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.
I first heard of this book from Nadia at The Bookish Way of Life. It wasn’t even on my radar because lately, I’ve kind of fallen out of reading books in this genre. But the reference to the popular children’s book Goodnight Moon had me immediately curious. Goodnight Moon is very near and dear to my heart, as my daughter and I read it together every single night before she goes to bed. It has been our ritual for over a year now, and we’ve gotten to the point where we recite it by heart and take turns alternating reading the pages. Because this book is special to me and my daughter, I was intrigued by the fact that it was incorporated into Sarah Jio’s new novel and I couldn’t wait to read it.
June is a successful banker living in New York, but on the inside she’s a very miserable woman. She gets the news about her Aunt Ruby’s passing and that Ruby has left her beloved old children’s bookstore to her. June takes a leave from work to go back to Seattle, thinking she’ll sell the bookstore and tie up loose ends before returning to her life in New York. She wasn’t prepared for what she would find while she was cleaning out her aunts paperwork – letters between her aunt and the author of the popular book, Goodnight Moon. Turns out her aunt and Margaret Wise Brown were close friends and confidants. Their correspondence and friendship quite possibly had a hand in the creation of that famous children’s book and the bookstore may hold more secrets than June ever imagined.
Over the years, June has used her heartache as an excuse to keep her from coming home to visit her beloved aunt or her mom and sister. She grew up in Bluebird Books and has so many fond memories of spending time there with her aunt and sister. Now she is faced with the guilt and regret from staying away as long as she did. As she continues to find these letters and discover more secrets about her aunt’s life, she starts to consider her own life and whether she’s truly happy. Ultimately she has to decide the fate of Bluebird Books and if she is meant to continue her aunt’s legacy or close its doors.
This book is a wonderful story of forgiveness and fighting hard for what you want. There is mystery, suspense, romance, friendships, family bonds – all elements that make a fantastic novel. But it was the discovery of these amazing letters and the unfolding of Ruby’s secrets, along with the setting of the bookstore that captivated me. Sarah Jio wrote a mesmerizing story, woven with just the right amount of suspense and intrigue. I felt such a range of emotions reading this book – it was sweet and romantic, yet heartbreaking and emotional at the same time. When I thought the book was going to be a little predictable (and I was fine with that), the author threw me a curveball and proved me completely wrong. A truly beautiful and heartwarming novel that I enjoyed immensely, and was sad when it ended.
If you’re looking to be swept away into a literary world with suspense and a touch of romance – I highly recommend reading Goodnight June!
ARC kindly provided by Netgalley and publisher in exchange for an honest review.