Unabridged Chick

I'm Audra, a 30-something married lesbian. I love interesting heroines, gorgeous prose, place as character, and the occasional werewolf.
The Homecoming of Samuel Lake - Jenny Wingfield I've been having a great reading summer; book after book just steals my breath away. From the first line of this novel, I had a strong sense of what to expect -- small town drama, a quirky family, a girl growing into a young adult -- and I found all of that in Wingfield's solid debut.The plot is simple enough: an ugly town secret becomes too much to ignore, and the Moses family -- unwilling to lie -- won't pretend they don't know. Like a storm coming across the prairie, you can see the ugly a mile away, and it's the knowing that Something Terrible Could Happen which makes this novel deliciously tense and stressful.There's a large cast to follow -- the entire Moses family, neighbors, other townies -- but Wingfield makes it easy enough to keep track of who is doing what. What I'm undecided about is who the novel was about. At first, I thought this was a story about Swan Lake, the 9 year old daughter of Rev. Samuel Lake but I found her to be a catalyst for much of the action, rather than the focus of it; so then I thought, perhaps, it was Samuel Lake, the titular character. A Methodist preacher so oriented toward social justice and equality, he's fired from his church and not offered a new one. But he, too, sort of floats in the background, reactive and pensive in equal part. Maybe it's a novel about Calla Moses, matriarch to the Moses family, witness to violence and love in extremes; or her son, Toy, a war vet struggling with loving too much and not getting loved enough. In the end, that's perhaps my only complaint: despite the size of the novel, we don't get to really 'know' anyone in the Moses family. There are flashes of insight as the POV moves from one character to another, and it's enough to move the story, but I fell in love with almost all the characters, and I wouldn't have minded a little more. The story tackles some heavy topics and going deeper would have made this novel especially powerful, I think. Still, a great debut and a wonderful novel for anyone who enjoys Southern fic, family stories, or examinations of small town life.