Feb 5, 2013

13 Little Blue Envelopes by Maureen Johnson review

13 Little Blue Envelopes coverInside little blue envelope 1 are $1,000 and instructions to buy a plane ticket.

In envelope 2 are directions to a specific London flat.

The note in envelope 3 tells Ginny: Find a starving artist.

Because of envelope 4, Ginny and a playwright/thief/ bloke-about-town called Keith go to Scotland together, with somewhat disastrous-though utterly romantic-results. But will she ever see him again?

Everything about Ginny will change this summer, and it's all because of the 13 little blue envelopes.

From Goodreads

Ginny wasn't sure of anything when it came to her runaway Aunt Peg. Sure she was quirky and most definitely an artist, but cryptic wasn't usually her MO. But here Ginny is, under direct orders of the first of 13 little blue envelopes on the trip of a lifetime. Having secured her parents' permission, Ginny sets off to London, on her own, with no real idea what she's getting herself into.

Denied any outside, electronic communication and extra funding, Ginny finds herself on a strange Englishman's doorstep where her Aunt apparently lived during her final few months. Did I forget to mention that Aunt Peg was no longer with us? Whatever Ginny is supposed to get out of this adventure she must do it on her own, as instructed.

Some of the instructions are strange, some are outlandish, and some are downright dangerous. Out of all the instructions, one thing never mentioned was what to do if the plan goes awry? What if you fall in love or heaven forbid, what if you just don't want to follow the plan? Ginny learns all of this and more.

This was a fun little book. It takes a little bit to build up as we don't start out with all the information. Even as you read, you're still learning the  basics that you normally pick up in the first chapter or two of any other book. I think that is part of this book's charm. The fact that the reader is just as lost and confused, taking a journey with, the main character.

It was entertaining to watch Ginny traipse all over Europe with no clue as to where or why she would be anywhere at any one time. The instructions in the envelopes were sometimes general and sometimes specific so she really had no idea what to expect each time she got to open one. She had unique experiences that no one could create on their own had they not experienced them themselves. Ginny was being guided by Aunt Peg's own life adventure while being told to find her own.

The plot and all the supporting characters really made this an interesting book. Between starving artists, big wigs at large corporate companies, and American tourist families, there was never a lack of diversity among the interactions. That being said, I found it quite unfortunate that there was a sexual assault mixed into all this, especially since it had to happen in Italy. I think that was a bit over the top and unnecessary, if not a bit presumptuous. I may be a bit sensitive about these types of things, but I am certainly more aware of them after reading Maggie Stiefvater's post about the pervasiveness of literary rape (in all genres).

Other than that this was a fine book. Not my favorite and certainly not the worst. It was a happy medium that satiated my wanderlust-filled heart. I understand there is a sequel called The Last Little Blue Envelope. I haven't decided whether I actually want to read it or not. Thoughts?


Bookworm1858 said...

This was my first introduction to Maureen Johnson's writing and while I liked it, I didn't love it. However I do recommend her Shades of London series-I am really enjoying it!

loreleimarsh said...

Ooo, thank you! As you can see I didn't love it either, but the writing was quite well done. I'll be sure to check out that series.