(From Goodreads)Every first Sunday in June, members of the Moses clan gather for an annual reunion at “the old home place,” a sprawling hundred-acre farm in Arkansas. And every year, Samuel Lake, a vibrant and committed young preacher, brings his beloved wife, Willadee Moses, and their three children back for the festivities. The children embrace the reunion as a welcome escape from the prying eyes of their father’s congregation; for Willadee it’s a precious opportunity to spend time with her mother and father, Calla and John. But just as the reunion is getting under way, tragedy strikes, jolting the family to their core: John’s untimely death and, soon after, the loss of Samuel’s parish, which set the stage for a summer of crisis and profound change.

In the midst of it all, Samuel and Willadee’s outspoken eleven-year-old daughter, Swan, is a bright light. Her high spirits and fearlessness have alternately seduced and bedeviled three generations of the family. But it is Blade Ballenger, a traumatized eight-year-old neighbor, who soon captures Swan’s undivided attention. Full of righteous anger, and innocent of the peril facing her and those she loves, Swan makes it her mission to keep the boy safe from his terrifying father.

With characters who spring to life as vividly as if they were members of one’s own family, and with the clear-eyed wisdom that illuminates the most tragic—and triumphant—aspects of human nature, Jenny Wingfield emerges as one of the most vital, engaging storytellers writing today. In The Homecoming of Samuel Lake she has created a memorable and lasting work of fiction.

I’ve had this book sitting on my bookshelf for some time and then last month my sister suggested it as our January book club selection. I’m disappointed I wasn’t the one to suggest it because I absolutely loved this book. There’s a little bit of everything in this book-What it means to be a family, what it means to have faith, how do you survive the unsurvivable?

There was not one character in this book that didn’t ring true to me. Even the awful Raz, who is perhaps one of the most evil characters I’ve read in a long time, was pitch perfect. I hated him and truly believed he could exist. Each member of the Moses family and extended family was a real, flesh and blood person. I want to know these people and for me, that makes a great book

Wingfield created such a wonderful portrait of a family that supports each other. A husband and wife with a commitment strong enough to withstand all that comes along. It so nice to see a healthy married couple in a book. It’s not that it is without conflict, it’s just that they handle it and have enough faith in one and other to get through it. There’s a small part I absolutely loved. Willadee does something that hurts Samuel (something I think many spouses have done) and the way Wingfield has her apologize is just so real and right it’s actually a great instruction to all of us on how to say “I’m sorry” to someone you love.

But, that’s just a small part of this story. So much, happens and it’s hard to say anything without giving too much away. I will say this though, there’s a roller coaster of emotions that I went through while reading this and at a couple points I was so angry about some things that happened, asking why the author had to do them. But in the end it all made sense and I was left so happy I had read this book. And this was her first novel. She did write the screenplay for the movie The Man in the Moon starring a very young Reese Witherspoon. I remember really liking this movie and it had a lot of the same themes of family.

I look forward to whatever come from Jenny Wingfield whether it’s movies or books, I’m really hoping for more books.

Thanks to BookBrowse First Impression program for my copy of The Homecoming of Samuel Lake.