After the early death of her adventurous (and eccentric) Aunt Peg, Ginny embarks on a trans-Atlantic romp that brings her from London to Greece, Rome, Copenhagen (and back again) by way of instructions in thirteen envelopes written by Peg to recreate her own travels through Europe. Worried that her beloved niece has been too quiet and shy for far too long, Peg develops the envelope adventure as a way to bring Ginny to a totally new place — and give her the ride of her life — after she is no longer there to guide her into adulthood.
I really enjoyed Maureen Johnson’s 13 Little Blue Envelopes, though I felt as though there was a disconnect between Ginny and everyone around her. Because the book was told in third person and we weren’t privy to Ginny’s private thoughts, the book seemed to amble along and keep us totally separate from our main character. She seemed numb — someone emotionally stunted. And after she meets boisterous and talented actor Keith in London, we only find out she’s somehow interested in him through a letter she writes to her best friend . . . a person we never actually meet. It was just a whole lot of telling and not enough showing for my taste. At the end of the novel, I still felt like I didn’t really knew Ginny at all.
But that being said, I can’t say I didn’t like this book . . . I really did. I loved the glimpses of European cities, especially the ones I’ve visited. Y’all know me well enough to be sure my little heart was palpitating at Ginny’s adventures in England and the friendship she strikes up with Richard, a man from Peg’s past. Aunt Peg’s letters were really interesting, and I found myself reading compulsively to see where they would guide her next. The characters she met along the way were fun.
This was definitely an easy read — I finished it fast. Perfect for a car or plane ride. I would have liked a little more resolution at the end of the novel — what happened with the love interest? that was just it? and what’s going to happen to Ginny now? — but my fun reading about the international locations saved it for me.
3.75 out of 5!