Skip to main content

13 Little Blue Envelopes

Review

13 Little Blue Envelopes

Seventeen-year-old Ginny is living a rather normal, quiet life in New Jersey until a letter arrives from her quirky Aunt Peg. The letter contains a thousand dollars in cash and instructions: get a passport, book a one-way flight to London, then go to an address in New York to pick up a package before heading to the airport. Aunt Peg also lists specific rules: Take only what fits in a backpack. Leave credit cards, money, camera, cell phone, and laptop at home, and have no contact by electronic means from Europe with anyone in America. It seems unbelievable that Ginny would agree to these terms, but she does and is soon on her way to London with the New York package that contains twelve more letters of instruction.

Letter #2, which she is told to open on the plane, sends her to a flat in London where a man named Richard seems to be expecting her. Richard's answer to Peg's riddle "What did you sell the queen?" provides the password to an ATM account for Ginny that will fund her many adventures. Letter #3 instructs Ginny to give a charitable donation to an artist. After a few false starts Ginny stumbles upon a strange little play entitled "Starbucks: The Musical" and buys all the tickets to every performance. She becomes involved with the play's strange producer/director/star, Keith, who accompanies her to Edinburgh, Scotland where Letter #4 sends her. The next two envelopes guide Ginny on to Rome to statues of the vestal virgins.

Ginny is adopted by a noisy, over-organized American family touring Holland and spends five days with them. Her backpack and everything she owns, except her passport and ATM card, are stolen in Greece. Sometimes Ginny runs into dead ends as she tries to follow the instructions in the letters. She often gets lost and has to retrace her steps. At times she is tired, dirty and homesick; that's when she curses the letters and even Aunt Peg. Still, Ginny continues on her amazing journey, propelled by the letters, to a surprising conclusion.

13 LITTLE BLUE ENVELOPES is a very interesting book, full of realistic details of faraway places. Anyone who has the soul of an adventurer or is an armchair traveler will be swept away on a grand adventure in Europe with Ginny.

Reviewed by Carole Turner on August 23, 2005

13 Little Blue Envelopes
by Maureen Johnson

  • Publication Date: May 3, 2016
  • Genres: Fiction
  • Paperback: 352 pages
  • Publisher: HarperTeen
  • ISBN-10: 0062439103
  • ISBN-13: 9780062439109