Reviewed by C.J. Darlington
June Bug by Chris Fabry
"...precise details of places and experiences immediately set you in the story, and the complex, likable characters give June Bug the enduring quality of a classic."
I write this review sitting in an RV at a Walmart parking lot. In the exact position the characters of Chris Fabry’s June Bug find themselves at the book’s opening. To RVers, it’s not an unusual scenario to be sitting here. Rather than pay campground fees or sleep overnight at a seedy truck stop, often we’ll stay in Walmart parking lots during our travels. We’ll be on the road again by morning, so scenery doesn’t matter, and a quick stop inside will replenish our supplies.
I look out my RV’s window and can picture little nine-year-old June Bug hopping out of hers, like she does almost every morning. She’s skipping into the store, oblivious to what she’s about to discover about herself and the man she calls Daddy. “You can’t know the feeling of seeing your picture on a wall inside a store unless it has happened to you, and I have to believe I am in a small group of people on the planet.” June Bug stares at the “Picture Them Home” poster, and her life is never the same. The poster says she was taken seven years ago from Dogwood, WV by an unknown abductor. Could the age progressed photo truly be her? Is the only dad she’s ever known really her father?
Blending a made-for-tv movie scenario with well-developed characters, Fabry has woven a fictional tapestry that pulls you in from chapter one. As the story unfolds, each revelation draws you deeper into the fabric of the tale. Fabry holds out past events like carrots, breaking off pieces and tossing them in our direction just often enough to give us a taste, but never enough that the reader doesn’t strain for the whole piece. What really happened seven years about when June Bug went missing? The suspense builds with each chapter. Some plot points you’ll guess, but knowing a few things doesn’t diminish the enjoyment.
You might scratch your head at the logic behind a twist or a turn here and there, but most are believable. And even though June Bug is billed as a modern-day interpretation of Les Miserables, it’s a loose definition. The only real similarity I can see is that they both tell the story of a man on the run with a young child in his care. But this isn’t a negative. It allows for many interesting twists and turns you might not expect, which is always a joy for a reader.
On the heels of his Christy award win for his first adult novel, Dogwood,
Chris Fabry has another worthy contender for next year in June Bug. His
precise details of places and experiences immediately set you in the story,
and the complex, likable characters give June Bug the enduring quality
of a classic
C.J. Darlington is the award-winning authof of Thicker than Blood, Bound by Guilt, and Ties that Bind. She is a regular contributor to Family Fiction Digital Magazine and NovelCrossing.com. A homeschool graduate, she makes her home in Pennsylvania with her family and their menagerie of dogs, a cat, and a paint horse named Sky. Visit her online at her author website. You can also look her up at Twitter and Facebook.