Jess Lourey populates June Bug with sharply etched characters so vivid you'd recognize them on the street. Her protagonist Mira James is a gem of a heroine: she's a magnet for stray flying objects, she's addicted to Nut Goodies, and her wry observations on life abound with atypical honesty. When Mira learns there's a big diamond at the bottom of a local lake--and a fake diamond offered as a contest prize--she straps on diving gear and gamely goes forth to explore. But the clear lake water hides murky intents. She tangles with an unusual underwater hazard--and nearly loses her life. It's no surprise that Mira's not the only person interested in the loot. Larceny and licentiousness abound, and Mira's put herself squarely in harm's way.
Lourey's Mira is a clever girl, down on her luck, but plucky and resourceful. She goes through life fully engaged. Her observations both tickle and resonate. For example, "Actually I always wondered who had the energy to write on bathroom walls. Now I knew. It was people on bad dates." Say "Amen," Sister.
The Minnesota Department of Tourism either has a bounty on Lourey's head or added her to their payroll. She writes, "Minnesota is an incredible place to live, but we natives learn at a very young age that for this privilege we must pay a tithe, usually in blood...A summer day spent in the shallow, still part of the lake results in a chocolate-chip-shaped leech nesting between our peas-in-a-pod toes." Yuck! Lourey's clever pen captures such local gastronomic specialties as field-drinking, five-meat hotdishes, Tiger Pops, tuna surprise, Hamm's sky-blue waters, and barbecued spiced bananas. Mira moans that even the desserts feature cream of mushroom soup. Clearly, this book shouldn't be shelved with a Zagat's Guide.
But June Bug does deserve a spot on your "to be read" pile. Lourey delights and dazzles, making us eager to see what's on tap for July.