June Andersen is a career-driven New York banker teetering on the edge. After an alarming health episode, doctors warn her to change her ways, but she only takes an enforced break when she receives a letter from a law firm in her hometown of Seattle informing her that her great-aunt Ruby has died and that she has inherited her bookstore. At first, the pragmatic June intends to sell the store, but events conspire to change her mind. She is attracted to Gavin, who owns the adjoining restaurant, and an encounter with her estranged sister, Amy, forces June to confront unresolved issues from the past.
While sorting through Ruby’s stock, June comes across letters exchanged in the 1940s between Ruby and her best friend, children’s author Margaret Wise Brown. June’s defensive shell crumbles as the letters reveal secrets about Ruby’s life and snippets of wisdom about the value of sisters. There is also a mystery to solve when the store is broken into.
Although there is historical fiction in its invented letters, this is for the most part a contemporary novel about self-discovery and why bookstores still matter in our modern world. It is written from the heart with great affection for the woman who was the catalyst for many a child’s love of reading and is a fine tribute to “Brownie,” whose work will no doubt find a resurgence if this novel has the success it deserves.
This is a must for all those adults who adored Goodnight Moon when they were children, and those parents, grandparents and others who are introducing its simple charm and wonder to the next generation. Sarah Jio’s delightful and uplifting novel is guaranteed to melt even the toughest cynic and deserves a top rating of five stars (plus the moon).