There aren’t many young female characters in literature who can compare with Scout Finch, the precocious, determined and headstrong heroine of Harper Lee’s “To Kill A Mockingbird”. I would never be one to presume that an author could ever create a persona that would come close to that of the unforgettable Scout. That being said, Jenny Wingfield has given us a “runner up” in the “Reminds me of Scout Finch” category in the character of Swan Lake, the brave, bossy and imaginative young heroine in her first novel, “The Homecoming of Samuel Lake”.
Samuel Lake, a preacher, and his wife, Willadee Moses, bring their three children home to Willadee’s family farm in Arkansas for their annual family reunion. When tragedy strikes, the Lake family stays permanently on the farm, and thus commences an unforgettable summer filled with unforgettable characters.
Ms. Wingfield has created some remarkable characters: Swan Lake, a young girl coming of age who has wisdom and spunk far beyond her eleven years, and her two brothers, Noble and Bienville. Toy Moses, the children’s uncle, a damaged veteran who finally finds love and respect in the eyes of his niece and nephews. Blade Ballenger, an abused runaway, who finds longed for security at the Moses farm. Willadee Moses Lake, mother of the children, and her husband, Samuel Lake, who wants nothing more than to spread the word of the Lord. Then there is Ras Ballenger, the father of Blade, and perhaps one of the most evil characters ever to be written of. Wife abuser, child abuser, animal abuser, Ras was the one character that made me keep saying to myself “This is only a book”, to keep me from getting too upset over his actions.
“The Homecoming of Samuel Lake” will make you smile, will make you laugh, and it will make you cry. You will fall in love with some of the characters, and hate some of the others. There will be times that you won’t be able to put this book down, and there will be other times when you will have difficulty reading it. I loved this book, but I would warn readers that there are some disturbing scenes of abuse. In the end, though, it is a fabulous story from a talented author.