If you have ever read the classic children’s book Goodnight Moon, by Margaret Wise Brown, Sarah Jio’s novel Goodnight June will serve as a satisfying explanation of its origins. My oldest daughter was especially enamored of the great green room and wore our first copy out, lovingly nibbling on its hardboard cover and insisting on having it read to her night after night. I admit that as I read it at bedtime through the years to all four of my children, I accepted it at face value and never thought too much about the author’s inspiration. The story has a lovely, soothing rhythm and flow to it that helped tip my children in the direction of slumber, and for years I had it more or less memorized. Sarah Jio had a similar experience reading Goodnight Moon to her children, but let her imagination run wild, conjuring a fictional background for this wonderful book that has taken a place of honor among many bedtime routines.
However, if you have never read nor even heard of Goodnight Moon, that will not detract from your enjoyment of Goodnight June in the least. Jio’s novel stands alone as an independently fantastic read. Being familiar with Goodnight Moon will only enhance your reading experience, particularly if you happen to hold it near and dear to your heart, as I do.
June, the main character of Goodnight June, is living what seems, on the surface, to be a successful and satisfying big city life in New York. But while she may have a great career and plenty of money, friends, family, and romance have been conspicuously absent for quite some time. June’s life has become an empty shell. A heartbreaking letter from back home in Seattle is enough to set June in a tailspin and turn her life in an entirely new direction. Returning to Seattle for what she thinks will be a quick visit, June discovers that her beloved great aunt, proprietor of an iconic children’s book store, lead a secret life. June is surprised to discover that her aunt had a close friendship with author Margaret Wise Brown and may have had a role in the creation of one of Brown’s most well-known books.
There are many more surprises in store for June as she uncovers the secrets of her aunt’s mysterious life. Some will affect June far more personally than she could have imagined. And the longer she is away from her hectic New York City lifestyle, the clearer it becomes that it might not be the life she wants after all.
Fresh and charming are the first adjectives that come to mind to describe Goodnight June. It has a little mystery, a little romance, a little despair, and a lot of heart. The story is a sweet, savory and distinctive reminder that it is never too late to make your life into something better.
Alysia lives in Metro Detroit with her husband and four children. She writes about family life, parenting issues, and other things of interest to her on her blog, Michigal.
Review copy was provided free of any obligation by Plume. No monetary or any other form of compensation was received.