February 20, 2015

GOODNIGHT JUNE by Sarah Jio



Description:   The New York Times bestselling author of Blackberry Winter imagines the inspiration for Goodnight Moon.

Goodnight Moon by Margaret Wise Brown (Goodnight Songs) 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.




My Thoughts on Goodnight June by Sarah Jio

Where to begin?  First, I loved The Violets of March, my first Sarah Jio book and I looked forward to Goodnight June based on that fact alone.  Second, having the book take place primarily in an independently owned bookstore made my heart sing and the rest of me green with envy.  (If you don't already know my fantasy career would be a writer owning a little bookshop.  Sigh.)  But I digress . . .

I loved, loved, loved Goodnight June.  The locale, with me fantasizing about my dream job, was enough to make this a splendid read for me but Ms. Jio did a fantastic rendering of how Goodnight Moon may have come to be conceived.  Yes, this is a work of fiction but at times it was easy to think "this really could have happened."

I liked the character of June and I appreciated how she was presented to the readers and how the bookstore was introduced into the narrative.  As a hardworking New Yorker, she had no intent or interest in staying more than a few days in Seattle and quickly handling her great-aunt's estate . . . until the Wise Brown mystery surfaced.

Rather than telling the story in flashbacks, Ms. Jio spins it through the letters between Ruby and Margaret Wise-Brown and these letters make for fascinating reading.  I could so easily envision both characters in my mind, as well as other supporting characters mentioned, and the wonderful little Bluebird Books.  Can I please have a Bluebird Books with cozy little loft apartment upstairs?  Please? 

We do get June's backstory told with flashbacks but they are fairly short and to the point.  Her mother and sister are supporting characters but the majority of the book deals with the letters and with June's present day situation of how to handle the estate, what to do with the bookstore and if she should share the story of Goodnight Moon.

The plot is fairly standard - - can June save Bluebird Books?  What about that handsome chef/restaurant owner next door?  Will June deal with her own inner demons and realize that returning home might be the best tonic?   Even with a standard plot, Goodnight June excels and surpasses my expectations (which were high, given my love for The Violets of March) and Sarah Jio soundly delivers.

With a few cameos by famous Seattle residents, Goodnight June is sure to satisfy.

Goodnight June is a must-read for any book lover.  If you're partial to Margaret Wise Brown and her library of children's books, including Goodnight Moon, it's a perfect fit.  Goodnight June will leave you feeling warm and fuzzy inside and wishing for a Bluebird Books of your own.

Highly, highly recommended.

Goodnight June is available at major booksellers and retailers.

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FTC Disclosure: I received this book from NetGalley in exchange for a fair and honest review.  The provision of this book did not affect the outcome of my review.  I was neither paid nor compensated (ha ha) for this review.

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