13 Little Blue Envelopes by Maureen Johnson
Young Adult Fiction – Harper Teen 2006
This is one of those books that I thought I was just destined to fall in love with. Written by Maureen Johnson? Check. I find her hilarious, witty and meeting her in person was AWESOME. Set mostly in Europe? Um hello, you do know me, right? Main character gets to wander around Europe by on orders from envelopes that her deceased Aunt has left her. SOUNDS LIKE A CRAZY FUN ADVENTURE.. A promise of some romance in the description? Ohh yeahhh. SIGN ME UP.
But alas, this wasn’t the new favorite I thought it would be to be honest. And it’s one of those times where I hate myself for not wanting to declare epic, amazing, favorite book status on this one. We were SO meant to be. Now don’t get me wrong, I didn’t dislike it by any means. I really did LIKE it. It was an enjoyable read that had me romping around Europe with Ginny on this crazy adventure full of twists and turns…brought to you by her zany Aunt Peggy whom I actually ended up understanding a little bit. I could picture her persona so perfectly — flighty, zany and just never able to settle down. I actually found myself feeling bad for her rather than mad at her for just up and leaving. It’s just the kind of person she was. Some people can be content where they are and some just need changes of paces and new adventures. I get it. I feel like that a lot. Do I think it was a shitty thing to do to your family? Yes. She still irked me a little bit.
I don’t know why this book didn’t strike that chord with me like it should have. I don’t know if I was expecting it to be hysterical like Maureen herself or if it had been hyped as one of those must read YA books It felt like of like my first kiss. I was expecting fireworks and a feeling of being profoundly changed. After it was over, I just was glad I did it but didn’t feel that overwhelming, powerful feeling like I thought I would. I feel like maybe I had such high expectations of it that it ended up just being a GOOD read for me. I just never felt like I connected sometimes with Ginny which should have happened more than it did. At some points I just wasn’t understanding what Aunt Peggy was trying to teach Ginny with all these different tasks…but I think that was probably the feeling MJ wanted you to feel. But sometimes I just felt lost on the journey and didn’t understand some of the choices that were made.
That being said, there were a lot of really good things that did make this book so enjoyable and fun for me. Maureen Johnson writes a really wonderful contemporary novel.. I found some of the secondary characters to be pretty interesting despite the fact we saw most of them just for a fragment of time as Ginny completed her journey. I thought the journey was interesting and full of twists that actually did surprise me. I did like the changes that Ginny went through throughout the course of the book. I found them to be realistic considering how much responsibility her aunt had given her and the fact that she really did a lot of this on her own. I think Maureen balanced the physical and self journey well. I really did find myself feeling a myriad of emotions but none that really connected me too much to Ginny…which might not make sense but that’s the best way I can explain it. Maybe I just knew what I was supposed to feel for someone in her position.
The Final Thought: While I certainly wasn’t blown away by it like everyone else (which makes me want to hang my head in shame because, dammit, this book and I were MEANT to be), I did enjoy it. There were a lot of really great things about this book but in the end I didn’t feel too much of an impact or connection with Ginny on that level I suspect most that loved this book did. I understood people like her — shy, not knowing what they are capable of — and so I could see how this journey could have molded a person like her and I loved seeing that…but really I didn’t get that BFF feeling from Ginny like you are supposed to get. At the end of the day — I’m glad I read a Maureen Johnson novel finally, thought it was a good read and will probably pick up The Last Little Blue Envelope at some point. I just can’t claim that it was a WOW kind of book for me..just good and pretty enjoyable.
*Will post my review on a Post-It later…it’s on my home computer and I’m on lunch break at work*