Book Review: 13 Little Blue Envelopes by Maureen Johnson

Guess what! I sat down and wrote out all the books that I still need to write reviews on and realized that I am terribly behind! So that means you get a Sunday review. And probably a few extra reviews throughout the week.

13 little blue envelopes

This follows the tradition of Maureen Johnson covers where girls have no eyes. Or upper faces.

Today’s review is one of my favorite Maureen Johnson books, 13 Little Blue Envelopes. Actually, I have to say that Maureen Johnson is one of my favorite authors, not just because her books are good, but because she is a really fun person. If you don’t already, go follow her on Twitter. It will make your life just a little bit better.

Anyway, back to the review. The book follows the story of Ginny, a teenage girl who is left with a package from her Aunt Peg. Inside the package are thirteen handmade blue envelopes, each with a picture drawn on it.  Inside each envelope is a letter from her aunt with certain instructions – like hop on a plane and fly to London.

It should be said that Aunt Peg has recently died and these letters are basically her speaking from the grave. And that’s not a spoiler. You find that out in the first chapter.

So Ginny follows the letters, which take her on a whirlwind adventure through Europe, from London to Amsterdam to Greece. Each envelope gives Ginny a challenge, something to accomplish, but also gives a glimpse into her aunt’s life. Let’s just say that there was a lot that Ginny didn’t know about Peg, despite their close relationship.

It’s this relationship that really makes the book interesting. Ginny admit that she is a boring, live-by-the-rules kind of person. This is the polar opposite of Peg. Peg is an artist who goes from place to place, wherever her whims take her. Ginny loved spending time with Peg because she felt like it made her a more interesting person. As much as Peg’s life mystifies Ginny, Ginny would be terrified to live like Peg. With the thirteen envelopes, Peg is encouraging Ginny to break out of her shell by sending her on an adventure where she is forced to survive on her wits.

The challenges range in scope, from asking Ginny to donate money to a struggling artist (she chooses Keith, the author of Starbucks: The Musical) to having her stay in a hostel with a whole bunch of strangers. I think what makes this book so exciting is that you never know what Peg will be asking next. It also makes me wish that I had a relative who would send me on an adventure backpacking through Europe. Of course, in this context, that means that one of my aunts would have die, which would be terrible. So never mind.

This book is a lot of fun, and heartwarming as well. It’s also a quick read, so you don’t even have to devote a huge chunk of time to it. Go off on an adventure with Ginny!

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