.)

  2. Sounds like a fantastic book, especially since it stirs up so many emotions and requires so many tissues. I've heard nothing but good things about it so far, so please throw my name into the hat!

    diaryofaneccentric at hotmail dot com

  3. I'm just here to say I agree with you ten-fold - I LOVE THIS BOOK! I've read. I've given it as a gift. I've thought and dreamed about it being turned into a movie.

    No need to enter me in the drawing. Great review!

  4. Every word you said is true -- I loved this book and as time goes by, it grows on me even more. I read it last summer, one Sunday morning, in a matter of hours -- I couldn't put it down. So beautiful, so sad, so atmospheric -- yum!

  5. I have checked this book out from the library TWICE and had to return it both times before I could get to it. I clearly need my own copy!

  6. Quite an endorsement. I'd love to win this. Thanks for the chance.

    nanze55 at hotmail dot com

  7. You and every other reviewer is gushing over this one. I'd love to win!

  8. Glad you enjoyed this book so much. I wasn't sure it sounded like something I would enjoy, but it sounds good in your review. (No need to enter me into contest.)

  9. I loved Toy too...I didn't really mention him in my review (there was so much ground that could have been covered), but I really enjoyed his characterization. I had more empathy for him than just about any other character. Awesome, awesome book!

  10. I'm with you on every word you wrote about this AWESOME book!! It landed on my best reads list last year. After reading it I cried, but I cried off and on while I was reading this book. The characters were so damn real!! Talented author!!! This should be a movie as long as they don't ruin it!!

  11. I really enjoyed this book as well!

    Thanks for being on the tour.

  12. This comment has been removed by the author.

  13. Thank you for your review. I have been wanting to read this since it came out last year. I am also a southern book blogger, but have not read many this year that interests me. I found you on fb, the Southern book blog site. If you are interested you may visit me at http://susansliterarycafe.blogspot.com.

  14. Your review is wonderful, and before today I hadn't heard of this book. Thanks for bringing it to my attention; it's going on my list right now.


Thank you so much for taking the time to leave a comment! I look forward to hearing from you again soon!