June is a banker in New York City who has the unenviable job of delivering foreclosures to small businesses. She's good at it, but deep down doesn't enjoy her job at all. A letter arrives from Seattle, informing June that her Great Aunt Ruby has died and left June her bookstore, Bluebird Books. June is grief stricken at the thought of Ruby being gone, and regrets that her job has taken her so far away and kept her from visiting Ruby--now it's too late. June takes a week's vacation to visit Seattle and plans on clearing out Bluebird Books, selling the store, and returning to her life in New York City.
Once in Seattle, June finds a letter from Ruby, imploring June to remember how much she loved Bluebird Books, and how she's meant to take it over and keep reminding the children of Seattle how important books and bookstores are to this world. In addition to the letter, June finds correspondence between Ruby and Margaret Wise Brown from the 1940's when Bluebird was in it's infancy. Ruby and Margaret met at school--Margaret the teacher, Ruby the student. They formed an immediate bond, and kept up their friendship through letters and visits. June suspects there is much more--were Ruby and her bookstore the inspiration for Margaret's most famous book, Goodnight Moon?
There is much more to this book, of course. Ruby, Margaret, and June all have estranged sisters, and each struggles to overcome bitter feelings in order to form loving relationships with their sisters. Are any of them successful? And June finds out so much about the Ruby before June knew her as Aunt. It is true we all have such stories to tell about lives; stories lived in the spaces of our hearts and minds that are precious and not always obvious to others.
I so loved this book. It is, of course, most of all about being happy and living your life doing what you love. If we could all do that, how much happier and brighter this world would be for everyone. And anyone who is a fan of books, actual physical bookstores, and the transformative power of reading will also adore this book. I have seen children's faces light up when they are given a book, or have eagerly waited for a favorite author's latest novel. Books are truly one of the best things in life. And bookstores--for all those who say they are dying, you are wrong. As long as we continue to cherish books and the hallowed places that keep them for us, patiently waiting for someone to take them home and make them part of their lives...well, bookstores will always survive. Have you been to one lately? If not, maybe it's time. Put down the mouse and find your nearest bookstore and remember the thrill of walking in as a small child, smelling the paper, and knowing somewhere on those shelves there was a book waiting just for you. Magic.
Rating: 8/10 for a unique story with characters you can't help but love.
Available in paperback, e-book, and audio.