June Bug

2010 Christian Book Award and Christy Award Finalist

June Bug

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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.

Chris Fabry's second story based in the fictional town of Dogwood, West Virginia, reacquaints readers with several characters from his earlier novel, Dogwood, but can also be read and enjoyed as a standalone story. June Bug was chosen as a finalist for the 2010 Christian Book Award in the Fiction category and was also nominated for the 2010 Christy Award in the Contemporary Standalone category. Visit the Christy Award Archives for a list of the 2010 winners and finalists.

In September 2015, a film adaptation of June Bug aired as a Lifetime original movie titled Child of Grace.

Author Notes

I got the story for June Bug while watching an old RV chug into a Walmart parking lot near where we live. All across America, RVs are often found there at the start of the business day. At most locations, store policy allows limited free parking overnight. I had this idea of a little girl stepping out of an RV one morning and walking into the store, only to find a picture of herself on the wall of missing children. That idea propelled me forward. I had to know more about her father in the RV. Was he really her father? What happened to her mother? The story just snowballed in my mind and that it wound up back in Dogwood, West Virginia was not a surprise to me.

June Bug has to find out the truth about her dad, the mother he rarely speaks about, and ultimately herself. In a way, it's a modern interpretation of Les Miserables, though Victor Hugo has nothing to worry about. You will feel echoes of that story, one of my favorites of all time. We follow this dilapidated RV cross-country with June Bug and her father, a man running from a haunted past. Forces beyond their control draw them down a winding path that will change their lives forever.

Interesting thing about the title. I didn't have a name for the girl...I did have her real name, but I didn't have the pet name for the girl until I was at a writing conference put on by the Christian Writers Guild. I was listening to Dave Lambert talk about fiction and how you need to tap into the things in your childhood that connected with you. I was taking notes, really engaged with what was going on, and out of the blue I wrote on my notebook, "June Bug." I drew a little bug and had its wings fluttering. It was one of those happy memories I had of childhood, catching a junebug and tying a string to it and letting it fly around.

I kept listening to the presentation and then I nearly shouted when I looked down, because I hadn't connected the "June Bug" with the title of the book I was working on or the girl's name. It was such a purely creative moment. I wish I had those every day.

I'm told the book has been selling in Walmarts in the South. If you have one near you, please let them know how much you appreciate them carrying the book. I'm not doing any signings in Walmarts. But if we sell enough copies, I may just buy an RV and...

"Chris Fabry (Dogwood)—evangelical fiction author of more than 60 titles and coauthor of Left Behind: The Kids series—offers a lovely, moving, present-day account of sacrifice linking to the famed novel Les Misérables. It all begins in a nondescript Wal-Mart parking lot where nine-year-old June Bug sees an artist's rendition of herself on a missing child poster in the store where they've parked their broken-down RV trailer. With questions galore, June Bug starts pestering her “dad” about their RV vagabond life and where they're headed next. Johnson, little June Bug's father, is obliged to face his past in short order as a series of unexpected media events force his hand and reroute his life. Afraid and emotionally battered, Johnson returns to the “scene of the crime” and discovers what he thought was lost forever. Fabry's retelling of the world-renowned Victor Hugo tale is a stunning success, and readers will find themselves responding with enthusiastic inner applause."
Publishers Weekly

"Anne Lamott said that 'good writing is about telling the truth.' Chris Fabry has done this. Beautifully. June Bugis masterful. An honest story that dove deep inside me and lingered long after I turned the last page."
— Charles Martin, Christy Award-Winning Author of Where the River Ends

"From the moment I read the first chapter, I couldn't put this book down. A story carved out of real life dynamics, June Bug captures the heart. I highly recommend it."
— Gary Chapman, Ph.D., Author of The Five Love Languages and Love As a Way of Life

"In June Bug, Chris Fabry weaves his talent as a storyteller and his heart for the suffering people of this world into a well-told tale of sacrifice and healing, sorrow and hope, and what happens when we remain faithful to those we love. Well-written and bursting with life."
— Lisa Samson, Christy award-winning author of Quaker Summer and The Passion of Mary-Margaret

"June Bugis a heartwarming tale and a precious reminder that God moves in mysterious ways to create families. June Bug is a heroine you're not likely to forget."
— Angela Hunt, Christy Award-Winning Author of The Note 2: Taking a Chance on Love

"An emotionally riveting novel that readers will not soon forget, June Bug is an endearing story to cherish. Chris Fabry stole the hearts of readers with Dogwood and now his fans will be thrilled to know that June Bug does not disappoint. A fascinating read to the very last sentence, I could not put June Bug down."
— Tina Ann Forkner, Author of Ruby Among Us and Rose House

"While traveling by RV across the country with her dad, a young girl wanders into a Walmart and sees herself in a missing-persons poster. So begins a series of long journeys–physical, emotional, and spiritual—for both father and daughter as both try to sort out the puzzle of their past and build a future. Readers of Fabry’s well-received novel Dogwood (2008) will recognize many of the same themes here: the search for home and family; forgiveness and faith; and the best way to navigate the repercussions of old choices and wrong turns. The publisher bills the novel as a 'modern interpretation of Les Miserables,' and readers who know that novel will enjoy spotting the parallels in this contemporary story. Familiarity with the Hugo classic, though, certainly isn’t required to enjoy this involving novel, and once again, Fabry inserts enough plot twists and dramatic tension to keep readers turning the pages. Some clichéd prose may distract some, but the story of love’s infinite power to shape and sustain will draw readers, particularly those seeking fiction with Christian themes."
— Gillian Engberg for Booklist

"Chris Fabry brings a wonderful modern day West Virginia spin to Victor Hugo’s Les Miserables. The story line is driven by a solid cast, but anchored by precocious June Bug with her need to know who she is. Mr. Fabry provides a delightful family drama that Mr. Hugo and Mr. Gibran would enjoy as much as readers will."
— Harriet Klausner for BookReview.com

"It has been said that there are only seven different stories in existence - the books you enjoy are all just variations on these seven different themes. I don’t know whether this is true, but I do know that it’s not uncommon for an author to copy old stories intentionally. Sometimes this is done well, and sometimes… not so well. It seems to me that the best 'copies' of this sort are those that are both good in their own right, and good in that they enhance an original work rather than try to re-create it. Sometimes new books are wonderful on their own, but sometimes they are most valuable when they help you read old books well. I just read a book that copied an old story loosely, and copied it pretty well. June Bug is Chris Fabry’s newest book, due out in August 2009. June Bug is Fabry’s modern interpretation of the classic Les Miserables. It’s a somewhat loose interpretation, but Les Miserables fans will quickly recognize some key themes and plot points.

"It’s a pretty good story even apart from its ties to Victor Hugo’s classic book, but I particularly enjoyed the way it illumined the original work for me. It distanced itself from Hugo’s book enough that it did not feel like a copy of a better book, but it also offered me a window into some of the original players. June Bug is not a Great Book in the way that Les Miserables (arguably!) is, but it does make for good weekend reading. I enjoyed reading June Bug, and now I can’t wait to re-read Les Miserables. I think I’ll appreciate it even more for having read Chris Fabry’s book. I think Hugo would approve of this… and I bet Fabry would, too."
— Rachel Motte for EvangelicalOutpost.com

"There is so much in this story to love, from the characters to the plot to the themes. June Bug is a well written story that kept me reading well into the night. A few chapters in, I realized the plot was not what made this book special, it was the characters. I love character driven stories and this one is excellent. While the characters are phenomenal, the plot is equally strong."
— Inside-Corner.com

"June Bug is the kind of book you can’t put down. Fabry pushes the story forward with both elegant descriptions and June’s childish jabber. His tale is intriguing, wonderful and delicious to read. I enjoyed that the storyline was unusual and imaginative, not all formulaic as it could have been. Be prepared to be wrapped up in June’s life as soon as you pick up the paperback. If I could give this one a higher rating, I would!"
— Jessica Weaver for BookLoons.com

"While June Bug sounds like a thriller, it really isn't. It does have mystery, a splash of suspense, and a few curves in the road, but mostly, it's a gentle tale about a girl and her dad. Themes of imperfection, salvation, sacrifice and devotion weave throughout the story. The mystery keeps things moving along, although at a canter more than a gallop. In fact, the story can be compared to an RV trip - meandering; smooth in some places, bumpy in others; more about the ride than the destination."
"Chris Fabry’s exceptional artistry as an author is once again demonstrated in the poignantly written tale of ‘June Bug’. It is a truly worthy companion to Chris’s debut adult novel ‘Dogwood’.

"The story ‘June Bug’ is told predominantly through the eyes of a nine year old girl, who begins to really examine her life and the secrets she never knew existed. Chris gives this little girl a voice that illuminates the depths of a child’s heart and thoughts. It is with a great deal of skill that Chris balances quite mature thoughts with the reality that there is much a nine year old cannot know. I found June Bug to be a girl I’d love to know in real life. A girl full of spunk, endearingly precocious and fiercely loyal, June Bug’s character works her way into your heart before you know it.

"‘June Bug’ is the very definition of bittersweet. As the final chapters reveal all the details of the truth Johnson kept hidden, my heart broke and tears flowed. It is through these final revelations that Chris deftly ties together the threads that challenge one’s thoughts on justice and mercy, of doing the right thing and of honesty and integrity.

"Chris Fabry’s exceptional style and his mastery of the written word will solidify his already well-earned place on bookshelves across the globe."
— Tracy for Relz Reviewz

"June Bug left the fingerprint of God’s love on my heart and in my mind. I haven’t read anything so riveting and unforgettable since Redeeming Love by Francine Rivers.

"Chris Fabry has penned a remarkable love story; one that’s filled with sacrifice, hope and forgiveness! Chris takes his time in developing his rich, endearing, three-dimensional characters that seem to jump off the pages and into your heart!

"You won’t be able to resist June Bug’s charm, honesty and wonder. You’ll be spellbound by her fun-loving, inquisitive nature. She’s a girl that tells it like she sees it. She’s giving, friendly, and fun to listen to. She says, 'They say there is a peace that passes all understanding, and that it’s available to anybody who wants it. I believe in Jesus and I know he lives in my heart… Sometimes having Jesus in your heart makes you feel good all over, like you know there’s somebody who loves you no matter what..'

"June Bug discovers the unimaginable in Wal-Mart one day, 'When I went back out and looked again, there was no doubt in my mind. That was me up there behind the glass. And I couldn’t figure out a good way to ask Daddy why he had lied to me or why he called me June Bug instead of Natalie Edwards.'

"Chris has an authenticity in his writing style that brings June Bug's childlike innocence to life. Her tale is so dynamic, yet simple; it’s like you’re right there experiencing the love, joy, mystery and disappointments right along with her.

"You’ll delight in what Chris has created with his vivid array of characters in this powerfully-moving journey of a little girl who discovers her haunting past. June Bug has learned to smell the flowers along this amazing journey with a father that has given up everything to show a great love to her in the middle of what could have been a horrific situation. Don’t rush through this story but savor every page. You’ll want to buy two copies of this book, one to put in your library and one to share with your friends, because you’ll definitely be telling everyone about this fascinating story you stayed up late reading."
— Nora St. Laurent, Finding Hope Through Fiction

"As I write this review, tears wet my cheeks and my chest trembles from crying. Chris Fabry’s June Bug has touched me deeply, and I will do my best to tell you why.

"First I will tell you that June Bug’s reality isn’t so fictional. I learned that last year when I watched six children under the age of eight provide the only comfort and security for one another they’d ever known in their short lives. When an eight-year-old boy is the only person in an eleven-month-old’s life that can bring comfort enough to fall asleep at night, you know beyond a doubt that evil exists in the world. You also realize that giving birth to a child doesn’t touch the heart of some people, and thus some children are born orphans.

"June Bug’s life was headed down an evil path and headed toward certain death as certainly as John Johnson’s life hovered on the brink of that same evil abyss. Their lives became forever intertwined, and the seven years they spent together was the purest, sweetest picture of God’s mercy and grace you’ll ever read on paper. I wish all children were loved as deeply and as well as June Bug. The reader picks up June Bug’s story at a tumultuous point in her relationship with John, and the changes that begin to take place take the reader on a journey to the very definition of unconditional love.

"On the flip side of John and June Bug’s precious and precarious relationship, there is May, Dana and Leason Edwards. Their story is also hauntingly familiar to me after two years of volunteer work in a residential rehab facility. Again, I shudder to admit that their story reads more as reality to me than fiction, and my heart aches for them. Mae’s tenacious yet fierce hold on God’s hand despite the cruelty of her only child…the unwavering, heart-crushing hope of seeing her only grandchild again…oh, how I longed to comfort her! Yet she was fiercely believing the promise of God’s word – to bring glory out of our sinful choices…to redeem our dark souls – that I eagerly cheered her stalwart faith. I’ve had to walk through some of those desert places in my own life, and so early in the story I grabbed hold of her hope and refused to let go!

"I can’t wax eloquent on the story and its relationship to Les Miserables – and that embarrasses the English major in me just a little. However, I can tell you most certainly that June Bug will speak to your heart deeply. You will hug those you love a little tighter and thank God for loving you enough to get you through this often painful path of life and bring you to a place where you can trust Him enough to let go.

"Still wiping tears…don’t miss this one! June Bug…Chris Fabry….amazing!"
"This book literally left me speechless after I turned the final page. Tears were streaming down my face, which is a rarity for me with any novel. This book had such a tenderness to it, particularly with the love that a father has for a daughter. That struck a chord with me since I am so close to my father, and as a girl, looked up to him for everything. But it also dealt with the harsh realities of life, and how, despite the best-made plans, things just don't always turn out the way people want them to.

"I loved the connections to Les Miserables. Knowing that there were similarities in the storylines, I was a little bit impatient for things to play out like I knew they did in Les Mis. Instead, the author just gave a little morsel every now and then, and before too long, I realized that he was retelling only part of the story of Les Mis, and sometimes, not sharing details as they happened, but rather in retrospect. This may make the story sound unappealing, but trust me, when those connections with Les Mis occurred, it was oh-so-powerful.

"Trust me on this one thing....if you're looking for a book that is lyrical in its storytelling, and one that will resonate with you long after you've finished it, then you can't go wrong with reading June Bug. I am soooo eager now to go back and read Chris' first book, Dogwood. If it's anything like June Bug, then I doubt I'll be disappointed at all. June Bug has earned a spot on my favorite books list, for sure."

Download the first chapter of June Bug here:

PDF Excerpt from Tyndale House Publishers

Discussion Guide

Download the Discussion Guide for June Bug here:

PDF Discussion Guide from Tyndale House Publishers


Child of Grace Movie PosterIn September 2015, a film adaptation of June Bug aired as a Lifetime original movie titled Child of Grace.

Nine-year-old Katie Johnson (Maggie Elizabeth Jones) has spent most of her life traveling across America in an RV with her father (Tom Hildreth). One day she sees a portrait of herself on a missing child poster and realizes that the man she believes to be her loving father may actually be her kidnapper . . .

As Katie contends with this discovery, Chief Hadley Edwards (Ted Levine), a small-town police chief from Millinocket, Maine, tries to figure out the truth behind his granddaughter's disappearance when new evidence arises.

Directed by award-winning director Ian McCrudden, the film stars Maggie Elizabeth Jones (We Bought A Zoo), Ted Levine (The Bridge), Emma Myles (Orange Is The New Black), and James Parks (Tarantino's The Hateful Eight).

What Readers Are Saying . . .

  • "A powerful story of faith and the material things people hold dear. . . . This is Fabry's best yet."

    PUBLISHERS WEEKLY on A Piece of the Moon

  • "This absorbing novel should further boost Fabry's reputation as one of the most talented authors in Christian fiction."

    CBA RETAILERS + RESOURCES on Not in the Heart

  • "There is so much to love about The Song . . . Heart-wrenching and emotional scenes abound in this tale of fame, fortune, loss, and redemption."

    ROMANTIC TIMES, 4½-Star Top Pick Review

  • "A fresh voice in Christian fiction . . . [Fabry] brings his trademark rich character development to this story, which delves into weighty issues like judgment, contentment, giftedness, and society's outcasts."


  • "Fabry has written a nail-biter with plenty of twists and turns to keep readers riveted."

    LIBRARY JOURNAL on Not in the Heart

  • "In this suspense-filled drama, Fabry covers hot topics involving illegal immigration policies, drug running between borders, and the cost of being involved with the mob. . . . Readers will be immersed in the lives of Maria and J. D."

    ROMANTIC TIMES, 4-Star Review of Borders of the Heart

  • "A mesmerizing tale . . . [Almost Heaven] will surprise readers in the best possible way; plot twists unfold and unexpected character transformations occur throughout this tender story."


  • "Solidly literary fiction with deep, flawed characters and beautiful prose, Dogwood also contains a mystery within the story that adds tension and a deepening plot."


  • "Fabry's [The Promise of Jesse Woods] could have been too heavy due to the subject matter and the tumultuousness of the time period, but his superior writing skills make it more of a nostalgic, sweet tale. . . . This is a fast-paced read with many endearing characters."

    ROMANTIC TIMES, 4-Star Review

  • ""Writing in his trademark lyrical style, Fabry spins a poignant tale about our society's invisible seniors and the woman and man who see their potential."

    BOOKLIST on Every Waking Moment

  • "Every Waking Moment has depth and beauty. I really don't think I could say enough good things about this novel. It's thrilling. It's poignant. It's touching. It's deep. It's beautiful. And it should be read."