Friday, July 11, 2014

Book Review: 13 Little Blue Envelopes by Maureen Johnson

From Goodreads:

Inside little blue envelope 1 are $1,000 and instructions to buy a plane ticket.

In envelope 2 are directions to a specific London flat.

The note in envelope 3 tells Ginny: Find a starving artist.

Because of envelope 4, Ginny and a playwright/thief/ bloke–about–town called Keith go to Scotland together, with somewhat disastrous–though utterly romantic–results. But will she ever see him again?

Everything about Ginny will change this summer, and it's all because of the 13 little blue envelopes.

I saw 13 Little Blue Envelopes by Maureen Johnson at Target a few years ago.  It didn't appeal to me at the time, so I put it back.  Recently, I read a review by Write Meg! and decided to take a chance.  I enjoyed reading about international locales such as London, Paris, Italy, Greece, Scotland, and the Netherlands.  

My problem with this novel is that Ginny's character feels flat.  The novel is written in third person, and there is more telling than showing.  When I took a writing course from the Institute of Children's Literature a few years ago, I was constantly warned about "show don't tell."  

Now, I see the difference.  I often wondered about how Ginny really felt about the journey, Aunt Peg's letters and why she ran off to Europe.  How did her parents feel about Ginny going to Europe by herself?  

Another downside to this novel is that there seem to be no resolution at the end.  What happens to Aunt Peg's artwork?  What about Ginny and Keith's relationship?  Are they friends or in an actual relationship? Will Ginny keep in touch with Richard?  There are just so many unanswered questions.  

Other than these issues, I enjoyed reading 13 Little Blue Envelopes.  I finished it within two weeks.  I read a chunk of the novel during my trip to the beach.  I also found time to read on lunch break and during my bus ride to and from work.  

I was eager to find out where each envelope would take Ginny.  She met many interesting people along the way like Mari Adams and the family in the Netherlands.  I am eager to read The Last Envelope to unravel the mystery of the last envelope and maybe just maybe Maureen Johnson has addressed the above mentioned questions and other questions readers may have.  

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