Review: Goodnight June

18667906Title: Goodnight June

Author: Sarah Jio

Rating: ★★

Provided Synopsis: 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.

Review: I hate when I have to write unfavorable reviews, but there sometimes comes a time when I have to quite simply say that I really did not like a book. I went into Goodnight June intrigued with the author-created speculation about the inspiration behind Margaret Wise Brown’s famous children’s story, Goodnight Moon. Yet what I received in return was a story that I had to force myself to finish. I had no connection to June as a character, nor could I feel much of a connection between her and any of the other characters in the book. This story wanted to rely heavily upon emotion, which became a problem when the emotion cannot reach the reader because it is so contrived and predictable. Reviews I had read about this book told me there were unexpected twists, but I was able to figure out where this story was headed very early on. How can I care about June and those around her when there are no dimensions behind the words?

Perhaps this book could have been improved if it had been written from a different perspective? The letters exchanged between Aunt Ruby and Margaret Wise Brown were the most interesting components of this story, and I think the relationship between these two woman along with the lives they lived separately (as discussed in their letters to one another) were strong enough to carry this story on its own. It is remarkable how those few letters June finds between these two women carry more depth and content than the one-dimensional storyline they serve a little part of. This is the first book by Sarah Jio I have ever read, and if all of them are like this then I cannot imagine I will be diving into another one.

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