The Homecoming of Samuel Lake by Jenny Wingfield (for review from publisher via TLC Book Tours)
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.
The Car Thief by Theodore Weesner (for review from publisher Astor + Blue via Shelf Awareness)
Described as “one of the best coming of age novels of the Twentieth Century,” Theodore Weesner’s modern American classic is now re-launched for a new generation of readers to discover.
It’s 1959. Sixteen year-old Alex Housman has just stolen his fourteenth car and frankly doesn’t know why. His divorced, working class father grinds out the night shift at the local Chevy Plant in Detroit, looking forward to the flask in his glove compartment, and the open bottles of booze in his Flint, Michigan home. Abandoned and alone, father and son struggle to express a deep love for each other, even as Alex fills his day juggling cheap thrills and a crushing depression. And then there’s Irene Shaeffer, the pretty girl in school whose admiration Alex needs like a drug in order to get by. Broke and fighting to survive, Alex and his father face the realities of estrangement, incarceration, and even violence as their lives unfold toward the climactic episode that a New York Times reviewer called “one of the most profoundly powerful in American fiction.”
In this rich, beautifully crafted story, Weesner accomplishes a rare feat: He’s written a transcendent piece of literature in deceptively simple language, painting a powerful portrait of a father and a son, otherwise invisible among the mundane, everyday details of life in blue collar America. A true and enduring American classic.
The Coldest Night by Robert Olmstead (win from Amy at Black Sheep Dances)
Award-winning novelist Robert Olmstead mounts a fast-moving tale of a love story—as destructive as it is irresistible—that sets a boy’s course toward an epic and life-changing battle. Henry Childs is just seventeen when he falls into a love affair so intense it nearly consumes him. But when young Mercy’s disapproving father threatens Henry’s life, Henry runs as far as he can–to the other side of the world.
It is 1950, and the Korean War hangs in the balance. Descended from a long line of soldiers, Henry enlists in the marines and arrives in Korea on the eve of the brutal seventeen-day battle of the Chosin Reservoir–the turning point of the war–completely unprepared for the forbidding Korean landscape and the unimaginable circumstances of a war well beyond the scope of anything his ancestors ever faced. But the challenges he meets upon his return home, scarred and haunted, are greater by far.
Robert Olmstead’s riveting new novel is not only a passionate story of love and war, it is a timeless and contemporary story of soldiers coming home to a country with little regard for, and even less knowledge of, what they’ve confronted. Through Henry, Olmstead charts the unspoken truth about combat: that for many men, the experience of war is the most enlivening, electric, and extraordinary experience of their lives.
Amy also included with my win, a box of books, for me to enjoy...it felt like Christmas morning to me! The rest of this book list is thanks to Amy's generosity:
The Starboard Sea by Amber Dermont
Set against the backdrop of the 1987 stock market collapse, The Starboard Sea is an examination of the abuses of class privilege, the mutability of sexual desire, the thrill and risk of competitive sailing and the adult cost of teenage recklessness. It is a powerful and compelling novel about a young man navigating the depths of his emotional life, finding his moral center, trying to forgive himself, and accepting the gift of love
A Wedding in Haiti by Julia Alvarez
Julia Alvarez has been called “a one-woman cultural collision” by the Los Angeles Times Book Review, and that has never been truer than in this story about three of her most personal relationships—with her parents, with her husband, and with a young Haitian boy known as Piti. A teenager when Julia and her husband, Bill, first met him in 2001, Piti crossed the border into the Dominican Republic to find work. Julia, impressed by his courage, charmed by his smile, has over the years come to think of him as a son, even promising to be at his wedding someday. When Piti calls in 2009, Julia’s promise is tested. To Alvarez, much admired for her ability to lead readers deep inside her native Dominican culture, “Haiti is like a sister I’ve never gotten to know.” And so we follow her across the border into what was once the richest of all the French colonies and now teeters on the edge of the abyss—first for the celebration of a wedding and a year later to find Piti’s loved ones in the devastation of the earthquake. As in all of Alvarez’s books, a strong message is packed inside an intimate, beguiling story, this time about the nature of poverty and of wealth, of human love and of human frailty, of history and of the way we live now.
Repeat It Today with Tears by Anne Peile
Susanna is a secretive child, obsessed with the father she has never known and determined that one day she will find him. As an adolescent she becomes increasingly distanced from life at home with her mother and sister. When she finally discovers her father's address and seeks him out, in the free and unconventional atmosphere of 1970s Chelsea, she conceals her identity, beginning an illicit affair that can only end in disaster.
Broken Irish by Edward J. Delaney
As the millennium approaches, Southie” is still a place where little distinguishes mob bosses from pillars of industry, the bullied from the bullies, and the pious from the pitiful. In this tough Boston neighborhood, six lives are about to converge Jimmy, an alcoholic writer, whose life is unalterably changed after witnessing an accident; Jeanmarie, a teenage runaway, whose quest for independence leads down a dark path; Christopher, a young Catholic school dropout with a gnawing secret; Colleen, a war widow whose grief has blinded her to the needs of her son; Father John, a priest on the eve of forced retirement; and Rafferty, a wealthy businessman who hires a ghostwriter to tell his story.
In Broken Irish, Delaney trains his journalist’s ear, his filmmaker’s eye, and his writer’s heart on each of their stories creating a driven and deeply human narrative that pierces the heart of the American experience. He also gives us a captivating portrait of late-1990s South Boston at the crossroads a time when Whitey Bulger has evaporated into the ether but his boys still kick around on the street corners . . . waiting for Whitey’s Second Coming.”
Niagara Digressions by E. R. Baxter III
A seasoned storyteller's work via cut-up method, combining history and naturalist memoir, Niagara Digressions presents land as historical palimpsest, from ancient cave paintings to 1960s mimeographed poetry, the massacre of the buffalo to the manufacture of shredded wheat cereal, and all points in-between. Everybody thinks they know Niagara, but not this Niagara. E. R. Baxter III is a tour guide who knows the indirect path offers the best views