13 LITTLE BLUE ENVELOPES
by Maureen Johnson
Young Adult Contemporary
I meant to read a chapter or two just to see what this Maureen woman was all about. I mean, you saw the video...the woman's _funny_. I CANNOT get the line, "We hate it, AND YOU!" out of my head. Needless to say, I couldn't put it down... loved, loved, loved it. Will be scouring the net for the rest of her books.
Brief Synopsis: Virginia (Ginny) Blackstone receives a mysterious letter from her Aunt Peg--her dead Aunt Peg, stating she must follow the instructions inside. She's given a thousand dollars and told to buy a plane ticket to London. Once she's there, she can open the next envelope. A series of instructions will follow in each letter. Rinse and repeat until the last letter is opened. No clues are given, and there are rules.
1. She can only bring what she can hold in a single backpack.
2. No guide, phrase, or foreign language aids allowed. No journals either.
3. No extra money allowed.
4. No electronic crutches: laptop, cell phone, music, or camera. Plus, she cannot call home or communicate via the internet or phone. Postcards and letters are OK.
And so Ginny's journey begins.
I don't know where to start.
First, Ginny is a fantastic character. She isn't one of these over-the-top teens with a flip comment for every situation. She's shy, she's insecure about herself...she's inexperienced...and most importantly, she's scared to death to begin this journey. But one thing is clear. She loves her aunt and she WANTS to be the kind of person who flies off on a whim and into destination unknown. And yeah, that's enough to get her butt on that plane. A very brave thing to do, imho.
Reading this book is like reliving my teen years. Johnson captures those teen moments with SUCH skill. I found myself embarrassed...uncomfortable...breathing a deep sigh of content and nostalgia...getting that little twinge in my belly at the prospect of that ultimate crush. She did a superb job.
I've never traveled outside of the U.S...I know next to nothing about writing dialects. But she did a great job. I could _hear_ the voices of the characters, even the English ones and they were spot on as far as I'm concerned. Ditto for her the way she set the scene for the various locations Ginny visits. Felt like I was there.
The letters were genius. If anyone has seen P.S. I LOVE YOU, you're probably seeing a similar theme with this book. And yes, they are similar, but this is how I imagine one of those trips would actually turn out. LOL. Not everything is perfect, and there are many mishaps along the way. Plus, the poor girl is experiencing all of this in a foreign country -- alone. I can't even imagine. Through these letters, I FELT Peg...learned to know her...learned how special their relationship was. And let me tell you, I shed more than a few tears along the way.
It is by far the coolest "road trip" I've ever been on.
Yes, I had a couple of issues. There was a big chunk of backstory up front. Not sure if it could have been avoided...maybe, but it didn't do much to diminish the book for me. The second thing is one of the ending events. It seemed a bit too...well, fantastic to me. It stood out from the rest of the book because of it. Again, not enough to ruin the book for me. One minute I was almost rolling my eyes, and the next I was crying... So there you go. (g)
I've read a few reviews that took issue with the ending (this event excluded) and I absolutely DO NOT agree. I thought it was perfect. I had that warm, contented feeling in my belly when I finished. Sad to see it end.
Yeah, it was damn good, people. I hope you enjoy it as much as I did.
Buy or Rent? BUY BUY BUY! :)