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by Maureen Johnson
Download 13 Little Blue Envelopes fb2
Literature & Fiction
  • Author:
    Maureen Johnson
  • ISBN:
  • ISBN13:
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  • Publisher:
    HarperCollins Children's Books; Export ed and exclusive to Waterstone's in the UK edition (July 1, 2009)
  • Pages:
    317 pages
  • Subcategory:
    Literature & Fiction
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  • FB2 format
    1174 kb
  • ePUB format
    1670 kb
  • DJVU format
    1230 kb
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13 Little Blue Envelopes

This isn't my first time reading this, and I liked it as much this reading as I did the last. It was different reading it as an adult versus a teenager though because as a parent, I kept wondering why Ginny was allowed to travel without a chaperone. The focus of the story was on Ginny's adventures and the relationship between her crazy aunt and those around her, but it was still shocking to me how little was said about the rest of her family. I don't even remember who Ginny's aunt was actually related to (Ginny's mom, I believe, but again, I'm not positive. It was something that was only mentioned once near the beginning of the book, and then never mentioned again.) I had to wonder what kind of relationship Ginny had with her parents that they would agree to this crazy traveling scheme, and why she never thought about them during her travels. She made a point of contacting her best friend once in an internet cafe, but not her parents? It was strange to me. Still, I loved the book and how Ginny found herself new friends and companions as they traveled together.
I loved this book! But what's not to love? It had everything; tragedy, triumph, romance, crime, action, adventure, travel and it was down right fun.

Ginny is our main character. She is not a risk taker by any means. Her Aunt Peg has died and she has been given an envelope with some cash, a list of rules and a quest to fulfill. She has left for Ginny some envelopes. They are numbered sequentially and the number of the count is 13. Thou shall not count to 12, unless thereby thou proceed to 13. 14 is right out. Sorry. Coincidentally, the envelopes are also all blue...and on the small size, hence the title of the book.

Now Ginny could cheat and open all the envelopes and read them, but Aunt Peg's rules were very specific. She had a plan and the envelopes were not to be read except in order and at the ordained location or time frame. Ginny never having been anywhere, is understandably nervous about undertaking this trip.

She really has no idea what to expect not having seen her aunt in a long time, never even knowing she was sick and again, she's not a risk taker, but she undertakes the journey and follows her aunt's instructions. She is to take one backpack only and only what will fit in the backpack. She is to only take the money her aunt left her. She is to take no travel books and nothing to record her journey in. And she is not allowed to use phone, computer, camera, Internet or any other electronic devices or tools. And she cannot contact anyone back in the States. Oh yeah! She's going to England!!!

But alone is an intimidating prospect, especially for a 17 year old who has never been out of the country. I personally would have reveled in the experience, but I have family from the UK and became obsessed from an early age. I also did do just that. I went off to England by myself, but I was 29 at the time. Got off the plane, rented a car and just drove for 2 1/2 weeks. It was quite an adventure, but I have a travelling heart.

But back to our story. Aunt Peg has very explicit instructions for Ginny. She has to go find some strange man who is expecting her and she is going to stay with him while in England. But she has other things she has to do as well, like find an artistic stranger and support their artistic vision with 500 pounds. She also has to go find some artist in Scotland Aunt Peg was friends with.

If you didn't guess before, Aunt Peg was what we call a unique individual. Some might say flighty. She gave up the rat race and just went off to pursue her dreams and follow along wherever the wind would take her. Eccentric? Perhaps, probably. A hippie? Definitely, but she lived each day of her life to the fullest and she was trying to teach Ginny how to do the same.

So Ginny follows the instructions in the envelopes to the letter, ends up traveling all over Europe in some less than ideal circumstances at times and has the time of her life. Talk about life changing events. Well, this one is one of the big ones. Hello, life!

If you think you would enjoy a story about a girl who ends up finding herself on the back roads of Europe, this would probably be a good book for you. So, go out there and grab that book by the cover and don't stop reading until the end. You won't be sorry!
Wooden Purple Romeo
While this is classified as a young adult novel, it translates well to adults also.
A shy young girl, grieving for her recently deceased aunt, finds herself on an epic quest across Europe while following the instructions left for her in 13 envelopes.
Charming, addictive and worthwhile!
I read this book because 1) it was on sale and 2) Maureen Johnson is one of my favorite people to follow on Twitter. I love her to pieces on social media, so it makes sense that I would love her books.

It turns out that's not quite the case. Not that this is a bad book, it's just not particularly good. It's a solid "meh".

The premise is that this girl (Virginia/Ginny) has just found out that her eccentric, unreliable artist aunt has just died of brain cancer while touring Europe and left Ginny with 13 blue envelopes. Each envelope contains instructions and Ginny can only open them in certain times and places. Each letter has an assignment like "Find that cafe in Paris that I lived in for a month" and "Ask out an Italian boy". Once she has completed an assignment, she can open the next envelope.

Ginny is also not allowed to take along any maps, guidebooks, or any kind of electronics (including cell phone, camera, and computer) and she is forbidden electronic communication with anyone in America. Only letters and postcards to let the family know she's still alive are permitted. She does manage to find ways around some of these rules, and at one point she flat out breaks one of them, but for the most part I am in favor of these rules.

Ginny (16-years-old) is shy and introverted and has never been away from home on her own before, so to say that this experience is new for her is an understatement. In that sense, this is largely a coming-of-age story as Ginny explores the world and meets all sorts of people and gets to know herself better. She discovers that she can do fun and exciting things without her aunt, and at the same time, she comes to terms with her aunt's death. Despite the slow death that is brain cancer, Aunt Peg was in Europe and out of contact with her family when she got sick, so her poor family never even knew she was sick until she was already gone. One minute she was fine, then she left with no explanation and no forwarding address, then they got notice that she had passed and that they should go to the airport to pick up her remains.

The letters were also kind of Aunt Peg's way of saying good-bye to Ginny. In the letters, she got to tell Ginny about her travels and let Ginny experience parts of them for herself. She also told Ginny things that she never told anyone else, and I think that probably helped her cope with what was coming.

I know that Maureen Johnson has done some traveling. I don't know how extensive, but I do know that she did an excellent job of immersing the reader into every place that Ginny went. She boiled down each city to its most basic elements and presented them to the reader. In doing so, she was able to transport the reader all over Europe with Ginny, without taking away from the story. It was really quite brilliant.