13 Little Blue Envelopes

13 Little Blue Envelopes

Book - 2005
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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.
Publisher: New York : HarperCollins, 2005.
ISBN: 9780060541439
0060541431
9780060541415
0060541415
Characteristics: 317 pages ;,22 cm.
Alternative Title: Thirteen little blue envelopes

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goddessbeth
Jun 03, 2017

I purchased 13 Little Blue Envelopes years ago, because I loved Maureen Johnson's The Name of the Star (which I need to re-read, and then finish the series). She has this uniquely realistic but charming way of writing about being an American teen in Europe. You can feel that it's based on her real life adventures, because the good and bad bits are never strained or overly intense. In the case of 13 Little Blue Envelopes, it makes for a swift and sweet read.

Ginny is not a protagonist I cared much about- she's a sweet girl, awkward and silent (in a way that, to me, came across as rude), who hasn't properly grieved for her dead aunt yet. I didn't relate or admire, but she was portrayed realistically (if a bit shallowly). Probably the biggest thing that ruffled my feathers is how Ginny wasted her time in Europe. Where Peggy was the essence of joire d'vivre and a bit nutty, Ginny seems to not occupy the space she's in. She experiences little to no sense of wonder or curiosity about the places she's in- she's focused on completed the task ahead of her. She doesn't seem to pine for home, either, so I don't understand her tunnel vision. She's in Europe, for the first time and maybe the last time in her life. When I was 16 and in Europe, I'm sure I wasted some opportunities. BUT I was in awe of everything. I tried the food, I talked to locals, I explored the towns, I did everything I could to experience it. Ginny goes to the place and does the task and opens the next envelope and leaves. WTF, girl?

OK, that beef aside, there is a subtle bit of her changing at the end. It's very subtle. That makes it more realistic, but I was hoping for a bit more. I hope that, off the page, Ginny is becoming more adventurous and taking charge of her future. I hope she's keeping in touch with the Australians and with Keith (although not with the Knapps- yikes). I hope she's learning to be her own person. But mostly....I want to go back to Europe after reading this.

If you're looking for a sweet, contemporary YA that isn't entirely focused on romance or a journey of self-awareness or an adventure, but has elements of all three of those, this is a solid read. It's probably most appropriate for teenagers and young twenty-somethings, more than for bitter old broads like myself. ;)

a
andreareads
Mar 07, 2017

This book was part teen adventure, girl meets boy, part dealing with the loss of a loved one, and the balance didn't work for me. Lessons about the complexity of people and the unpredictability of life came through clearly, though.

krystinathealien Dec 28, 2016

A very nice coming-of-age book that is anything but typical. After all, who gets to jet set across Europe when they're a teenager? This book was a quick read, but it's one I'd love to read again.

l
lauren6
Aug 12, 2015

13 Little Blue Envelopes was definitely a keeper (although too bad I can't keep library books!). This book was about an inexperienced teen backpacking through Europe with the help of some letters that her dead aunt wrote for her. Side note-her aunt was alive when she wrote them. Now I feel super inspired to go to Europe and travel around for a bit without a purpose, just like this girl did. (Donations appreciated?) If you're looking for a fun and flirty read this book is for you!

s
Sharonzy
Jul 12, 2015

Amazing book

Chapel_Hill_RuthL Feb 15, 2015

Not everyone has a loveable mad aunt willing to send them on a whirl-wind cross continent European adventure. Their loss. Virginia “Ginny” Blackstone is a reluctant adventurer as she follows her aunt Peg’s mysterious instructions via (you guessed it) thirteen little blue letters in a surprise trip through Europe. Ginny has fumbles through encounters with English boys (sexy), Roman boys (skeezy), strange Hostel families (crazy) and Australian backpackers (boozy). In between Ginny finds a strange café, a full contact karaoke competition, green slippers and the answers to what her aunt was thinking. For any reader who has done time on trains, park benches, hostel beds this will feel familiar. Ginny is refreshingly candid about her feelings, honestly confused and true-to-life as she traces in the footsteps of her aunt’s letters. Johnson doesn’t break any hearts and there’s an open enough ending to suggest a sequel but with this cast, it’s unlikely readers will mind.

cali2010 Sep 23, 2013

The book 13 Little Blue Envelopes by Maureen Johnson is a book that keeps you in suspense until the very last page. Ginny is a young girl who can't find her way in the world, and her character changes throughout the book, as she gains more confidence. The book is a funny, mysterious one that perfectly captures the essence of all the cities Ginny visits. Ginny meets many friends along the way, and, though the ending was a little boring, I thoroughly enjoyed this book

e
emmadragons
Sep 20, 2013

i recommend this if you love adventure

w
whostolethetardis
Jul 01, 2013

This copy is missing 47 key pages. I am now very confused, and very disappointed.

y
ychi
Jun 22, 2013

One large, obtrusive aspect of this novel is the third-person point-of-view. Third-person limited means the reader is a step removed from the main character's perspective, and in 13 Little Blue Envelopes we feel the entirety of that step. It rather makes Ginny seep with shades of Mary Jane-gray. In other words, she's not very interesting, and neither is her development. This in turn affects the romance, as it simply makes no sense (to this reader) why Keith is attracted to Ginny. As well, the attempt at characterizing Keith by having him infodump his irksome past is transparent and non-effective. The rest of the side characters, with perhaps the exception of Richard, suffer through a brief cameo and then never return. (And who the heck is Miriam, beyond Ginny's apparent BFF?) Now, the above fate mentioned re: side characters might've been more acceptable had this novel felt more like a road trip. As it was, Ginny transports herself with remarkable ease from locale to exotic locale, and since so much focus is laid on Aunt Peg's letters, the sense of discovery in a new place is muted. There are excellently funny and quirky moments, but most of the emotion in 13 Little Blue Envelopes feels less than authentic (e.g. Ginny's eventual anger at her aunt), and the impression I'm left with is that this story matches its cover.

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eryn88_0
Feb 01, 2015

eryn88_0 thinks this title is suitable for 11 years and over

Black_Dog_300 Feb 12, 2013

Black_Dog_300 thinks this title is suitable for 12 years and over

red_ant_656 Jan 03, 2013

red_ant_656 thinks this title is suitable for 11 years and over

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Musiclover19
Aug 13, 2012

Musiclover19 thinks this title is suitable for 11 years and over

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Indigo_Elephant_2
Jul 31, 2012

Indigo_Elephant_2 thinks this title is suitable for 10 years and over

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Blue_Cat_754
Jul 29, 2012

Blue_Cat_754 thinks this title is suitable for between the ages of 11 and 99

Ólive Jun 03, 2012

Ólive thinks this title is suitable for 13 years and over

GenTink Jan 11, 2012

GenTink thinks this title is suitable for 13 years and over

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sunkissedglory
Nov 29, 2011

sunkissedglory thinks this title is suitable for 14 years and over

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KKPGIRL
Jul 04, 2011

KKPGIRL thinks this title is suitable for 12 years and over

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a
andreareads
Mar 07, 2017

Several large pots lined these steps, each containing plants that didn’t exactly look like they had been condemned to death on purpose. They were weak and small but still making an effort.

a
andreareads
Mar 07, 2017

Paris seemed to make good on the promise it made in every photograph of it she’d ever seen. People carried long baguettes. Couples walked hand in hand through asparagus-thin streets. And before long, a round moon hung overhead in an electric blue sky and the Eiffel Tower began to twinkle with a thousand little lights. The air was warm, and as Ginny leaned against the side of the Pont Neuf and watched a dinner boat slide along the Seine under her, she thought that this was a perfect Paris night. But she didn’t feel perfect. She felt alone . . .

thisgrrlreads Nov 19, 2013

"Rule #1: You may bring only what fits in your backpack. Don’t try to fake it with a purse or carry-on." (page 1)

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