13 Little Blue Envelopes is a charming novel by Maureen Johnson, about a seventeen year old girl named Ginny. Her favorite aunt has passed away and has left behind a collection of...well, you probably guessed it...13 little blue envelopes. Each envelope contains a letter with instructions for Ginny to follow, and each of the instructions propels her on an elaborate adventure that takes her all across Europe.
At first, the fact that Ginny was traveling all across Europe following the whim of her crazy aunt, was a tough pill for me to swallow. I have seen the movie Taken and there is no way in hell that I would ever let my teenage daughter travel around Europe with no definite plan in place!!! NO. WAY. IN. HELL!!!
One of the first places that Ginny has to go when she arrives in London (her first destination) is the home of this man named Richard, who turns out to be a friend of Peg's. When Ginny gets there, Richard is almost on his way out the door to go to work. The letter had told Ginny, that in case no one answered the door immediately, she was to stay there and continue knocking until someone finally did answered. What if she had missed him? What if he had already left for work? She would have been left sitting on his doorstep for hours!!!
So, again, like I said, it took me a while to get passed the absurdity of this trip Ginny was taking, but when I did there really was a moving story underneath it all.
Peg passed away from a brain tumor, and even though she was very close to Ginny, in the years leading up to her passing she had pulled away from her family. Peg reaches out to Ginny through this trip and uses her letters to help explain who she really was to Ginny. To bond herself to Ginny and to open up Ginny's world.
That was the part of the story that I was able to connect to.
My grandfather died in 2007 and I still miss him deeply. He loved to travel. He was in the Air Force so he already traveled a lot, but he also traveled on his own for pleasure. My grandfather was born here, in Oklahoma, but both of his parents were born in Germany and that was one of his favorite places in the world. In May of 1986 he took a trip to Germany and at each of the restaurants that he visited he kept a coaster and wrote on it what he had ordered. I got to keep them when we cleaned out his office and I have always thought it would be amazing to go to Germany and go to one of those restaurants and order the same meal that he had.
Of course, as soon as I was able to make that connection to the book, Maureen Johnson had me! By the end of the novel she almost had me in tears...almost!
I didn't particularly love the characters. Except for Richard, I did love Richard! Keith, the main love interest, was fine. He was likable and all, but not all together that charming. I did agree with him on his observations of aunt Peg being a little crazy. And as much as I did think that aunt Peg was crazy and slightly selfish, I also desperately want to be her someday! I can't wait until my little sister starts popping out some babies so that I can be the crazy aunt for my nephews and nieces!
The main character, Ginny, was nice and agreeable, and I guess I liked her. I cared about what happened for her and I wanted to make sure she got home safely. But for some reason or another, I didn't instantly attach to her. Now that it is over, I do care enough to want to read the sequel, but I think that is mostly because my friend Kate told me that she likes it better then the first one. So I am willing to give it a shot.
I am going to give 13 Little Blue Envelopes an abduction rating of...
However, I also want to say that this is only my second Maureen Johnson book to read, but so far I love that she writes about girls who are independent, strong, and self-sufficient. It is nice that she promotes those qualities in young girls.