13 Little Blue Envelopes by Maureen Johnson

Harper Collins, 2005.

Ginny Blackstone’s on a secret mission of her aunt’s devising. In contrast to Ginny’s rather ordinary mom, Ginny’s aunt is artistic, the one who sometimes leads her bohemian artist’s life in New York and sometimes disappears for long stretches of time. Now Ginny’s been challenged to leave her own comfortable New Jersey life and follow her aunt’s directions in a crazy chase across Europe. She doesn’t know how much money she’s got or even what her next task will be, and the kicker is she’s got to cut herself off from home and friends if she’s going to follow her aunt’s rules. As she travels, Ginny learns a lot about her mysterious aunt and even more about herself.

It seems to me Ginny’s story is every 17-year-old’s fantasy and nightmare rolled into one. Ginny doesn’t feel ready for the adventure that’s being foisted upon her, but who could turn down the mystery–not to mention the all expenses paid trip to Europe? But with the excitement comes the challenge of traveling alone, managing Aunt Peg’s crazy tasks, and muddling through when things don’t go as planned.

Ginny is a delightful character. I thoroughly enjoyed sharing her journey and wished I could meet Aunt Peg and the people she’d touched. This is a great summer read that left me wanting to pack my bags and hop a plane with nothing more than a few little blue envelopes to show me the way.

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