I read The Name of the Star, by Maureen Johnson for my awesome unofficial YA Book Club and loved it, so I decided to try out the other Maureen Johnson novel I kept coming across: 13 Little Blue Envelopes. Sidenote, everytime I hear MJ's name, I think of Idina Menzel's character in Rent.
|I despise this cover.|
The premise of the novel is a teenage girl, Ginny, taking a whirlwind tour of Europe. The catch is that she's following orders from the 13 letters her whimsical artist aunt wrote for her before dying of cancer. Ginny receives 13 little blue envelopes with instructions on how she is supposed to travel Europe with just a backpack and absolutely no technological contact with people back home. On the way, she learns about her aunt and of course, herself.
Is it cheesey? Yes. In a typical way? No. Ginny is naturally a shy, awkward girl whom boys never look at and has no clue what she wants in life. That doesn't go away by the end of the novel. Sure she meets a guy, but by the novel's conclusion, they aren't making plans to spend the rest of their lives together. I like that. Some of the scenes are ridiculous, like the Italian boy taking Ginny back to his sister's place to get her drunk off of a sip of wine and try to sleep with her, but I get that they're supposed to assert her growing independence.
13 Little Blue Envelopes is cute and very funny, even during the emotional chapters when Ginny copes with the sadness and frustration over her aunt's death. I'd definitely recommend it to someone looking for a quick, relaxing read with some substance, but not super deep what-is-the-meaning-of-life-? substance.