13 Little Blue Envelopes
by Maureen Johnson
E-book from public library
[#56 in my 75 book challenge]
I don’t know about you, but I hear about this book all the time on the internet. I’ve always felt like everyone has read and loved it. When I got the chance to check out the ebook from the public library, I jumped on it so I could finally check it off the TBR list.
Ginny Blackstone has a crazy aunt Peg who, after disappearing for a very long time, has passed away. Aunt Peg has sent Ginny a set of thirteen blue letters, each carefully numbered, to be opened in order. Each envelope contains a task that Ginny must complete before she opens the next envelope. The first letter instructs Ginny to buy a plane ticket to London (with cash provided) and pack only was she can stuff in a backpack. Thus, Ginny is off on a European adventure where she doesn’t even know where she’s going, who she’ll meet, or what she’ll do along the way.
Okay. I’ll buy the premise of a seventeen-year-old being allowed to go on such a journey, and a crazy aunt having the time/money/creativity/foresight to create such a journey in the first place. Ginny’s adventure certainly is a fun one, and an adventure I’d like to have taken in high school or college. The whole novel is just wish fulfillment packaged in a cute story. I enjoyed it…really, I did…but it also felt kind of “meh.” I saw a lot of the story coming from a mile away, and I didn’t find Ginny to be a terribly interesting character. Ginny spent all this great time in Europe and only got to see the things someone else wanted her to see. She sort of comes into her own throughout the story, but I kept wanting her to go places and see things that she never got to see.
Of course, it can’t be ignored that the novel does have a sequel. The Last Little Blue Envelope came out this past year, and continues the somewhat-unresolved plots from the first novel. I’m not going to say I won’t read it, since I might, but I’m not rushing out to buy it right now because I justcan’twaittofindoutwhathappensnext.
FINAL GRADE: C+* Overall, it’s a light, fun little book that tries to be deep, but just doesn’t quite get there. That’s okay, but it wasn’t really what I was looking for. Maybe it could be appreciated more by middle and high school students who don’t have much life experience and want to travel vicariously through Ginny. Considering how much buzz I see about this book and Maureen Johnson in general (I did love The Name of the Star), I can safely say that I would feel comfortable putting it in my middle school library and recommending it to kids. At the very least it might teach some European geography or inspire some wanderlust! And speaking of wanderlust, I’d recommend it to adult fans who love wanderlust-y books!
*Bonus points for having a minor GLBT character. GLBT characters always win bonus points with me!
Have you read 13 Little Blue Envelopes? Am I being too harsh?