13 Little Blue Envelopes by Maureen Johnson is a sensational summer read! This quirky novel is sure to bring out the adventurous side in everyone.
One day Ginny, a New Jersey native, gets a letter from her Aunt Peg (who died three months ago) containing $1,000 and instructions for her to buy a backpack and a plane ticket to London, then go to a Chinese restaurant in New York to pick up envelope 2.
The instructions for what to bring along to the UK are as follows:
Rule #1: You may bring only what fits in your backpack. Don’t try to fake it out with a purse or a carry-on.
Rule #2: You may not bring guidebooks, phrase books, or any kind of foreign language aid. And no journals.
Rule #3: You cannot bring extra money or credit/debit cards, traveler’s checks, etc. I’ll take care of all that.
Rule #4: No electronic crutches. This means no laptop, no cell phone, no music, and no camera. You can’t call home or communicate with people in the U.S. by Internet or telephone. Postcards and letters are acceptable and encouraged.
Now all Ginny has to do is pick up envelope 2, go to London, and see what kind of adventure her (dead) whirlwind aunt has in store for her over the summer vacation. Of course it was hell trying to convince her parents to let her do this, not to mention that it goes against everything well-organized, practical Ginny stands for. But it’s her aunt, and the promise of these 13 little blue envelopes is the last thing on earth Ginny has of her. Thus, she strikes of for the UK.
The premise of this entire Teen novel is for Ginny to travel around the UK in search of these envelopes that her aunt has left for her. With each new envelope comes a new set of instructions: Places to go, people to find, things to do.
Along her journey, the envelopes send Ginny to England, Scotland, Italy, France, the Netherlands, Denmark, and Greece, giving her whacky activities to complete throughout her voyage.
And of course, Ginny meets a peculiar artist along the way that she can’t stop thinking about, and who appears throughout her expedition. To give you a taste of the adorableness of this book, here is a quote from a letter she sends to her best friend back home.
“Keith was HERE. In PARIS. And HE FOUND ME. I know it sounds impossible, but it’s true, and it’s really not that magical of an explanation. But what matters is that we made out in a graveyard and slept on a park bench.”
This entire novel is not only charming, and adventurous, but it also gives you a window to the soul of a young girl dealing with grief for the first time. I cannot say enough good things about this tale. I give it five stars!
*And it does have an open ending, but thankfully she decided to go ahead and write a sequel. The Last Little Blue Envelope is equally awesome! 🙂