Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Goodnight June by Sarah Jio

4 Star

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.

Kaley- 4 Star

Confession: Goodnight June was the first book by Sarah Jio I've ever read. I know! I've heard of her and her novels, and even follow her on social media. But I just hadn't gotten around to reading any of her books. What a silly move! I really adored her latest novel.

Do you love the movie You've Got Mail? I think you'll love this book. They're not actually all that similar in terms of the story but the feeling is the same. Jio's June inherits a children's bookstore not unlike the one run by Meg Ryan's character, Kathleen. There's a certain type of magic you feel when you read a book (or watch a movie)  about a children's bookstore. Obviously we (meaning me and you lovely Novel Escapes fans) are readers. We understand why it's important to make sure new generations are reading, just as June eventually realized (or, more accurately, remembered). Even if you're not a fan of Nora Ephron's movie, you should read this one.

I loved how Jio imagined the origin of Goodnight Moon. Not only was it interesting but it was told through letters between Margaret Wise Brown and June's Aunt Ruby. I think reading letters made this part of the story more…poignant, I think. It was really easy to imagine the "what if" that Jio has written for us and I loved that. It would have been easy for the letters to take away from the rest of the narrative but I think they really complemented the story. There weren't too many and I loved the treasure hunt aspect that went along with the letters.  

Those letters also serve another purpose. I feel like they really give the sense that Ruby is an active participant in this novel even though she is dead. We're learning about her and her past just as June is. We also really get to see how much Ruby adored her store, Bluebird Books.

Goodnight June is a book for booklovers. Sarah Jio has written a touching, intriguing, and lovely novel that should not be missed. 

Thank you to Penguin Group for our review copy. All opinions are our own.

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