In her latest novel, Lourey takes us back to the 1980s, a time when latchkey kids were as common as Pop Rocks, and children would ride their bikes unsupervised through town and country until sundown. Lilydale, Minnesota, middle-schooler Cassie McDowell is an aspiring writer obsessed with “strange but true” fact books that distract her from the creepy and predatory men who hang with her father in the basement of their isolated farmhouse. School is her sanctuary, or at least it was until her male classmates started disappearing and coming back changed. While the adults carry on like everything is normal, Cassie is intent on finding the truth, no matter what the consequence.
Unspeakable Things builds its plot on true events. Lourey’s hometown of Paynesville, Minnesota (on which Lilydale is based), made national news in 1989 when eleven-year-old Jacob Wetterling went missing—the mystery unsolved for nearly twenty-seven years. His disappearance led Minnesota to create the first state sexual predator registry, paving the way for the national sex offender registry. These events were the subject of the 2016 American Public Media–produced podcast In the Dark.
A child of the eighties, Lourey blends her adult understanding of a dangerous time with a childlike wonder, capturing the magic of the era but also creating something much darker that is sure to keep you on the edge of your seat.
- Jessica Tribble Wells, Editor