Thirteen Little Blue Envelopes

Thirteen Little Blue Envelopes by Maureen Johnson

Inside little blue envelope 1 are $1,000 and instructions to buy a plane ticket.

In envelope 2 are directions to a specific London flat.

The note in envelope 3 tells Ginny: Find a starving artist.

Because of envelope 4, Ginny and a playwright/thief/ bloke–about–town called Keith go to Scotland together, with somewhat disastrous–though utterly romantic–results. But will she ever see him again?

Everything about Ginny will change this summer, and it’s all because of the 13 little blue envelopes. (Goodreads)

The Story: Ginny’s Aunt Peg is sending her on an adventure that will take her all the way to Europe—London to be exact.  The money is provided, with the teensiest bit of direction (no phones, no computers, and bring only what will fit into a backpack).  As Ginny reads each letter— in order, after completing the specific tasks in each—she finds out where she’s going next and what she’s supposed to do when she gets there.

The thing is, Aunt Peg died only months earlier.  It was a shock to the whole family.  Suddenly Ginny receives this crazy package and directions all the way from England, and she knows she must take these final steps— the ones her aunt planned for her in her last weeks of life—and discover whatever amazing treasures Aunt Peg hoped for her to find.  On that journey she has to do things like take a plane to a foreign county or find an artistic cause to support. She encounters tons of people, meets a mildly hot guy and delves deeper into the mind of the aunt she loved so dearly.   It scares her, but she does it all for Aunt Peg.  She really isn’t particularly adventurous or brave, but she embraces it all as a way to connect with Peg one last time.

My Take: I had super-high hopes for this one because people seem to love it.  Truthfully, I felt somewhat let down.  I really loved Ginny because I totally related to her cautiousness.  It wasn’t that these things didn’t scare her, but her love for her aunt and her belief in Peg’s love for her (and in her need to share something with Ginny) helped her push past her comfort zone.

While I loved Ginny and her adventures, I had two problems: First, I had a difficult time getting into Keith (the main guy).  He never seemed terribly interested in Ginny, to me at least. I think he was supposed to come across that way, sort of casually interested …but maybe not.  I mean, they live on different continents and Ginny is, as he describes her, his “mad one”, meaning he thinks she kind of off.  I prefer guys who put it out there and Keith just wasn’t that kind of guy.  Also, I had a hard time believing that Ginny’s parents would just let a high school girl jet off on some mysterious trip without a real chaperone, especially one planned by an aunt they viewed as somewhat unreliable.  I got past it, but still, the story never completely soared for me.

Crush Intensity: 3/5  The idea behind Thirteen Little Blue Envelopes is very sweet, it just wasn’t quite what I expected. It’s hard when you’ve heard SO MUCH about a book that it can’t measure up to your expectations.

The Way I See It:


My ten year-old daughter is obsessed with the Nickelodeon show House of Annubis.  This girl, Nathalia Ramos is the main troublemaker girl.  I think she’d be a perfect Ginny.

Ethan Peck would be a great Keith. Keith has an awesome Scottish accent AND at times he wears a kilt.  That scores him some points.

7 thoughts on “Thirteen Little Blue Envelopes

    • i’ve read other books by maureen johnson & loved them, so i don’t think it’s about her saturation in social media. i had this book, bought it at a used book fair, but never read it & ended up exchanging it…guess for once i made the right decision

      • I wonder if I’d read it without hearing about it beforehand, if maybe I would have liked it more. It’s not that I didn’t like it, I just felt somewhat let down. It certainly wasn’t a bad book. The idea behind it is super-cute (and hello, Europe!) but it didn’t quite hit the mark for me.

  1. I was really excited when I began reading this, but I was let down as well – especially when Ginny when to Denmark and it was obvious that the author had never been there and the research could have been a lot better! As a Dane I was very disappointed abut that. But great idea and a very cute book!

  2. Pingback: The Last Little Blue Envelope « YA Crush

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