Sunday, May 22, 2011

13 Little Blue Envelopes by Maureen Johnson

First let me say, if I had known more about this book I might not have read it when I did- the day that we returned from my dad's funeral in my hometown.  My dad died of cancer on May 11 after fighting for years.  I might not have read the story of Ginny and her aunt, who died of cancer, and the blue envelopes that brought them together and tore them apart is I had known ahead of time but I am so glad that I did.  This book pulled me out of the nasty place where I'd been for last last month as my father declined, died and our "family" began the process of moving on from his death.  Granted, I'm still not 100% but Maureen Johnson's book got me up and moving when I was bordering on catatonic.  Thank you Maureen Johnson.

Ginny has always been more like her mom than her aunt.  Aunt Peg is artistic and habitually broke.  She is like a child in a grown woman's body who loves to go into stores and try on the most expensive things there just to try them.  Aunt Peg is a kind of a gypsy who sometimes feels compelled to move or travel.  She's nothing like Ginny, who is sensible and shy.  Ginny never does anything unexpected or exciting.  But when Aunt Peg sends Ginny on an epic journey with only a backpack and a package full of envelopes with instructions, Ginny will get to see things that she never has before and she'll learn things about life, people, herself and her aunt.

This book was great, not just because of the epic journey of self discovery that Ginny embarks on but also because of the greater purpose, in my eyes, for the journey.  Through the letters in the envelopes and the people she meets along the way, Ginny finally begins to deal with her aunt's death and her feelings towards Aunt Peg for leaving her behind.  For me, it gave me license to be mad at my dad for dying,  To be mad at my family for the way they acted after his death.  It left me with hope, even though I know that there will never be letters from beyond the grave for me.  This book is not just about a personal journey of finding yourself or the literal journey across Europe.  It is a story about the journey through grief.  I really appreciated that.  I also liked seeing Ginny begin her trip as totally focused on completing the tasks and going home then ending it with new friends and family across the globe.  Ginny really blossoms and grows as a young woman over the course of this book.  `My favorite character has to be Richard.  I don't know what it is about him but I just love him to bits.  This book is a fun read with message and I would say it is suitable for most teens.  There is plenty of "underage drinking"- Ginny is old enough to drink in most of Europe but she would not be here.  There is one scene that is pretty sexual but there is nothing too graphic.  The sequel, The Last Little Blue Envelope, came out in April so you can find it in bookstores now!  You can find out more about Maureen Johnson and her books on her website or you can follow her on Twitter!  It also sounds like Maureen will be at BEA so be on the lookout for her if you go!  (Can you tell I'm excited for BEA?!)

13 Little Blue Envelopes earns 4 Fairies for being generally awesome.

1 comment:

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