Goodnight June (Jio)

Goodnight June 
Sarah Jio, 2014
Penguin Group (USA)
320 pp.
ISBN-13: 9780142180211

The New York Times bestselling author of Blackberry Winter imagines the inspiration for Goodnight Moon.

Goodnight Moon by Margaret Wise Brown 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. (From the publisher.)

Author Bio
Where—Washington State, USA
Education—B.A., Western Washington University
Currently—lives in Seattle, Washington

Sarah Jio is a veteran magazine writer and the health and fitness blogger for Glamour magazine. She has written hundreds of articles for national magazines and top newspapers including Redbook, O, The Oprah Magazine, Cooking Light, Glamour, SELF, Real Simple, Fitness, Marie Claire, Hallmark magazine, Seventeen, The Nest, Health, Bon Appetit, Gourmet, The Seattle Times, Parents, Woman’s Day, American Baby, Parenting, and Kiwi. She has also appeared as a commentator on NPR’s Morning Edition.

Sarah has a degree in journalism and writes about topics that include food, nutrition, health, entertaining, travel, diet/weight loss, beauty, fitness, shopping, psychology, parenting and beyond. She frequently tests and develops recipes for major magazines.

Her first novel The Violets of March, published in April, 2011, was chosen as a Best Book of 2011 by Library Journal. Her second novel, The Bungalow, was published in December of the same year. Blackberry Winter came out in 2012. The Last Camellia and Morning Glory were both issued in 2013.

Sarah lives in Seattle with her husband, Jason, and three young sons. (From the author's website.)

Book Reviews
June vow to fight to keep [her aunt's] financially fragile bookstore. In unwinding a feel-good plot with a certain amount of predictability, Jio also provides some final twists as she reveals family discord in June’s life and long-held secrets in Ruby’s. This eminently readable novel with particular appeal for fans of children’s literature is a tribute to family and forgiveness. --Michele Leber

A woman struggling with her past discovers a family connection to a classic children's book.... Readers unfamiliar with Brown's works may not relate to Jio's many references to book titles, bunnies and the "great green room," but the novel provides an adequate diversion for those who enjoy light romance and mystery. Jio sprinkles her book with sunny messages about being the author of your own life.
Kirkus Reviews

Discussion Questions
1. In the opening lines of the novel, June is imagining her “happy place” — Bluebird Books. Despite the fact that the mere memory of the bookstore comforts June, when she learns she has inherited the store, she plans to sell. Why does it take her so long to change her mind?

2. Why is June so good at her job at Chase and Hanson? Her professional mindset hinders her personal life, but does that bother her initially?

3. Ruby asks in her letter to June, “What is childhood without stories?” What do you think? Why is imagination such an important part of childhood?

4. In her letters to “Brownie,” Ruby says of Anthony that “even in our brief encounters at the store, I feel as if I know him, really know him.” Have you ever experienced anything similar, either with a friend or a significant other?

5. Discuss Ruby and Brownie’s friendship. They bond over their difficult relationships with their sisters, but are they not like sisters to one another? Does their friendship in some way fill the space left behind by their sisters? Or are sisters irreplaceable? How so?

6. Gavin and June hit it off right away. How does Gavin help June become the person she wants to be? Do you think the people we love always bring out the best in us?

7. June, Ruby, and Brownie falter and doubt themselves from time to time, but more often than not, a friend is waiting in the wings to help them get back on their feet. Do any characters manage to succeed without help from others? What do you think the author means to say about the importance of this kind of collaboration and support?

8. What was your first impression of May Magnuson? Victoria tells June that May is looking for something she believes is in the bookstore. What does June make of this?

9. How is June’s personal development juxtaposed against her efforts to track down her cousin, J. P. Crain? By the time she discovers the truth about him, has she let go of her past and fully embraced who she really is?

10. This quote from Margaret Wise Brown illustrates one of the central themes of the novel: “Everything that anyone would ever look for is usually where they find it.” Do you agree?

11. Why is June finally able to forgive Amy? At the beginning of the story, June tells her mother that people don’t change. But is that true? How has June changed?

12. What is June’s relationship with her mother like? Does she forgive her mother for the way she was treated as a young child? Does learning the truth about her own birth change her perspective on how she was raised?

13. Were you surprised to learn that Arthur was ultimately the one who saved Bluebird Books? He tells June that she reminded him that he was once a little boy who liked to read. How has the power of the written word shaped the lives of some of the other characters? Does the book make a compelling case for the importance of bookstores in our lives?
(Questions issued by the publisher.)

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