Review: 13 Little Blue Envelopes

13 Little Blue Envelopes by Maureen Johnson was first published in the U.S. on August 23, 2005.

It is currently available online in hardcover, paperback, eBook and audio formats at Amazon and in hardcover, paperback and eBook formats at Barnes & Noble.

Published by HarperTeen, the hardcover edition is 336 pages.

13 Little Blue Envelopes is being offered as a free eBook download until April 25, 2011 from Amazon, Barnes & Noble and Sony and is available to read online at HarperTeen. Check the blog sidebar for download links through April 25th.

Goodreads description:

When Ginny receives thirteen little blue envelopes and instructions to buy a plane ticket to London, she knows something exciting is going to happen.

What Ginny doesn’t know is that she will have the adventure of her life and it will change her in more ways than one.

Life and love are waiting for her across the Atlantic, and the thirteen little blue envelopes are the key to finding them in this funny, romantic, heartbreaking novel


Ginny Blackstone always loved her Aunt Peg. When she was young, she and her aunt used to play “today I live in” and go on mini adventures around New York City imagining faraway places.

When she was seventeen the imaginary was going to finally become reality when her aunt sends her thirteen little blue envelopes to embark on an overseas adventure of her own.

Every destination would be a surprise, revealing itself one by one as she completes each task and opens each envelope. But Ginny isn’t the free spirit that her runaway aunt is, and following the rules is much more difficult than she ever imagined.

Having an adventure without the comfort of knowing what might happen next will open up Ginny’s eyes to a world filled with surprise and love and the possibilities of the unknown.


13 Little Blue Envelopes is an enchanting, delightful and fun little adventure that will take readers along with Ginny Blackstone as she follows the rules set by her aunt and hidden away within each of the thirteen little blue envelopes she received.

Author Maureen Johnson has perfectly captured the main character Ginny’s reluctance to adhere to the unusual requests her quirky aunt set forth in each letter and her devotion to her aunt’s wishes to follow them regardless. Not everything goes according to plan, and even though Ginny is less than pleased with each deviation, it makes the adventure all that more real and believable.

While at first it appears that Ginny may not have gotten everything out of her experiences as she could have, the author in just one short paragraph beautifully shows readers that she has and that her eyes have been opened.

13 Little Blue Envelopes is a quick read and one that will transport readers to London to begin their whirlwind travels along with Ginny as she gets to learn just a little bit more about life, love and spontaneity as she follows her aunt’s footsteps on the same path that she took years before.

Reviewer gives this book [rating=4]

On a personal note:

This was sweet and fun and a really quick little adventure that only made me sad toward the end.

I loved the fact that Ginny was completely taken out of her comfort zone to follow along with her aunt’s somewhat bizarre wishes. I can’t imagine any teenager who would willingly give up all technology and strictly follow the whims of a flaky aunt, especially if they were very by-the-book like Ginny was.

What made this story lovable to me were the author’s writing style and the touches of humor she used throughout. Ginny herself was a difficult character to adore and connect with, but in the end I felt like I understood her. And I really did feel for her. Especially after reading her letter to her aunt at the end.

The second I put this book down I immediately started reading the next and I’m really glad that I get a chance to continue the adventure and get to know Ginny a bit more. This book does wrap up nicely at the end, but knowing that there is now a sequel makes everything seem much more open-ended than if I had read it back in 2005 when a sequel wasn’t forthcoming.

I don’t typically compare books, but there were many elements of this story that kept reminding me of Cecelia Ahern’s P.S. I Love You, which I had read back in 2004. The stories weren’t the same, the writing styles very different, but the idea that someone wanted to reach out to a loved one and orchestrate an adventure that would take them somewhere else in their life was similar in feel. (Fortunately this story was light with only a tinge of sadness versus the other which kept me sobbing from first page to last.)

I really did feel like I was seeing all the different countries along with Ginny, and cringed at some of the less than sanitary places she had to stay and the lack of hygiene she had to endure on her quest. It would have definitely been a less exciting story if her aunt had her staying at five-star hotels around the globe.

I can’t wait to see what the next book has in store and as I really like the author’s writing style I plan on checking out a couple more books she’s written.

My favorite passage is actually the one I mentioned in the review section but don’t want to include it to spoil things here. My second favorite is one that is much more humorous:

This reminds me of something. I still have a whopping bad case of what you call my scag magnetism. I thought I had gotten rid of it there, but it looks like scary guys still materialize from thin air in my presence. They are drawn to me. I am the North Pole, and they are the explorers of love.

How I “discovered” this book:

13 Little Blue Envelopes is a “Just Discovered” just learned about book.

I’ve seen the author on Twitter and have followed her tweets for awhile, but haven’t read any of her books. But when I saw her upcoming book The Last Little Blue Envelope on NetGalley (and was then approved by HarperTeen) I decided it was the perfect opportunity to check out the author’s work.

As the book I got approved for was a sequel I knew that I would be reading this first book in the series. I was planning on purchasing an eBook from Amazon to read, but heard (also on Twitter) that from April 12th through April 25th the book would be made available for free, and so I decided to wait.

Legally obtained free books are wonderful, although I wish I had purchased this sooner so as not to have to read and review both books so close to the deadline.

Book trailer for 13 Little Blue Envelopes:


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