Goodnight June

Goodnight June

by Sarah Jio


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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780142180211
Publisher: Penguin Publishing Group
Publication date: 05/27/2014
Pages: 320
Sales rank: 253,618
Product dimensions: 7.80(w) x 5.20(h) x 0.90(d)
Age Range: 18 Years

About the Author

Sarah Jio is the #1 international, New York Times, and USA Today bestselling author of eight novels. She is also a longtime journalist who has contributed to Glamour, The New York Times, Redbook, Real Simple, O: The Oprah Magazine, Cooking Light, Woman’s Day, Marie Claire, Self, and many other outlets, including NPR’s Morning Edition, appearing as a commentator. Jio lives in Seattle with her three young boys.

Read an Excerpt

***This excerpt is from an advance uncorrected proof.***
Chapter 1

New York City

May 3, 2005

Everyone has a happy place, the scene that comes into view when you close your eyes and let your mind transport you to the dot on the globe where life is cozy, safe, warm. For me, that place is the bookstore, with its emerald green walls and the big picture windows that, at night, frame the stars twinkling above. The embers in the fireplace burn the color of a setting orange sun, and I’m wrapped in a quilt, seated in a big wingback chair reading a book.


I open my eyes quickly, and the stark white walls beyond my hospital bed reset my frame of mind to reality. The thin sheet draped over my body is stiff and scratchy, bleached one too many times, and I shiver as a nurse places her icy hands on my wrist.

“Didn’t mean to wake you, honey,” she says, fastening a blood pressure cuff around my arm.

I stare at the tattoo on her forearm, a butterfly with a lot of pink and purple detailing, as she squeezes the black pump between her fingers. I immediately thank my seventeen-year-old self (profusely) for not actually going through with that wraparound dolphin ankle tattoo I was once this close to getting. A moment later she rips open the Velcro and frowns. “High,” she says. “Too high for a woman your age. Dr. Cater is going to want to talk to you about this.”

I see the disapproving look in her eyes and I want to blurt out, “I’m a vegetarian! I run marathons! I haven’t even had dessert in two years!” But my cell phone chimes, and I pick it up quickly. It’s a text from my boss, Arthur.

“Where are you? Thought you were working on second-quarter reports tonight?”

I feel my heart beat faster and I take a deep breath. He doesn’t know I’m in the hospital, of course. No one does. And no one will. The nurse begins to speak, and I hold up my hand for silence, then sit up to compose myself before hitting Reply. “Got sidetracked with another project,” I type. “Will be in asap.” The project, of course, is this pesky health condition of mine. If my body would just cooperate.

I look up at the clock on the wall: It’s after eight. I was admitted at noon with high blood pressure—dangerously high, the ER doctor said. “Am I having a heart attack?” I asked. I’ve been having symptoms for at least a month, but at a business lunch today—me, and eleven men in suits—I had to excuse myself. I felt dizzy, nauseated. My hands tingled. I couldn’t let them see me like that, so I lied and said I had to go back to the office and put out a fire. Except I didn’t go back to the office. I got into a cab, and I went to the emergency room.

I fidget with the IV in my arm that’s slowly administering blood pressure medication. This isn’t supposed to happen when you’re thirty-five. I eye my bag on the chair across the room anxiously. I need to get out of here.

As I stand up, the door opens and an older man in a white coat appears. He’s frowning. “And where do you think you’re going, Ms. Andersen?” Although in place of my name I imagine him saying “missy.”

I don’t like his tone, even if he is a doctor, even if his ultimate goal is to save my life. “I’m feeling better,” I say, still fiddling with the wire attached to my arm. “I have an important project at work that I have to get to.”

The doctor walks closer and sets my chart down on the table beside my bed. He’s obviously in no hurry to have me discharged. “What’s it going to take?”

I look at him, perplexed. “What do you mean?”

“What’s it going to take to get you to slow down?”

“Slow down?” I shake my head. “I don’t know what you’re talking about.”

He points to the folder on the table. “I read your chart.”

I gave the ER doctor a rundown of my typical day: up at five, to the office by seven (and that’s after running six or seven miles), then work, work, work until eight, maybe nine p.m. (and, actually, sometimes later).

So what? I’m a vice president at a major bank, the youngest VP in the history of Chase & Hanson Bank International, and with eight thousand employees worldwide, that’s saying something. I have to prove myself. Besides, I’m good at what I do. It’s maybe the only thing I’m good at.

“Listen, Dr. . . .”

“Dr. Cater.”

“Dr. Cater,” I say in the slow, confident voice I use to negotiate with debtors. “I appreciate your concern, but really, I’m going to be OK. Just give me the prescription, and I’ll take the pills. Problem solved.”

“It’s not that simple,” he says. “You’re a complex case.”

I let out a little laugh. “Thank you, I think.”

“Ms. Andersen, I see that you’re experiencing numbness in your hands on occasion.”

“Yes,” I say. “I run a lot. New York is cold before sunrise.”

“I don’t think it’s that kind of numbness,” he says. “I believe you have a panic disorder.”

“Excuse me—a what disorder?”

“Panic,” he says. “I think your body is under a tremendous amount of stress and that it’s compensating by shutting down, in a sense.”

“No,” I say, unwrapping the tape that’s holding the IV in place. “I know what you’re implying. You think I’m crazy. I’m not crazy. Others in my family, well, they may be. But I’m not.” I shake my head. “Listen, are you going to take this thing out of my arm, or am I going to have to yank it out myself?”

Dr. Cater looks at me for a long moment and then sighs. “If you insist on leaving, we can’t keep you here,” he says. “But please, promise me that you’ll at least consider slowing down. You’re going to run yourself into the grave.”

My cell phone buzzes again. What does this guy know about me? Absolutely nothing. I shrug. “Whatever I have to say to get out of here.”

Dr. Cater reluctantly takes the IV out of my arm, and tucks a slip of paper into my hand. “This is a prescription for beta-blockers; they work by blocking certain nerve and hormone signals that cause anxiety,” he says. “I’d like you to take the pills, at least for the next few months, and I strongly encourage you to lighten the load. Maybe exercise a little less; cut back on your workload. Take a vacation.”

I stifle a laugh. No one at my level takes time off. Lisa Melton, the new VP on the ninth floor, took a week off after her wedding and even that was frowned upon. There’s a certain expectation in finance that when you hit the big time, you pretty much live and breathe work. Vacation days just accrue into a lake of time off that you can never think of dipping into, unless you want to drown. It’s just the way it works. “I appreciate your concern,” I repeat, reaching for my coat and bag. “But I have to go.”

“There you are,” Arthur says, smirking a little. “I thought we’d lost you.” My boss is shrewd, cunning. But I know that deep down he has a heart, or at least some semblance of one, which is why I once told him that he’s the nicest asshole I’ve ever met. For his twentieth anniversary with the company, I had a gold plaque engraved with those very words.

“Sorry I had to leave the lunch today,” I say. “I . . . I . . . listen, I had a thing come up.”

“A female thing?”

“No, no,” I say, making an annoyed face. Men. “Nothing like that.” I snap back into work mode—all business. “Listen, I’m sorry. I’m here now. It won’t happen again.”

Arthur’s eyes narrow. “What in the world are you wearing?”

For the first time, I realize what I must look like after spending the past eight hours at the hospital. Disheveled hair. Smeared eye makeup. I quickly pull my wool peacoat tighter around my neck when I realize I’m still wearing the light blue hospital gown. “I came from home, didn’t have time to, er, change,” I say.

Arthur shrugs. “OK. Anyway, let’s get to work.”

We sit down at the conference room table, and he lays out a stack of file folders. “Every single one of them in default,” he says. “Who are we going after first?”

I lean in and pick up the folder on top labeled Samantha’s Knitting Room. I’ve long stopped feeling sorry for small business owners who can’t make ends meet. At first it was hard, cracking down on mom-and-pop shops. And I’ll never forget my first assignment. I cried when I delivered foreclosure papers to a café in New Orleans that had been in business since the turn of the century. It was one of those old venues with intricate wrought-iron railings and a green-and-white-striped awning. Beloved by everyone in the city, of course. When I walked in the door, I was greeted by the owner, an old woman. The café had been her father’s. It was a New Orleans tradition. John F. Kennedy had eaten lunch there in 1959. On the wall were signed photographs of Ella Fitzgerald, Judy Garland, Louis Armstrong. She brought me coffee and a plate of sugar-dusted beignets. My hands trembled when I handed her the envelope that would shutter her family’s pride and joy forever.

It got easier after that. In time, I learned to handle each case with the precision of a surgeon. In and out. No emotion. My guiding tenet: It’s business, not personal. I don’t care how cute, quaint, or beloved your business is. I don’t care if the Pope was born there or if your father got down on one knee and proposed to your mother in the storefront window. The fact of the matter is, if you can’t pay your bills, the bank—well, I will repossess and sell off your assets. It’s that simple.

I like to think that Arthur chose me to mentor because he saw a certain spark, a skill that I had that no other junior banker did. But no, I know that when Arthur saw me, he simply saw clay. I didn’t have a life outside of work. I was devoted to my job. I was malleable.

He helped me hone my skills in banking. Everyone called him “the ax man,” because he had no qualms about closing an under-performing business and auctioning off prized possessions. He didn’t even bat an eye in the face of distressed clients. He only saw the bottom line. And he trained me to see that too. He shaped me into his ax woman, and together we became the bank’s highest-performing department. We cut the fat. We got results.

Of course, not all cases require a personal visit. Usually we can get the papers signed from afar. Usually people cooperate. But some don’t. Some let the letters stack up on their desks and ignore our phone calls simply because they want to delay the inevitable. It’s hard facing your failure. I get that. But that’s life.

I hold up the folder for Samantha’s Knitting Room and thumb through the papers inside. Samantha, who, I see from the original loan application, was born the same year I was, 1970, is seven months behind on her payments. I review the contact log, and see that she’s ignored our department’s calls and letters.

“Looks like someone needs to pay Miss Samantha a visit,” Arthur says. His eyes light up the way a detective’s might when he has someone in his sights and knows he’ll be cuffing them soon.

“Yeah,” I say vacantly. My fingers are tingling again, and my head feels heavy, like a bowling ball attached to my neck, which strains under the weight. What’s wrong with me? My scalp begins to tingle next. The heavy feeling dissipates and my head begins to feel like a balloon, one that’s floating above my body. I should be invested in this discussion with Arthur. I should be approaching each case with my usual zeal. Why can’t I? My heart beats faster, and I clutch the edge of my seat. The numbness in my fingers has spread to my hand, and I can barely feel my palm. It’s happening again.

I eye the door. “Arthur,” I say quickly, “I think I ate something funny.” I clutch my stomach for believability. “I’d better excuse myself.”

He shrugs, collecting the folders into a neat pile and then handing them to me. “OK, well, it is getting late. You can go over the files this weekend. I flagged the ones that need the special June Andersen touch.”

I force a smile. “Right. Of course.”

By the time the cab drops me in front of my building, I’ve gotten control of myself, sort of. The numbness, except for a slight tingling sensation in my left pinky, is gone. I check my mail in the lobby and take the elevator to the seventh floor, then slip my key into No. 703.

I think back to that horrible biology teacher I had in my junior year of high school. I got good grades, mostly, but I’d always struggled with science. After I’d failed an exam, he called me to his desk and told me, “You know, your mother was a student of mine. She wasn’t good at science either. If you don’t study harder, you’re going to turn out just like her. Do you want to spend your life working at the checkout counter of a grocery store?” I hated the look on his face: condescending, cavalier. My eyes stung, but I didn’t give him the satisfaction of seeing me cry. I saved that for later. If Mr. Clark could only see me now. If he could see the career I have, the apartment I own (mortgaged to the hilt, but so what—my name is on the title).

Sure, I don’t have a husband, kids, a dog. But how many thirty-five-year-olds can say they purchased their own two-bedroom Manhattan apartment with parquet floors, a chef’s kitchen, and windows with peekaboo views of Central Park?

I throw my coat on the upholstered bench in the entryway— take that, Mr. Clark—and set my keys on the glass table against the wall (the decorator insisted on it, and yet every time I hear my keys click onto its surface, I hate it all the more), then sort through the mail. I recognize the handwriting on the letter atop the stack and inwardly wince. Why is she contacting me again? I have nothing to say to her. I walk to the kitchen, where I toss the envelope, un-opened, into the recycle bin. It’s too late for I’m-sorrys.

I slump down onto the couch and sort through the rest of the mail: bills, a few magazines, a postcard from my old friend Claire, in Seattle. She and her husband, Ethan, and their baby son, Daniel, are in Disneyland. “Greetings from Cinderella’s castle,” she writes. “Sending you lots of sunshine! xoxo”

It’s sweet, of course, but if I’m being completely honest, sentiments from blissfully happy friends only feel like daggers in my heart. I stopped going to weddings, and now I only send presents to baby showers. My assistant wraps them beautifully with lots of ribbons and bows. It’s easier this way, managing friendships from afar. No one gets hurt, especially not me. The only person outside of work I keep in touch with anymore is my accountant friend, Peter (smart, kind, handsome, and, I might add, very gay). And I can’t even take credit for our continued friendship; Peter does all the calling.

I sigh. Beneath a Victoria’s Secret catalog is a manila envelope from the Law Offices of Sherman and Wills. It looks official. I tear open the edge cautiously, the way I always do when inspecting legal papers, and pull out a small stack of pages with a cover letter paper-clipped to the top:

The Law Offices of Sherman and Wills

567 Madison

Seattle, WA 98101

TO: June Andersen

RE: The Estate of Ruby Crain

Dear Ms. Andersen,

By now, I’m sure you have heard that your great-aunt Ruby Crain has passed away. Let me express my deepest condolences for your loss.

I pause and place my hand over my heart. Ruby? Gone?

We were retained to handle the distribution of her estate, and I am pleased to tell you that your aunt has left her entire estate, including the children’s bookstore, Bluebird Books in Seattle, to you. Enclosed you will find the attendant paperwork. Please sign the flagged pages and return all to my assistant. You might consider coming out to Seattle to get things in order. As I’m sure you know, Ms. Crain was quite ill for the months before her death. In any case, I trust you will find it a great pleasure, as Ruby did, to own the store. If I can be of help to you in any way, please don’t hesitate to be in touch.

Best regards,

Jim Sherman, attorney

I set the letter down on the coffee table and shake my head. Ruby died? How did I not know? Tears sting my eyes, and then I feel a surge of anger. Why didn’t Mom tell me? Probably too busy with her new boyfriend to even think to mention it. And yet, I realize the person I’m really angry at is myself. I could have written Ruby. I could have visited her, but I was always too busy. And now it’s too late. Now she’s gone.

I stare at the paperwork in disbelief. Of course, we were close, at least when I was a child, but I had no idea that Ruby would choose me as her heir, bypassing my mother and sister, Amy, even. Amy. How will she feel about this? It still feels strange not to be able to pick up the phone and call her. We shared everything growing up (everything except a father, though neither Amy’s nor mine was ever in the picture). I think of her face, that blond hair, just like our mom’s, her plump, pouty lips that always drove boys crazy, her cerulean blue eyes. It’s been five years since the incident, and yet the memory of it still smarts, so I turn to the past instead, when Amy and I were rosy-cheeked girls, skipping hand in hand to Green Lake.

I catch my reflection in the window and I do a double take. What happened to me? That curious little girl with blond braids and her nose always in a book has grown into, I hate to admit, a woman who has little time for family, much less books. I rack my brain and try to remember the last time I even spoke to Ruby, and then I hear her voice in my ear. She called on Christmas Day last year. She’d attempted to organize a Christmas dinner at the store. There’d be a burnt turkey in the oven and a platter full of sugar-dusted cookies. Just like old times. I couldn’t make it, but she called on Christmas Day just the same. Mom and Amy were there. I could hear them laughing in the background, and it made me tense up. Ruby sensed that.

“Is everything all right, June?” she asked.

“Yes,” I lied, “everything’s fine.”

“I know you’re so busy in New York, June,” she said. I could hear the hurt in her voice. I still hear it. “But I really hoped you could visit.”

“I just couldn’t break away this year; I’m sorry.” I said, staring at my lonely apartment, bare of holiday decorations. A Christmas tree for one seemed like such a waste.

“Are you ever going to come home, June?” she asked. Her voice sounded older than it ever had. It was airier and it crackled a bit around the edges. That frightened me. The passage of time has always frightened me, but it especially did in that moment.

“I don’t know, Ruby,” I said honestly, wiping a tear from my eye. The truth is, I didn’t know if I could ever go home to Seattle. I hadn’t thought about my home in a long time. When I left, I left for good. Laura Ingalls Wilder said, “Home is the nicest word there is,” but as the years passed, I began to feel that those sentiments didn’t apply to me.

Though we always lived in Seattle, our little family of three moved from apartment to apartment when I was a child. Mom, Amy, and me. To her credit, Mom was good at finding jobs, just not very good at keeping them. She waited tables, worked the night shift at a 76 station, and punched tickets at the movie theater, but all were short-lived. She’d call in sick too many times, or forget her shift, or arrive late, or something. Eventually Mom found work at a little grocery store down the street, and I’m not sure if her boss was just really nice or maybe she’d learned from her mistakes, but she wasn’t unemployed anymore after that. On summer days, Amy and I used to sit on the curb outside the store and munch on sunflower seeds. We’d crack the shells open with our teeth and then toss them in the storm drain beneath us. Every few minutes the automatic sliding doors would open and close, sending a blast of icy, scrubbed air-conditioned air onto our skin. I still remember the way that air smelled: slightly sweet, like the skin of ripe bananas, with a tinge of cleaning solvent.

Mom worked hard at the grocery store, and on her days off, she played hard. There was a never-ending stream of boyfriends with names like Marc, or Rick, or Mac. Many of them played the guitar, and Mom would always go out to watch them in bars around town. My sister and I would stand in the doorway of the bathroom and watch her style her long blond hair. She was an expert with a curling iron, setting her bangs in thick rolls before feathering and teas- ing them back with her teal green pick. She’d finish the look with a thick layer of hair spray, then apply green eye shadow to her lids and pink blush to the tops of her cheeks. She was beautiful, and she knew it. A spritz of Jean Naté, and she’d be out the door.

The lemony, musky scent of her perfume would linger for hours after she went. The familiar smell comforted me when it was stormy out, or when the back door creaked in the wind. I knew I couldn’t cry, even at eight years old. It was my job to take care of my little sister. Amy was only four.

Standing on the step stool to reach the stove, I’d manage to open a can of SpaghettiOs or a box of Kraft mac and cheese. I didn’t know how to make the latter, so I guessed and boiled the noodles with the powdered cheese sauce. I remember the time I found a hunk of old cheddar in the fridge and threw that in too. The result was a soupy, gooey mess that Amy and I ate anyway. I’d usually dish our dinner up in mugs (because the bowls were always dirty and piled high in the sink), and together we’d watch TV until Amy got sleepy. I’d help her into her pajamas and tuck her into bed, then read her a story. We didn’t have much, but we always had books, thanks to Aunt Ruby, who brought over boxes of them. And because of her, we learned of entire worlds that existed beyond the walls of our drab apartment. We followed Madeline through the streets of Paris and made pumpkin pie with Laura and Ma in Little House in the Big Woods. And every night, I read Amy her favorite book, Goodnight Moon.

It was my favorite too. I came to love the nursery with its green walls and striped curtains, the sense of love and warmth. The old woman (the mother? grandmother? a great-aunt like Ruby?) hovering near as the child nestles into his bed. She doesn’t leave her child like Mom left us. She stays and knits, rocking in her chair as he sleeps, as the nursery darkens ever so slowly and the stars sparkle out the window. To me, it seemed the epitome of love.

Ruby hated the way Mom raised us. And for years, she didn’t even know how we lived. Mom told her a different story. And she squandered the money Ruby gave her to help pay for our school clothes and necessities (Ruby, though not wealthy by today’s standards, was very generous, and we were her only family). For a time, Mom spent it on booze and tube tops in every color of the rainbow. One evening Ruby showed up on our front steps and saw the house in its state of disarray. Mom was passed out in the bedroom. Amy and I were watching TV. Ruby had tears in her eyes when she took my hand and then lifted Amy into her arms. “Come on, girls,” she said. “You’re coming with me. I won’t let you live like this. Not anymore.”

She gave us a warm bath that night in her little apartment above the bookstore. Mom showed up two days later, sober and apologetic. They went downstairs together, and Amy and I heard a lot of shouting. After that, things were different. Sort of. When Mom was home, she paid more attention to us. She even took us to the zoo one day. We came to spend more time with Ruby at the bookstore, too. We’d stay for entire weekends and sleep in her apartment a couple of nights a week. It was an open, loft-style space, with exposed brick walls and high ceilings. Ruby hated being confined by walls, she said, so she kept her little bed in the living space and set up the bedroom for Amy and me. I loved it there. Amy and I each had our own twin bed with fresh sheets and big comfy quilts. I hated going home. I wished we could live with Ruby.

She’d read to us for hours, feed us picnic dinners by the fire. I feel a funny flutter in my stomach when I think about Bluebird Books. In the mid-1940s, Ruby was a pioneer of sorts, opening the area’s first children’s bookstore on Sunnyside Avenue, just a few blocks up from Green Lake, and building it into a Seattle institution.

I stand up, and without knowing why at first, I walk to my bedroom and open the closet. Far in the back is a box containing the few remaining relics of my childhood: a diary I kept from the age of ten to twelve; the dried wrist corsage Jake Hadley gave me on the night of the homecoming dance; my baby book, in which Mom only bothered to fill out two pages; and a stack of children’s books from Aunt Ruby. When I left Seattle at age eighteen for college on the East Coast, I had just one suitcase. I’d wanted to pack all of my books, every one of them. But Mom wasn’t willing to pay for shipping—even book rate—nor did I have the money to do it myself. So I picked the books that I loved most, and on top of the stack was Goodnight Moon.

I pull the book out of the box and hold it in my hands. It’s a full-size hardback, not the tiny board books bookstores sell these days. I flip through the pages, and my heart contracts when I think of Amy’s tiny fingers pointing to the mouse hiding on each page. It was our little game to find him, and we never tired of it.

I sit down on the floor and lean back against the side of my bed. It’s dark, and I can see an almost-full moon outside my window, outshining the city lights all around. I don’t think of work or the stack of folders on the dining room table requiring my attention. Instead I think of Seattle, Ruby, and the life I left behind so many years ago.

I think of Bluebird Books.


Excerpted from "Goodnight June"
by .
Copyright © 2014 Sarah Jio.
Excerpted by permission of Penguin Publishing Group.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

What People are Saying About This

From the Publisher

Praise for Sarah Jio and her novels:
“Jio has become one of the most-read women in America.” —Woman’s World (on Morning Glory)
“Delightful and uplifting.” –Historical Novel Society (on Goodnight June)
“Linger[s] long after the last page.” –Romantic Times (on The Last Camellia)
Eminently readable . . . a tribute to family and forgiveness.” —Booklist (on Goodnight June)
“Terrific … compelling … an intoxicating blend of mystery, history and romance.” –Real Simple (on Blackberry Winter)

Reading Group Guide

Goodnight Moon by Margaret Wise Brown (Goodnight Songs) 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.

Sarah Jio lives in Seattle with her three young children and a geriatric golden retriever.

1. Ruby and Brownie’s letters to one another make it clear that writing Goodnight Moon was a collaborative process.  How collaborative is writing for you, personally? Do you have a few trusted readers you’ll take your ideas to, or do you prefer to keep your writing to yourself until you’re finished?
I’m a very social, outgoing person, but when it comes to writing, for me, it’s a very solitary endeavor. The novel idea process is incredibly special to me, and when I begin plotting a new book, and when the characters begin whispering, I keep them close, and I (selfishly!) don’t introduce them to anyone else. Of course, before I begin writing a novel, I get the feedback and approval from my agents and editor, but as I proceed in my draft, I keep the story very private. I’m always tempted to tell my friends, my mother, or the barista at the café, but I ultimately do not. I live alone with my stories almost until they are completed. My first readers are always my editor and agents, and no one else.
2. Goodnight June places a real emphasis on the importance of reading, especially for children. Are your three boys big readers? What do you do to try and cultivate their interest?
My boys love books, just as I did as a child—and I love it. It’s been incredibly satisfying as a mother to see them catch the love and joy of reading. I began reading them books as one-week-old infants, and visits to bookstores and libraries are weekly activities for us. And while books are special to them (they adore The Magic Treehouse series), they ultimately love stories, and I love to tell them. Bedtime always includes reading (and, yes, I may have read Goodnight Moon to them one thousand times over the years), and story-telling. We’ll most often read a book together, and then as I’m tucking them into their beds, I’ll cave to requests for a story. My father used to tell my siblings and I stories before bed—grand, imaginative, exciting stories—and I’ve followed in his footsteps with the tradition. My boys’ favorite story right now involves an alternate reality, accessible through a door in the fence, where candy grows on trees.
3. Sisterhood is a major theme of this novel, and you dedicated the book to your own sister. What inspired you to focus on these relationships?
My sister and I are very close in age, and as a result, went about life at the same pace. I have always been grateful for her companionship and friendship in my life, and when I first thought of this story idea, I began to think of the intricate dynamics of sister relationships. I also have a lovely sister-in-law who I adore, and parts of her own life story found their way into some of the ideas in the book. For the record, brothers are special too, and I am blessed to have two.
4. What are you working on now?
I am just completing my seventh novel with Penguin (Plume) called The Look of Love. It’s an incredibly special novel to me and I can’t wait to share it with the world on November 25, 2014! It’s a story about a woman born with a rare gift—the ability to see love. 

  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?

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Goodnight June: A Novel 4.6 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 13 reviews.
Laine-librariancanreadtoo More than 1 year ago
When you were a child, stories were read to you in all forms. Now a days it's in the form of television and movies. But there was a time where adults used to READ to their children. Either it was to calm the child down, or just for pleasure. The child get to spend that time frame dreaming of knights in shining armor slaying dragons, saving queens. Or living in fairy tales and talking to animals. After the story ends, they either dream into that world, or not. It's just a bunch of stories. They are not real. So when they grow up to be adults, that's all they think of children's stories....false. Not real, no real honor behind children's books. Or is there? June Anderson is a successful professionally and living the dream. Only her dream doesn't quite reach into her personal life but for her she is okay with that. Until she receives a letter stating that someone from her childhood whom she loved very much had passed away. Grieving over the lost of her wonderful Aunt, June realizes she has inherited her Aunt's small bookstore - Bluebird Books - who Aunt Ruby has owned since the 1940s. June is determined to make her dreams come true in New York and doesn't want to get tied down in Seattle with a small bookstore. But for her Aunt, she'll go to Seattle and see what needs to be down. Little does she realize that this little bookstore has more than children's books on it's shelves. June starts finding more interesting stories of an Aunt that she thought she knew. One interesting fact that she never knew was that her Aunt Ruby was very good friends with a woman by the name Margaret Wise brown, the author of Goodnight Moon. As June finds more interesting stories between the two women she starts finding out more history of her own life. But for someone has carried all her baggage around with her for so long, it's kind of hard to unpack and let things go. How will these children books help June unpack her baggage and let go of the past to receive the present? How will the books help you? A wonderful tale surrounding the stories of famous children's books and also a tale to help you remember your childhood and what it means to have those memories close to your heart.
smg5775 More than 1 year ago
A fictional story about correspondence of friends, one a bookseller, the other the author of Good Night, Moon takes us back the 1946 and brings us into the present time when it looks as if the book store will be sold. I enjoyed reading the letters between the two women. I also liked how June's aunt Ruby set up a scavenger hunt for her to find the letters between Ruby and Brownie. I got to know the two women through their letters. June got to know her aunt better through them also. I did not expect the ending of the letters. I was surprised. I liked that June finally was able to let go of the past. The ending for that part of her life was rushed. She found the peace she needed and was able to find her future but it was an easy clichéd ending. The secondary characters were not always likable but they did add more drama to the story and June's life. I applaud June for rising about her upbringing but it was a drama for her to live in her life. She had to make big decisions there so she could move forward. I am glad she made the decisions she did. This is a story of sisters, friends, trust, beginnings, and endings and how each affects our lives. A good read.
the-PageTurner More than 1 year ago
This is a wonderful book. For various reasons it was very personal to me. The main character June is a big time banker in New York City when she finds her Aunt Ruby has died. June takes off for her hometown of Seattle only to find that Aunt Ruby has left her a children's book store. Bluebird Books is a small and failing store. And than June finds that Ruby was great friends with Margaret Wise Brown the author of Goodnight Moon. What follows contains all that is to be found in a good book. Romance, mystery, friendship and forgiveness . I did not want this one to end
Twink More than 1 year ago
Sarah Jio's latest is Goodnight June. Close to the title of that classic children's book Goodnight Moon, right? Well, Jio actually imagines what the origins of Goodnight Moon might have been in this cosy read. Jio's books often tie the present and past together in a back and forth narrative. Goodnight June follows this formula as well. June is a high powered banker who is in overdrive every day. When her beloved Aunt Ruby dies, she leaves June Bluebird Books, the children's bookstore she started in 1940. June takes a few days off to settle the estate. But that timeframe stretches to a few weeks as she begins to discover things about her aunt's past that she didn't know. Specifically, that she was great friends with Margaret Wise Brown - the author of Goodnight Moon. The two women's lives are slowly revealed through a set of letters, as well as a mystery. The cute owner of the café beside the store is also an incentive to stay. Jio has again crafted an easily read, enjoyable novel. Her imagining of the connections between Wise and her aunt is imaginative. As with all of Jio's books, there is a light mystery, some heartbreak, some romance and an ending that will please readers. There are a few plot devices that are overly fortuitous, but I was reading for that happy ending, so I didn't let them bother me. I find Jio's books to be good, light reading for the plane or the beach. If you've read other Jio books, then you will enjoy this latest. Love found, love lost, and a love of books all figure into the plot of Goodnight June.
momof3boysj More than 1 year ago
**I received a free copy from the publisher** I enjoyed this fictional story of June and her journey to finding herself and her life's passion. June is career-driven, almost heartless, in the finance industry. Her aunt's death, and her inheritance of the book store she practically grew up in, takes her on a path toward uncovering secrets of her past, possibilities for the future, and a fun "what could have happened" if her Aunt Ruby really had been friends with Margaret Wise Brown. The letters of correspondence create a "scavenger hunt" of clues which lead her to an about-face of the life she was living, to a life worth living, reuniting of her family, and adding promise to a new generation.
MissBethBC More than 1 year ago
Sarah writes what I consider to be women's fiction, with an added flare of romance.  Now I have a horrible confession to make, I am not familiar at all with Goodnight Moon, the children's story that inspired Sarah's wonderful story of how Good Night Moon came into being.   You can bet the farm, I will get my hands on a copy for my grand-daughter! In Jio's book, Goodnight June, the main character, June Anderson was a strong and successful banker who inherited her Aunt Ruby's children's book store, Bluebird Books. The shop is in  a mess without Ruby's  tender care and she is in hopes that her niece will remember her love for the bookstore and be able to save it from the financial crisis at hand.  Do physical books lose out to video games, television and the internet?     Or is there a way to save the beloved book store.  The characters are so compelling in this read that it makes the journey through Jio's book, one of joy and a bit of angst.   The world is not perfect and Jio's characters endure the love and loss as we all do.   My favorite character was Gavin, June's love interest.   He was a chef with wisdom beyond his years and I was so glad they found each other. The story is told through letters written and received by Aunt Ruby and her friend, Margaret Wise Brown, a scavenger hunt, and the desire that estranged sisters reconcile.  It was a very moving and heartfelt story that was hard to put down and even harder to not dwell upon it when you did put it down.   There is always depth and layers with Sarah Jio's books and this one was perhaps one of her best.   It was imaginative and very much filled with love.
sewolf0310 More than 1 year ago
Most of us have heard the beloved children’s story “Goodnight Moon” and the great green room by Margaret Wise Brown.  Sometimes you just ask yourself, what was the inspiration for that book?  In Margaret’s case, we will never know, as she died unexpectedly at the early age of 42.  But this is one person’s idea of what might have been that inspriation. Ruby and Margaret were friends, and since they lived so far apart, they would write to each other.  They would write about the good times and the not-so-good times.  Ruby owned a small bookstore, and Margaret was an author of children’s books. Ruby never married, so when she passed away, she left her bookstore to her niece, June.  June was a successful businesswoman in the banking industry in New York.  When she heard of her aunt’s death and that she was responsible for the bookstore, she thought she would take a few days off to take care of the bookstore and her aunt’s things.  Little did she know what she would find. Not only did she find letters between Ruby and Margaret, she also found similarities between their lives and her own.  The small bookstore that had so many childhood memories was now hers to decide what to do with.  You’ll have to read it yourself to see if she sells it and goes back to her financial career, or keeps it open for more readers to enjoy. Whether any or all parts of this are true or not, it is still a wonderful read.  Goodnight Moon is a part of most children’s lives, and what could be a better inspiration than a bookstore’s owner?
quaintinns More than 1 year ago
What a delightful, magical, and inspirational read by talented Sarah Jio, and is reflective of her creative passion and research throughout the book. If you have followed Margaret Wise Brown-the international classic children’s author of the famous “Goodnight Moon”, you will love stepping back into the pages of American literature, and sharing in the journey of this close bond of friendship, and heart-felt letters between these two women- and how their lives connected. June, a successful VP at a bank in New York, has left her home in Seattle and her ties with her sister, due to a betrayal which she deems unforgivable, putting walls up around her. Of course, at the bank her job is to foreclose on small businesses without sympathy or care, and daily meds needed for her anxiety and stress to cope. She receives the news her favorite Aunt Ruby has died, and left her the Bluebirds Bookstore in Seattle. June has loved this bookstore and has fond memories from childhood; however, she knows it is in financial ruin (like who can make a bookstore work in the days of the internet), and her first thought is to sell it to a developer and continue with her life in New York. However, walking into the bookstore with its charming loft upstairs, she immediately is drawn to fond memories from her childhood and gets pulled in. She soon discovers more than the large debt owed on the property; She finds letters written between her Aunt Ruby and the famous Margaret Wise Brown (two best friends sharing their secrets), hidden with clues inside the books, and the inspiration for her famous book . . . and oh, even more mysterious The Bluebird Bookstore was a gift from Ruby’s married lover.. (you need to read the book to learn more) – do not want to spoil (quite delicious)! June sets out to uncover its past and bring the “green room” back to life. Full of mystery, and treasures, and of course, a new love interest, Gavin who owns the restaurant next door. Combined with June’s love for books, her desire to rebuild her Aunt’s legacy, and the love of an exciting new man, plus plenty of other surprises in the treasure box, along the way . . . . Strength, resilience, and courage will give her the power to create miracles and demonstrate the answers were right in front of her all along. Thank you, to TPENGUIN GROUP Plume and NetGalley for providing an ARC in exchange for an honest and unbiased review
bongie More than 1 year ago
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Anonymous More than 1 year ago
The letters are wonderful. Most of the book is very good; however the final part is just too good to be believed. I wish the author had left out Bill Gates and NBC. It was a little creepy when they arrived. I wonder why this was added since it distracted from a good story. I have noticed a lot of current novels have this added bits - like required agendas to be published. This book deserved better. Read for the historical fiction and skim when the junk arrives.