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13 Little Blue Envelopes ~ Maureen Johnson

August 8, 2011


Genre: Young Adult Fiction
Publisher: HarperTeen
336 pages
ISBN: 9780060541415
Source: Book Store

Highschool is hard enough without random letters arriving from eccentric (albeit well-loved) aunts. Seventeen-year-old Ginny knows this but does she really? She’s about to find out as a letter arrives from her long-lost, “artsy” Aunt Peg, sending her on a mission to end all missions. Turns out that the first letter is only one of a set, sending her on a whirlwind trip through Europe.

Doesn’t sound too bad, right? Well, she does have a few restrictions. Along with some extra cash and a few clues, Ginny has been sent some pretty strict rules via her benefactor:

Right, so, these aren’t exactly things that would encourage a normal Jersey teen to drop everything and run but Ginny takes her assignment seriously. She is soon on her way and what a fun way it is! Though there are dark shadows and snake pits, the whole thing just makes the reader want to quit her day job and grab a Euro rail pass. True to what I can remember from the last time I read a Maureen Johnson creation, this is a typical quirky and funny read with sparks of love but not totally bogged down in romance. The adventure, itself, is true enough to my own travel adventures with lost luggage, wet clothes but, you know, generally a good time.

The only thing I found lacking wasn’t so much terrible but simply, well, that: lacking. I think that I was longing for a little bit more at the beginning in terms of character set up.  The whole trip turns out to be so life changing and Big with a capital B, that I felt there could have been a bit more in terms of setting up Ginny’s personality prior to the trip. We get the impression, a few times, that she is fairly shy but there’s not much in way of showing that before the trip begins. It’s mostly realized in retrospect and not to a deep degree. Again, it’s the only thing that I felt was lacking and it wasn’t distracting enough to put me off completely.

Over all, it was an adorable book. I also read it on my own little whirlwind trip (though it was a short trip with no spicy European boys)  so I had the added benefit of pretending that my Atlanta-Boston flight was, perhaps going somewhere a bit more extravagant. I’ll probably wait until the sequel is out in paperback but I might get impatient and break down.

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9 Comments leave one →
  1. August 8, 2011 6:49 am

    My thing I found lacking in this book was the fact that such a young girl was travelling around Europe without being in contact with any parents etc. Once I let that go I enjoyed this a lot.

    • August 8, 2011 7:01 am

      Yes! Oh, I definitely had to let go of THAT several times. I think, often with YA books, I have to let go of my “Where is the HECK are parents?!” questions. Though, yes, this one takes the cake in that department!

  2. August 8, 2011 9:03 am

    There probably wasn’t as much set up because it’s a YA book. It still sounds like a fun book!

    • August 8, 2011 11:51 am

      Yeah, though I think some YA books do a good job of really getting into back stories. I think my favorite, right now, for emotional build up is Libba Bray. She does a fantastic job and I wish she’d branch out and write some adult stuff, too!

  3. August 8, 2011 12:29 pm

    I have read a few good reviews of this one and the sequel and think it sounds like fun. Though the character development is not top notch, I can imagine that all the adventures would probably keep me very entertained. I am glad that you mostly liked this one and am thinking about picking it up when I can. Great review on this one!

  4. Veens permalink
    August 9, 2011 12:27 pm

    I have this one with me, and I am glad this is good because I really wanted to read it 🙂

  5. August 9, 2011 9:18 pm

    I want someone to send ME a letter like that!!!

  6. August 11, 2011 12:14 am

    I’ve yet to read a Maureen Johnson book, although I like her writing (I read her blog and twitter, why haven’t I picked up a book yet?!). I think I’d enjoy this (reminding myself to suspend the disbelief). Perhaps I’ll pick it up for our teen, giving me the excuse to read it, too.

  7. August 12, 2011 12:40 pm

    I just read this book recently and enjoyed it. I am looking forward to the sequel!

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