It seems I’ve skidded through a patch of great books lately. I just finished the advanced reader copy of The Homecoming of Samuel Lake and it gets an enthusiastic 5 stars. This is a true work of literature richly grounded in the art of creative writing. You won’t find any trendy topics or flashy ready-made marketing plots here. This is good old-fashioned southern storytelling at its absolute finest. Author Jenny Wingfield has imagined a set of literary characters that includes a remarkably memorable bad guy, Ras Ballenger. Even though the title refers to the character Samuel Lake, his story cannot be told without exposing several events, namely those experienced by other and equally important characters. What makes this tale so special is the quality of perspective without flashbacks or shifts. Wingfield’s skill in play-writing is apparent because the transition from scene and person is so timely implemented that the reader hardly notices just how much they are getting for so little effort. All that is required is simply to read. The story unfolds its layers so gracefully that one hardly understands the gifts presented. A reader does not get simply one story, but several, all of which are equal in weight and relativity. I cannot help but feel smarter for reading this book and it certainly left a lasting impression. The story does contain elements of animal, child and spousal abuse. If I had to draw a comparison, I would say the context is on course with Water For Elephants by Sarah Gruen. It will bring tears to your eyes, but is not graphically explicit (per say), just saddening at moments. However, it is essential to the plot, motives and also the soul of the book. A great piece of American literature is born and will be released in July 2011.