Goodnight June

May 27, 2014

Goodnight June
By: Sarah Jio
301 Pages

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. --Courtesy of the publisher

I've said it before, and I'll say it again: Sarah Jio cannot write a bad book!! It's genetically impossible! Once again, Sarah has a literary delight for her readers to devour! And make no mistake, devour you will. Yet again, she has spun an ingenious idea that will captivate you from the first page. 

I think it's safe to say that the majority of book lovers have heard of the beloved children's book, Goodnight Moon". In her newest book, Sarah finds a way to bring the author of the classic, and the book's creation, into her vision. And I have to say, the combination is so good you don't want to put it down.

June lives in New York. A doctor has recommended she slow her fast-paced life down when panic attacks enter into the picture. Bound and determined to forge on, June doesn't adhere to the advice until she learns of her beloved Aunt's death. All of a sudden, Jun realizes she's been so busy running from her old life, and carving out a new one, that she left her favorite relative behind. The point is driven further home when she learns her Aunt Ruby leaves her the bookstore she's owned, Bluebird Books. 

The intention is to fly out to Seattle and settle the estate. She has no need for a well-known bookstore in her New York executive life. However, plans may change once she gets there. As she goes through the store, deciding what to keep or toss, she finds strategically placed letters. As she reads them, she comes to see they aren't you average letters. These letters are from her Aunt Ruby and "Brownie", MWB. It isn't long before June learns Brownie and MWB are Margaret Wise Brown- THE Maraget Wise Brown. That's right the author of countless children's classics, including the eternally loved Goodnight Moon, and June's Aunt Ruby were very good friends. The more letters she finds, the more of a look into both womens' lives she gets. The love affairs. The struggles with career and family. All of it play out for June to read.

It also hits home, because June has her own struggles with her sister, Amy.  A feud that has yet to be resolved, remains that way 5 years later. June has no desire to forgive her sister, but the letters slowly chip away the ice. June also sees Margaret's struggles with her writing. Having made a name for herself writing books for children, the author desperately wants to write a taken seriously novel. 

One of the most shocking revelations the letters hold for June is the side of her Aunt they reveal. A love affair she never knew about comes to light- and it's aftermath. This comes in handy as June navigates a romance with the owner of the Italian restaurant next door. 

It isn't long before the letters help shift June's world, and what she values and prioritizes. Aunt Ruby and Margaret's letters help her take stock of her life. They give her the courage to really analyze how happy she is- and isn't. Can she and her sister forgive one another before it's too late? Is her fast paced, automatic life in New York really what she wants? And what happened to the child she learns her Aunt had?

Readers will be glued to the pages, eager to see what will happen on the next page. You won't want to stop reading. Fans of Sarah Jio will embrace Goodnight June with open arms. Fans of Goodnight Moon will love how, decades later, the book still lives on. This book is among my favorites from Sarah Jio. I hope you love every word, too.


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