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13 Little Blue Envelopes by Maureen Johnson
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13 Little Blue Envelopes (original 2005; edition 2006)

by Maureen Johnson

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
2,594None2,295 (3.8)54
Member:mjspear
Title:13 Little Blue Envelopes
Authors:Maureen Johnson
Info:HarperTeen (2006), Edition: Reissue, Paperback, 368 pages
Collections:Your library
Rating:****
Tags:travel, Europe, romance, artists, London

Work details

13 Little Blue Envelopes by Maureen Johnson (2005)

adventure (69) artists (20) aunts (35) chick lit (36) coming of age (43) contemporary (23) death (42) ebook (26) Europe (137) family (27) fiction (151) grief (27) Kindle (30) letters (69) London (20) love (22) mystery (30) own (21) read (46) read in 2011 (18) realistic fiction (35) romance (68) self-discovery (17) teen (59) teen fiction (20) to-read (51) travel (217) YA (178) young adult (169) young adult fiction (34)
  1. 31
    PS, I Love You by Cecelia Ahern (nookbooks)
    nookbooks: Main character gets series of envelopes with letters, after loved one's death, each one with a task to complete.
  2. 10
    Dash & Lily's Book of Dares by Rachel Cohn (kaledrina)
  3. 00
    Just One Day by Gayle Forman (foggidawn)
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» See also 54 mentions

Showing 1-5 of 177 (next | show all)
I enjoyed this book but from the start there was one thing I couldn't get over. I just kept thinking that this book would have been better in first person narrative from Ginny's perspective. Instead it's third person which bugged me so much.
Other than that it's a great summer read and I enjoyed it and will read the next one. ( )
  bookish92 | Mar 20, 2014 |
Ginny is an average girl. Quiet, shy and as normal as you could be. So when she sets off to London under the direction of her recently deceased runaway aunt, it takes her by surprise. This is completely out of the ordinary, but then again it's right in line with what she should expect from Aunt Peg, who ran off to Europe years earlier. Following the directions of letters in blue envelopes that her aunt wrote before she died, Ginny goes on a tour that starts off in London and takes her across the continent. Along the way, she meets some old friends of her aunt's, some new friends of her own, and a fun and funny English guy, of course.

I loved reading about Ginny in all the different countries; in fact, I was swept away immediately when she first set foot in London. Having spent a semester there, I fondly remember many of the places and sites Ginny saw and visited. It's also great for people who haven't been to any of these places, since Johnson does such a great job at setting the scene. It's a European tour from your bedroom (or backyard, or wherever you're reading it).

Johnson has a very gentle tone to her storytelling, and it was a nice change. Most of the YA I've recently been reading has been, for lack of a better word, tense. But the third-person narration (also a nice change) was unhurried and relaxing. That's not to say nothing exciting happened; it was just written in such a way that lacked urgency, which I found to be a good thing.

All of the characters were great fun to read about, whether it is the mischievous Keith, the nutso artist Mari, or the houseboat-dwelling Knud. I found myself smiling a lot while reading about them all.

Throughout, there is also the sadness Ginny feels about her aunt, who disappeared without so much as a goodbye. Because she was absent so long, her death doesn't quite feel real to Ginny at first, and we see the progression of her grief as she travels around Europe.

I'm looking forward to the sequel, The Last Little Blue Envelope, which will be released on Tuesday. I'm eager to see what happens to Ginny in this last adventure her Aunt Peg will send her on.

Also, for a limited time, 13 Little Blue Envelopes is a free e-book for both Kindleand Nook. I'm guessing it's free for Sony too, but I'm not sure where to look for that link.

Disclosure: I got this e-book for free from bn.com. ( )
  Tahleen | Feb 16, 2014 |
Three months after her free-spirited Aunt Peg passed away, Ginny (age 17) receives a set of 13 envelopes in which Aunt Peg gives her niece a set of instructions that she must follow before she can open the next envelope. Considering that the instructions include traveling to London, then Rome, then Paris, and even more European cities, some of it doesn't seem plausible, but at the same time, it makes the adventure all the more fun--Wouldn't a teen Ginny's age love to be in her shoes? ( )
  WickedWoWestwood | Feb 15, 2014 |
Incredibly touching, unique, and wonderful. I can't wait to see where she goes with this series. ( )
  daatwood | Nov 21, 2013 |
RATING: 1.5 stars (barely).

Let's see if I can piece together some sort of review for this book. But I must warn you now: it's not going to be objective and I suspect it is more of a rant then a review.

Imagine that you're a 17-year-old, completely average and normal American girl who just happens to have a fun but somewhat crazy [favourite] aunt. Said aunt decides suddenly to leave her New York flat and the next thing you (the teenager) and your family know she is dead.

Then an envelope comes for you (annoying little and blue) and it's from your aunt and she wants you to grab the 1000 dollars in the envelope and buy a ticket to London. And you just... go. Why? I don't know. A letter comes for you, out-of-the-blue asking you, a teenager, to go from America to Europe with only a backpack and a set of written instructions.

I'm sure everyone must have realized what the problem with this entire story line is. Yep. I doubt there are many parents out there who would let their teenage daughter just catch a plane to Europe with no money, barely any clothes and no cell phone. What? I mean, what? I just didn't buy it. And the fact thar there was no conversation between the main character (Ginny) and her parents at all didn't make it any better, obviously.

Still this is fiction. This is teen fiction. I was willing to suspend my disbelief at this completely wacky plot line. Maybe something interesting would happen.

But it didn't. The entire book is just about Ginny (Virginia) who is possibly one of the most dull protagonists ever (just like Finley, remember her?) running around all over Europe with a backpack, very little cash and no maps. I could suspend my disbelief no longer; 13 Little Blue Envelopes just didn't work. It was implausible, random and in spite of all the descriptions of European cities, boring.

Any self-respecting person, teenager or not would be annoyed that their aunt was apparently making them travel all over for no discernible or logical reason, but not Ginny. Since she is dull, as I mentioned above and just devoid of any personality whatsoever she meekly followed all the crazy instructions in the various envelopes and I was honestly surprised she didn't get lost and/or wasn't repeatedly robbed or beaten up for the contents of her backpack.
Johnson's descriptions of Europe are flawed, as if it is some sort of magical land where nothing wrong ever happens. Oh, sure, Ginny has some problems but somehow they get solved in the most fantastic and unrealistic ways: like, when she didn't have a place to stay, an American family just happened to find her and invite her to stay with them.

Of course, no teen novel is complete without a romantic interest. Ginny falls for Keith, an English wannabe-actor (at first sight, of course). They keep running into each other (either because they're going the same way or because he decides to show up where she is, at random, as if traveling through Europe costs no money at all) but don't ever know each other very well. But they are still in luurve.

In the end there was no point to the whole exercise. Ginny traveled, met a few people and went back home. She didn't change much (or if she did, we're never told).

Overall: this book was... not very good. It was pointless, dull and random. The main character was not interesting at all, her quest was annoying vapid and unrealistic and in the end nothing changed. The whole setting was too implausible for words. When I compare this book to the recent YA paranormal fiction I read and find the fantasy books more believable than this one then something is definitely wrong. I wouldn't recommend this to anyone, teenagers or adults. There is just too much in this book that doesn't work. ( )
  slayra | Sep 21, 2013 |
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For Kate Schafer, the greatest traveling companion in the world, and a woman who is not afraid to admit that she occasionally can't remember where she lives.
First words
Dear Ginger, I have been a great follower of rules.
As a rule, Ginny Blackstone tried to go unnoticed -- something that was more or less impossible with thirty pounds (she'd weighed it) of purple-and-green backpack hanging from her back.
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0060541431, Paperback)

Inside 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.

Ages 12+

(retrieved from Amazon Mon, 30 Sep 2013 13:33:10 -0400)

(see all 4 descriptions)

When seventeen-year-old Ginny receives a packet of mysterious envelopes from her favorite aunt, she leaves New Jersey to criss-cross Europe on a sort of scavenger hunt that transforms her life.

(summary from another edition)

» see all 3 descriptions

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