13 Little Blue Envelopes by Maureen Johnson

Synopsis from Goodreads:
When Ginny receives thirteen little blue envelopes and instructions to buy a plane ticket to London, she knows something exciting is going to happen. What Ginny doesn’t know is that she will have the adventure of her life and it will change her in more ways than one. Life and love are waiting for her across the Atlantic, and the thirteen little blue envelopes are the key to finding them in this funny, romantic, heartbreaking novel.
Synopsis from Amazon:
Everything about Ginny will change this summer, and it’s all because of 13 little blue envelopes! Ginny, aged 17, is left 13 little blue envelopes by her free-spirited young Aunt Peg. Little does she know just how much they will change her life! / Inside envelope No 1 is money and instructions to buy a plane ticket. / Inside envelope No 2 are directions to a specific London flat / Inside envelope No 3 a note to Ginny says: Find a starving artist. / And because of envelope No 4 Ginny and a man called Keith go to Scotland together, with somewhat disastrous — though utterly romantic — results.
I found this story easy to read and finished it in a day.
Ginny receives the 13 letters from her aunt after the aunt has died.  The family hadn’t seen the ‘Runaway Aunt’ for two years before her death.  Each letter has a task that Ginny must complete before she opens the next one.  The destinations that Ginny must reach and the people she must contact, follow in her aunt’s footsteps.  Her aunt was the sort of person who, when life was beginning to feel settled and comfortable, uprooted herself.
The writing flows and each mini adventure is timed beautifully.  The different environments and characters Ginny meets really made this story a hit for me.  Although I enjoyed the story for these reasons, I really didn’t feel that the adventure changed Ginny very much.  I didn’t feel her grow enough as a character – at the end there are tentative steps to her growing into the possibility of the teen she could be.  Even bearing in mind Ginny is only 17, from the synopsis I expected (and wanted!) her to find her own inner strength (and not think it came from her aunt) and self-belief.
I think the relationship between Ginny and Keith was exactly right for their age.  It was a bit bizarre how some things tied in but I do believe in ‘co-incidence’ so it wasn’t too far to stretch my imagination to accommodate how they dipped in and out of each other’s lives.
I didn’t figure out the job that Richard had at Harrods but am assuming it was quite high up in the hierarchy because of the things he was able to do.  I loved it that Ginny re-visited him – it made the story come full circle for me.  I loved the sense of stability Richard gave to the story and thought it was a nice touch that Ginny was able to assuage his grief with the information her aunt had written in one of the later letters.
I was really upset at what happened to letter #13 and at that point the time was getting quite late – I just had to keep reading to the end – subsequently had quite a late night!
The aunt’s art depicting a journey through her illness was very poignant.  I could empathise with how Ginny and Richard were feeling.  It was great that Maureen Johnston had them sharing this together and Ginny’s human touch to show she understood.
Characters make a story come alive make it a book to remember.  In this instance, it’s not the lead character but the supporting cast that have made it memorable.  I would recommend 13 Little Blue Envelopes to anyone who loves pure escapism.

I read this book on my Kindle after Amanda (reviewer One More Page) tweeted a deal that has expired.  I purchased it from Amazon.

13 Little Blue Envelopes was published by HarperCollins e-books (6 Oct 2009).



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