Publisher: Penguin group. Plume
Date: May 27th 2014
Format: e ARC
Genre: Contemporary fiction
Source: Publisher via NetGalley
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 love books and any book lover will I believe be swept away by this nostalgic look back at an era that has passed, yet still holds meaning for many. That era when a children's bookstore opened up the magic door to reading for so many child readers. Of course today with internet trading and only the bigger book stores remaining in business, it is not very likely you'll come across the children's bookstore of yesteryear.
Bluebird bookstore in Seattle was such a shop, run by June's aunt, Ruby. For many years it has warmed the hearts of children, but now it has become neglected. June returns to Seattle from New York to wrap up the estate she has been left. She works for a bank in New York and is an expert in going in and taking over and wrapping up any business that can't meet its payments. However she works long hours and her health is suffering.
She finds letters as she tidies up. They are letters between her Aunt Ruby and Margaret Wise Brown, a well known children's author. Sarah Jio has asked herself what if.... and let her imagination go. The Bluebird bookstore is a replica of the room in Goodnight Moon, written by A W Brown. Part of the story is told through the letters that are found at regular intervals.
Meanwhile June goes about her daily life, meeting up with Gavin who runs a restaurant next door and a relationship begins to develop. This relationship is supportive and Gavin plays an important role in helping June to make decisions about her life and the bookstore.
There is a strong theme of friendship throughout the book, the friendship of Ruby and Margaret, the true friends of June and local people who loved Ruby. Then there is the relationship of sisters, Both Ruby and Margaret have issues and June has her own issue with her sister that she struggles with, through to its heartbreaking yet joyous culmination.
There are a few mysteries weaving their way through out the book. What is the meaning of a car that slowly drives past the bookstore and takes photos, and why would someone break into the bookstore. The biggest mystery - where is the baby that was adopted out many years ago?
I thoroughly enjoyed this story, although I did think that everything was a little too tidy at the end of it, however the whole story was a wonderful idea and I was prepared to overlook it. As a child I was entertained by the stories of M W Brown, she was every bit as important as a writer of literary works. Authors who hook children into the magical world of books and into being life long readers are right up there.