Castle Librarian

13 Little Blue Envelopes

In Book Review on July 6, 2013 at 2:50 pm

13 Little Blue Envelopes by Maureen Johnson
Harper Collins Children’s Books
9780007319909

The premise of this book caught my attention. A teen girl receives 13 blue envelopes from her favorite aunt. She is to open one at a time and follow the instructions before opening the next envelope. The letters within lead her on a trip through Europe.

I struggled to read this book because I couldn’t relate to the main character. Maybe it’s because I’m not a teenage girl anymore. However, I didn’t have that problem with Wonder by R.J. Palacio  even though I’m not a deformed 5th grade boy. Characters can be other, but still be relatable. In fact, they should be other. The beauty of reading is the opportunity to live another life from the comfort of your easy chair.

The main character, Ginny, has an amazing opportunity, but she is a petulant traveler. She goes to see the Vestal Virgins, but is unimpressed by them. “The story behind them was interesting, but they were still just a bunch of broken statues.” I walked on a Roman road in Petra, but I didn’t say to myself “this is just a bunch of broken stones.” What occurred to me was “wow, this is thousands of years old and it is still a good road.” Not having at least a little sense of wonder didn’t fit the main character of this book.

I’m still attracted to the premise of the book. When I was young, I dreamed of travelling and seeing the world, but there was no money for that. There was no adventurous aunt giving me a push. There was no supportive parent willing to fund a coming of age experience. Luckily, in my old age I am able to live abroad and travel to exotic places. Reading this book didn’t just make me wish I had gotten a much earlier start, but also made me wonder if I should or could make it happen for someone else.

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