Wednesday, May 11, 2011

13 Little Blue Envelopes by Maureen Johnson

Published: October 1, 2006 by HarperTeen
Received: bought from Barnes & Noble
When Ginny receives thirteen little blue envelopes and instructions to buy a plane ticket to London, she knows something exciting is going to happen. What Ginny doesn't know is that she will have the adventure of her life and it will change her in more ways than one. Life and love are waiting for her across the Atlantic, and the thirteen little blue envelopes are the key to finding them in this funny, romantic, heartbreaking novel. {taken from}

When I first heard about this novel the first thing that came to mind: Adventure!  Here's a girl who has an amazing, yet terrifyingly exciting task ahead of her.  She has been given 13 envelopes to open on her quest across Europe by her Aunt who was the epitome of living every day as an adventure.  I say was because Ginny's Aunt has passed away, and Ginny will soon realize that it's more about knowing the person her Aunt was; rather than accomplishing each new task that lays inside each little blue envelope.

The story takes Ginny from New York, to London, to Paris, across the continent to places like Amsterdam and Greece, and back to London.  It is here in London that Ginny meets the man for whom her Aunt built a relationship with when she lived there during her final days.  It is London that also gives her the most glimpses inside her Aunt's world full of art, adventure, spontaneity, and the burdens that surrounded living a life this way.  London also introduced Ginny to Keith, an English student full of life and fun.  Each new envelope unearths things about her Aunt she didn't know before.

Though the adventures that Ginny encountered were fun to read about; it was the meaning behind them that I wanted to know the most about.  I felt that some things were not relevant to the story, and just like Ginny I felt confused as to why her Aunt would send her there.  The build up to the last few envelopes was a bit of a let down for me as well.  I was wanting something a little more dramatic.  I also found Ginny's character to be a bit unbelievable at times too.  She is described as a shy, quiet girl whose parents have always had a strong hold over her life so that her Aunt did not have a negative influence on her.  Yet here she is, still a young child, running across Europe by herself.  I felt that the story contradicted the character a bit.

I was also disappointed in the relationship with Keith.  I kept waiting for something extraordinary to happen, yet that fell flat for me as well.  Perhaps all my questions will be answered in the sequel The Last Little Blue Envelope.  Maureen Johnson may have written this first novel in anticipation of what's to come next.  I sure hope so, because I closed the book needing more -- but not in the way I usually do from a story.  It literally ended very incomplete to me.  Though there are a few plot holes and I did not always agree with the characterization, over all the story was an enjoyable read.  I will be picking up it's sequel and plan to continue with Ginny's story and that very last envelope that left me hanging.



  1. That is basically what a fellow teacher said. Thanks for the review.

  2. i'm hearing you 100%

    i felt the exact same way. it was fun and quirky but also somehow dull and lingering in places. plus ginny herself was not the most engaging character. Looking forward to seeing what you think ot the sequel though (i am undecided whether i will read it or not :/ )

  3. I have her a lot of mixed reviews about this one. I have had it sitting on my shelf for a while because I was worried about whether or not I would enjoy it. I will probably give it a shot eventually. Thanks for the review!

  4. Remember how you asked me on FB how I was liking it and I said I used to love it, but I couldn't get into it this time. Yeah... I never finished it this time around, so it is going to stay in my un-reviewed pile for a while. My biggest motivation was because I wanted to read the sequel ( I remember being very unsatisfied with the ending the first time I read it) but I don't even care anymore.

  5. Agreed, agreed, agreed. The story just didn't do it for me and I failed to connect with Ginny, which is a deal-breaker for me right there. Thanks for being honest G :)

  6. I felt the exact same way! My little sister read the book and loved it but I did not. Ginny was not a believable character and the running all over Europe me gusta.

  7. Aw man! I actually got this book from Tara up there and I have not read it yet. I'm sad to know that you were a little disappointed by it :( Great, honest review though! Well, there's always Shift, right? ;)

  8. I really liked this one, but I was more disappointed by the second one. If you want I can tell you why, buy it also might spoil it, lol. And of course, you can't like every book!

  9. I think it was the third person that made me feel so disconnected to Ginny, but I agree--it was enjoyable. I hope you do pick up the sequel. I wasn't expecting much, but I ended up liking it SO much better. The adventure is more amped and I believe all the plot holes are covered. The last even unexpectedly made me tear up! Haha. Anyways, I appreciate your review :)

  10. I had this book on my tbr pile for the longest and I finally just gave it away, I guess I wasn't really missing much. Thanks for your honest review Ginger, I did hear that the second one is better. =)

  11. I have this on my Nook, but I haven't had a chance to read it it! I'm sorry it didn't work out for you!

    Also, I see you are reading Shift! Yay! I can't wait to see what you think about it :D


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