Book Review: GOODNIGHT JUNE by Sarah Jio

Publisher: Plume
Release Date: May 27, 2014
Source: Review copy from the publisher
Rating: ★★★★½

The New York Times bestselling author of Blackberry Winter imagines the inspiration for Goodnight Moon…

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.

As a lifelong book lover, GOODNIGHT JUNE really resonated with me. What if the inspiration for the children’s classic GOODNIGHT MOON could be traced to a shabby old bookshop on the verge of closing? Does it matter that the store made a huge impact on the lives of many Seattle children over the past 60 years? Is it worth saving, or have books lost the battle with the internet and online games?

Sarah Jio became a new favorite author of mine after her book BLACKBERRY WINTER blew me away. In GOODNIGHT JUNE, Jio has her trademark dual time periods to tell the story, this time with letters from the 1940s between the bookstore’s owner, Ruby, and Margaret Wise Brown, the author of GOODNIGHT MOON. When Ruby passes, her niece June, a successful banker in New York City, inherits the store. June’s first thought is to sell the property, but reading the letters makes her pause and question what’s truly important in life.

I was intrigued by the premise of this book, and I loved Jio’s fictional account of the inspiration behind Margaret Wise Brown’s most famous story. I also enjoyed watching June’s character grow as her love of Ruby’s bookstore was rekindled. I think some of what happened came together too quickly and neatly, but that really didn’t detract from my enjoyment. I loved the compelling cast of characters and the alluring Seattle setting. I especially enjoyed getting to know more about Margaret Wise Brown and the challenges she faced as a children’s author in the 1940s.

GOODNIGHT JUNE is a poignant story about love, loss, forgiveness, and family. It also speaks to us about the importance of instilling a love of reading in our children, because books expand their minds and open their hearts. What could be more valuable than that?

Disclosure: I received a copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.