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13 Little Blue Envelopes – Maureen Johnson

“Today’s game is ‘I live in London.’ Notice that I have included $1000 in cash in this envelope. This is for a passport, a one-way ticket from New York to London and a backpack. (keep a few bucks for a cab to the airport.)


Upon booking the ticket, packing the backpack, and hugging everyone goodbye, I want you to go to New York City. Specifically, I want you to go to 4th Noodle, the Chinese restaurant under my old apartment. Something Is waiting there for you. Go to the airport right from there.


You will be gone for several weeks, and you will be travelling in foreign lands.”

Ginny’s aunt has passed away, and she didn’t even know her aunt was ill. Two years after her aunt ups and leaves New York without letting anyone know where she was going or who with Ginny’s family get a phone call. Her aunt developed a serious illness, she didn’t tell her family, she died in London and left it to some guy called Richard to let the family know and to send Ginny a letter.
The letter was in a little blue envelope, marked as number one. Her aunt was sending her on her own adventure, her own little sightseeing. Following the guidelines of her aunts first letter she goes to New York to find that there are 12 more little blue envelopes and according to the instructions she is to open them one at a time, do whatever it says and not open the next until she’s done the previous task.  Ginny goes on an adventure, one envelope at a time and experiences things she never thought she would.
13 Little blue envelopes has an air of confusion to it. Ginny doesn’t know where she’s going or why and the trips her aunt sends her on seem rather pointless at first. I liked the sound of Ginny’s Aunt Peg, she sounds like such a free spirit and a magical person to be around. Ginny is more like her mother, who sounds like the opposite of Peg completely. At first I thought that the trip was Pegs way of opening Ginny up to the world, you can tell Ginny is open to the free spirited way of life but is to scared to try it but it seems as the story goes on there’s more to it than that.
Usually I feel more connected to the characters when the books written from the perspective of the character themselves. This wasn’t told from Ginny’s point of view, but it worked for me, I could feel Pegs presence in the places Ginny visited, I could tell what she would have been like in them from her letters but at the same time I could tell that Ginny was so scared and out of her depth.
I was petty jealous when I was reading this book too, saving money and just getting up and going travelling is one thing I think everyone has thought about doing at one point and the one thing very few people actually do. I for one have wanted to go travelling for years, but I have never had enough money, enough confidence, enough push. Ginny gets this push from her Aunt, she doesn’t really have a choice and probably never thought about doing it, especially not alone, but wants to fulfil her Aunts wishes, and I think wants some closure after her Aunts death, so she goes.
Ginny gets overwhelmed and scared, as any 17 year old travelling Europe would probably get. I think the people she meets along the way are so powerful and teach her so much though; some of them are the types of characters that would really stick with you, especially Keith and I think Olivia, I really got something from Olivia.
I would recommend this book, it’s a good coming of age, getting used to a situation kinda story, and even though I was a bit jealous of Ginny she was a really interesting character to follow around Europe. I reckon I probably would have enjoyed it so much more (not that I didn’t!) if I had read it when I was younger myself, at 22 I think I just feel jealousy! Haha. This doesn’t stop me from wanting to read the next book of the series though, I know Maureen Johnson is bringing out The Last Little Blue Envelope sometime soon, and I really hope we see more of Keith, and hopefully meet Mariam, Ginny’s best friend from home, in it! 

2 Comments

  • Clover

    Oh I really loved this one! I can’t wait for the sequel as well. I think this may have been the first book of Maureen Johnson’s that I read and now she’s one of my firm favourites!

  • Raimy-rawr

    I am really gunna have to read some more of hers! I loved the idea but I did kinda just keep thinking “I wanna do that!!” and being jealous cos its too late for me to chuck everything and run off to europe… bills to pay, job to do and all that lol.
    I really like the sound of devilish by her too, I think I’m gunna see if I can get that one next!

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