13 Little Blue Envelopes

One evening, light years ago, my college roommate told me I was anal retentive. She sat me down in the living room and said, “You know what you’re problem is? Your parents potty trained you way too early so now you’re afraid to shit your pants and that’s why you’re the way you are.” I didn’t really know what she meant by that, so I just nodded like I did and we were on our merry way, cohabitating like friendly roommates should.

But now, as I finally returned to blogging after what has been a month long slump at casa Lit Connection, I think I’m beginning to understand what she was getting at and it goes like this: In the challenging world of book blogging, I am afraid to shit my posts, which translate into a painstakingly laborious posting process, i.e., it takes for-freaking-ever to compose, edit, and publish one post. So lately, I’ve been feeling like it’s taking way too much effort just to post, so, after I return from my soul-sucking job and all my creative energy is drained from a day of pleasing customers while donning incredibly painful, foot-binding, toe-pinching high heels (no, my day job isn’t titled “hooker”), the last thing I want to do is tinker with WordPress and worry about perfecting my blog writing and tweaking my pictures. My anal retentiveness, as my roommate so gently put it, is the reason for the recent lull in updates. So today, I had a revelation: I’m never going to win a Pulitzer in Blogging so why not open up the flood gates and let the verbal sewage spew forth. Anything to quell the lull and make blogging more enjoyable, right?

On to the meat of things: 13 Little Blue Envelopes by Maureen Johnson.

It is a truth universally acknowledged that a college student, in possession of their parent’s middle income fortune and aided by student loans, will one day backpack through Europe in this rite of passage fondly known as “Study Abroad.” Alas, I never participated in this rite of passage because when I was in college, I fell madly in love with my Markus Zusak look alike boyfriend in the same whirlwind way that Bella fell for Edward Cullen, that is, if he ever dumped me, I too would lose three months to depression, try my friends’ patience with my never-ending mopping (done and done), and purchase a motorcycle and drive myself off a cliff. And if said boyfriend didn’t want to go study abroad in Europe and marvel at the Mona Lisa, eat fish and chips with the natives of London town, I too would remain in the States and eat my McDonalds and watch my American Idol like a dutiful, doting girlfriend.

Thankfully, I’ve matured some since then. I regret, however, not embarking on my study abroad rite of passage, and now I have a slim, three year window before I will be too old to stay at the youth hostels and the clock is tick-tick-ticking, but let’s forget about the cruel passages of time and talk about the book.

Seventeen year old Virginia “Ginny” Blackstone receives a package containing 13 blue envelopes from her dearly departed Aunt Peg. In each envelop is an instruction that takes her to a different European country and to a coming-of-age adventure that includes the necessary ingredients to any teenage girl’s fantasy: boys, food, and art!

The mood is light, the tone is whimsical, and the overall effect: to buoyant the spirit. And once you get over the implausibility of the set-up (Ginny’s parents are virtually absent and strangely accepting of their teenage daughter flying off to Europe without a) money b) guidebooks c) reservations d) a place to stay e) traveling companions and with only the envelops of her flaky, albeit free-spirited aunt as her guide through lands unknown), the book is enjoyable in the same way romantic comedies staring Hugh Grant are enjoyable. In fact, I enjoyed it so much that Maureen Johnson’s Girl at Sea is sitting pretty in my To Be Read pile. Recommended!

6 thoughts on “13 Little Blue Envelopes”

  1. I really enjoyed 13LBE as well. I was pretty unimpressed with Girl at Sea though. It just didn’t do anything for me. I’m currently reading MJ’s Suite Scarlett and am enjoying it!


  2. Oooh, I love Maureen Johnson, and this one sounds like good fun.
    I’m hoping to go on exchange next year in the States, or maybe Europe (England) if I’m lucky. We’ll see. Got to get myself organized, the application date for 2nd semester next year is Dec. this year!!


  3. just a girl:
    How cool you’re going study abroad. If you do go to England and/or Europe, this is the perfect companion piece to your travels! If you go to the states…hmmm….read something with an American setting. I usually like to read a book that takes place in the place I visit (though I haven’t really visited anywhere).

    If you study in NYC, then there are NYC books galore.

  4. im doin a report on this book and we had like 6 weeks to read it. well…i jus couldn’t put the book down! i finished it in 3 days!! it’s a great book!~!!

  5. I read the book and hated it. I was forced to read it. I’m not saying that it’s a horrible book but rather not my cup of tea, I prefer fantasy romance (such as vampires, werewolves etc.). I’m looking for all the help I can get in doing this project so can someone please help me connect this book to current events such as movies today’s events. Please and thank you. P.s. I’m not cheating, so if you’re against this sort of thing, I just need a steer in the right direction.

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