Review: Goodnight June

May 30, 2014 1940's, book review, fiction, Plume, Sarah Jio 5

  • Goodnight June
  • Written By:  Sarah Jio
  • Published By:  Plume an imprint of Penguin Books/ May 27, 2014
  • Length:  320 pages
  • Source: e galley via Edelweiss with permission from publisher

Summary:  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.( goodreads)

My Thoughts:  There are books and authors we pick up simply knowing they will bring comfort and a sense of warmth to our day.  Sarah Jio is this kind of author to me.  Her writing style and cadence is gentle.  It has a way of taking you on a journey in place in spirit, and the entire experience is soulful and appreciated.

The main character of June is introduced to us as an over the top, over worked New York financial banker.  She’s part of the kill team that goes in and tells small businesses who are behind in payments that the jig is up.  June is also so stressed her heart is racing and she winds up in the ER.  When she receives a package from a lawyer in Seattle informing her that her great aunt Ruby has died and left her the book store, she is filled with guilt.  June left Seattle after high school and hasn’t really wanted to return even for visits.

Returning to Bluebird Books is like going home for June, her childhood home away from the home her mother gave her and her sister.  The bookstore is her comfort.  The more time she spends there the more she begins to admit how unhappy she’s been, and she considers a new start.

The back story Jio creates about the origins of Goodnight Moon are so heartfelt.  Her Aunt Ruby and Margaret Wise Brown, two single women who are friends and passionate about children’s literature in the mid 1940’s.  They exchange letter after letter, discussing books and their lives.  They each have strained sister relationships and in fact are closer to each other than any sisters they can imagine.  They each struggle with being independent and also wanting that special love in their life.

Friendship, family, forgiveness and a bit of book love are the themes that stand out in Goodnight June.   At times predictable and a bit heavy on name dropping of various literary and local Seattle celebrities, the book still brings out wonderful positive emotions.  If you’re in the mood for a book to just wrap itself around you gently, Goodnight June will do the trick.

What is your favorite children’s book?  Personally I adore Runaway Bunny, also by Margaret Wise Brown. 1942

“If you run away,” said his mother, “I will run after you. For you are my little bunny.”



5 Responses to “Review: Goodnight June”

  1. Cindi

    It’s hard to pick my very favorite children’s book but I especially love OWL MOON by Jane Yolen and The Seven Sill Eaters by Mary Ann Hoberman.

  2. Michelle

    Sarah Jio’s novels and I have a fractious relationship, so I passed this one up. Since Goodnight Moon is my favorite children’s novel outside of anything by Sandra Boynton, I am sort of regretting that decision to do so. I’ve been hearing such great things about it, and the connection to the kid’s story seems to make it that much more special for readers. I’m definitely going to have to get my hands on a copy of it soon!

  3. Katie @ Doing Dewey

    I didn’t love the plot of The Last Camelia, but I did like Jio’s writing style, so I’d like to pick this up too. I’m glad to hear that this was a nice, happy read 🙂

    • Anita

      I didn’t like The Last Camelia either, but this one is much better. Yes it’s still rather predictable, but the behind story of the beginning of Goodnight Moon was wonderful.

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