**Just a brief warning, that while this review holds no spoilers for The Last Little BLue Envelope, it does have spoilers for 13 Little Blue Envelopes. Proceed with caution.**
So, 13 Little Blue Envelopes was my very first Maureen Johnson book. It is what made me fall in love with her writing. It was such a terrific story. On the surface, a tale of a teenage girl overcoming her shy tendencies and traveling around Europe at the behest and expense of her recently deceased aunt. But, of course, Ginny, the teenage girl in question, wasn’t hoping experience Europe or get over her shyness. She wanted to see her aunt.
This time around, things are more complicated. Ginny is determined to see the last of the 13 letters, the one that was stolen from her, and the young man who has it is determined to keep it from her until they find what the letter points too.
That’s right, Ginny is off on another crazy European trip. Less rules this time, but more drama.
So, I’m of two completely different minds about this book but to express one of these is to completely ruin parts of the book. So, for the moment, I’m going to focus on what I liked.
First off, Aunt Peg. Maureen Johnson has, once again, managed to make this deceased character, a real presence in the book. Peg’s imagination, inspiration, and lingering presence in the lives of her loved ones really hit the mark for me. And any time Richard is “on screen” as it were, I just want to give him a hug. You can tell that he’s still processing how this woman flew through his life and turned it upside down.
Ginny and Richard have the best family relationship ever. You can feel that Richard wants to embrace his role as uncle, wants to be that adult in Ginny’s life, but doesn’t quite now what to do with this quiet American girl who keeps turning up on his doorstep. They bond over Peg, and though they are often quiet around one another, you can feel their connection and their closeness. I love any and every scene that features the both of them.
Because there was no rules to Ginny’s traveling this time, it gave the book the opportunity to have a real ensemble cast, and I liked that better than the first one. I can’t really say anything about the ragtag team that travels around Europe without getting really spoilery. So, I will only say that each character is complicated, with multiple motivations and I was kinda hoping all the romance-triangle-stuff would turn out the opposite way than it did…so I tend to get a little rant-y.
Still though, it’s a mark of good writer who can ruin my (fictional) romantic goals, and still have me enjoy the book. A lot.
The last thing, that I just love about Maureen Johnson, is that she is expert at having her books contain her own unique humor yet not sounding as if Maureen Johnson is talking to you. Or at least, the Maureen Johnson I feel I know from following her on Twitter.
I may kinda worship Maureen Johnson. Just a little bit