Friday, January 18, 2013
The Homecoming of Samuel Lake by Jenny Wingfield
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.
Gritty and raw, I actually did a gasp and put my hand over my mouth at one point - the evil in this book is so frightening that it could be very upsetting. 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.
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