June Bug believed everything her daddy told her. That is, until she walked into Walmart and saw her face on a list of missing children. The discovery begins a quest for the truth about her father, the mother he rarely speaks about, and ultimately herself. A modern interpretation of Les Miserables, the story follows a dilapidated RV rambling cross-country with June Bug and her father, a man running from a haunted past. Forces beyond their control draw them back to Dogwood, West Virginia, down a winding path that will change their lives forever.
I’ve never read anything by Chris Fabry before (well, unless you count his work in the Kids’ Left Behind Books) and to tell the truth, I wasn’t really planning to- until I found this book and realized that it was a modern-day retelling of Les Misérables.
I love, love, love that book, so even if I was a little nervous about reading a “modern day” version, I was willing to give it a try.
I think in that quarter, the book’s greatest strength is the fact that it is not really a retelling, but a story inspired by the classic. It doesn’t try to make itself exactly like that book, which is a good thing, because of course it could never compare. (and the completely different setting- sleepy West Virginia as opposed to unstable Paris- also helps to make the story stand on its own.) But in its own right, June Bug was in some ways just as heart-tugging as Les Misérables itself. There are several characters and situations that correspond to those in Les Misérables, but not everything does (do not, especially, be on the lookout for a misused and unfortunate Fantine character- you’ll just be disappointed) Also, the book ends much earlier than the original classic- it’s concluded whilst June Bug (our Cosette character) is still a child.
There was something bittersweet about June Bug throughout the entire thing, but never so pronounced as in the ending. June Bug’s “Daddy” (aptly named John Johnson) was one of my favorite characters- as I’ve mentioned before, I have a huge soft spot for Daddy-daughter stories.
I literally had a hard time putting down this book, which is amazing considering how different this novel is from most I read. There were aspects of it that I didn’t care for, but overall, June Bug is a book I’ll be remembering for a while yet.
Objectionable content: There are a couple uses of a word I personally prefer not to use, (though it’s certainly not a swear word) and there is a flashback scene where a man is remembering a terrible tragedy where a plane crashed. There are also a few mentions of various sins of different characters (but nothing graphic there)