Now that I have a nearly 30 minute commute and an hour-long lunch break 5 days a week, I’ve been seeking out more audio books to fill up my time. Sadly, I’m ridiculously picky about audio books and tend to stop listening after the first 5 minutes if I don’t like a narrator. One of my co-workers, who incidentally has an hour-long commute and also listens to audio books, told me to just power through and the book a try. So I did that with Goodnight June, even though instinct told me to stop after the first few minutes.
June is a high-powered executive at a New York City bank, who specializes in shutting down businesses that have over-withdrawn and are at risk of foreclosure. She’s good at what she does. She’s stopped having feelings for the poor souls whose life’s work she’s shuttering because of missed mortgage payments. She’s so good and focused on her work that she gets panic attacks on a regular basis. After a visit to the doctor for one of these attacks, June receives an email informing her of the death of her beloved Aunt Ruby. June has also inherited Aunt Ruby’s children’s bookstore, Bluebird Books in Seattle. For the next two weeks, June stays in Ruby’s apartment above the bookstore to sort out the details.
This is pretty much where the book goes awry. At some point within days of June’s arrival, she seems to have slipped the skin of high-powered, soulless bank executive and is all of a sudden a loving and compassionate girl. She and the chef who runs the restaurant next to the bookstore fall in love within days. He co-owns the restaurant with his ex-fiancé, who gives June her blessing after a couple of days. So many things happen so quickly and suddenly within a couple of days that its mind-boggling. There are also a steady stream of mysterious letters hidden throughout the bookstore, although Ruby didn’t really make it that difficult to find them. June figured out the hunt fairly quickly and referred to them a lot in the book. The letters were written between Ruby and the author Margaret Wise Brown. The letters were actually the best part about the book, although even then, they felt forced and contrived. One of my issues with this story is that everything just happened for June. The scene with Bill and Melinda Gates had me laughing and I don’t think I was meant to find it funny. Even the love story was on fast-forward. Everything just happened with no conflict, no development or growth. I think that’s mostly because the author’s time-span for the book was all of 2 weeks to maybe a month. She crammed in way too many events and developments for such a short span of time. I wish she had spaced it out over a year or so, to really show a realistic growth and character development of June. There were also pretty huge plot holes that made the big reveal at the end of the book predictable right from the start. There are a number of side-stories that led to nowhere. June and the saga with her sister. The way that entire conflict wrapped up was incredibly hollow. This grudge was built up throughout the entire book, hinted at before finally revealed. Then the entire resolution took place in all of a few minutes. It just wasn’t realistic. Nothing in this book happened in a realistic timeline or process.
I picked up this audio book right after finishing Delicious, which is also about books, mysterious letters, scavenger hunts and old-time grudges. This book also has virtually all 4 or 5-star reviews on LibraryThing. The difference between narrator, storytelling abilities and plot of the two books is miles apart. Julia Whelan, who narrated Delicious, is one of my favorite narrators with her incredible ability to mimic different accents and voices for men and women. Katherine Kellgren came across as very sharp-toned and her Spanish accent sounded Russian. She didn’t do the best job differentiating between characters, she’d often slip into the voice of June’s sister when it was June talking throughout the book. Similarly with other characters. No one had a distinct personality the way Whelan had ascribed to the characters in Delicious.
Lots of people loved this book and loved the author. I may have liked the print version more than the audio, but this book just wasn’t for me. It’s probably a good, light-hearted beach read for someone who just wants a fun love story.