Book 178: Review of GOODNIGHT JUNE

Goodnight June by Sarah Jio
ISBN: 9780142180211 (paperback)
ISBN: 9781101620038 (ebook)
ASIN: B00FX7ULEK (Kindle edition)
Publication date: May 27, 2014
Publisher: Plume (Penguin Group)

Goodnight Moon is an adored childhood classic, but its real origins are lost to history. In Goodnight June, Sarah Jio offers a suspenseful and heartfelt take on how the “great green room” might have come to be.

June Andersen is professionally successful, but her personal life is marred by unhappiness. Unexpectedly, she is called to settle her great-aunt Ruby’s estate and determine the fate of Bluebird Books, the children’s bookstore Ruby founded in the 1940s. Amidst the store’s papers, June stumbles upon letters between her great-aunt and the late Margaret Wise Brown—and steps into the pages of American literature.

Imagine you are a successful thirty-something woman living in New York with a great, but time-consuming, career. You’ve just been informed that your beloved great-aunt has died and left you her bookstore and that bookstore is in Seattle, Washington. While you’re trying to settle your aunt’s affairs, you uncover letters that indicate your aunt corresponded with the beloved children’s book author, Margaret Wise Brown. Not only do you discover their correspondence, but you also find that your aunt provided information that may have been the inspiration for one of the most loved children’s books of all time. What do you do? This is exactly the dilemma that June Anderson faces in Goodnight June.

Sarah Jio has crafted a heartwarming and touching story that imagines a relationship between author Margaret Wise Brown (also known as Brownie) and children’s bookstore owner Ruby Crain. This relationship is revealed in hidden letters scattered throughout Bluebird Books. June grew up in this bookstore and loved it as much as she loved her aunt Ruby, but her life is in New York. She arrives in Seattle with the goal of settling her aunt’s affairs and selling the bookstore. But the longer she stays in Seattle and the more she uncovers about her aunt’s friendship with Brownie, the more confused she becomes about her goals. Can she quit her high-profile job in New York, sell her apartment, and become a successful bookseller? Just when she thinks her decision might be easy, she uncovers another secret . . . her aunt had a child and gave it up for adoption. June now feels compelled to locate this lost child and share her aunt’s legacy.

Goodnight June is much more than a homage to Goodnight Moon. It is a story of self-discovery, family, forgiveness, and second chances. Ruby and Brownie’s letters reveal the hardships both women suffer when dealing with their families and family expectations. Both women have sisters that are more like strangers than family and strive to overcome this estrangement. Ruby has an illicit relationship with a married man that ends with her having a child that she gives away. June is having issues with her sister and mother and sees the parallels between her aunt’s issues and her own, but can she overcome her anger and fears to allow amends to be made? I enjoyed reading about the fictionalized relationship between Ruby and Brownie and it made the author seem more personable. I found all of the characters to be believable primarily because of their flaws. I thought it rather ironic that June spent much of her adult life working in a bank that foreclosed on business after business with little consideration to individual needs or business history, only to find herself in the exact same situation with Bluebird Books and her former employer. The budding romantic relationship between June and her neighboring business owner added the right amount of romance to the story. Goodnight June offers romance, illicit affairs, a missing child, family trouble, financial trouble, and more. If you have read any of Ms. Jio’s books then you’ll definitely want to add Goodnight June to your TBR list. If you haven’t read any of her books, then Goodnight June is the perfect place to start.

Disclaimer: I received a copy of this book free for review purposes from the a variety of sources including LibraryThing’s Early Reviewer Program and Edelweiss. I was not paid, required or otherwise obligated to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

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