Sunday, April 8, 2012

The Last Little Blue Envelope by Maureen Johnson

Ginny went on the trip of her life last summer, only to have it end abruptly and unfinished. You see, her favorite aunt, Aunt Peg, recently passed away, but not before setting up an adventure for Ginny around Europe that would be the ultimate coming-of-age.

In the prequel, 13 Little Blue Envelopes, (which boasts the ALA award for Best Books for Young Adults in 2006, along with many other noteworthy accomplishments) Ginny followed the directions of letters 1-12, finding love, adventure, danger, and most importantly, herself. Before she was able to end her trip properly, with the 13th letter, her backpack containing all of the envelopes was stolen from her and she had to return to her American life with her saga uncompleted.

The Last Little Blue Envelope, by Maureen Johnson, picks up with a mysterious stranger emailing Ginny that he has found the backpack and letters. He invites her to meet up with him so he can be sure the letters are given back to the proper owner.

With this, Ginny drops all of her responsibilities, including a college admittance essay with a fast approaching deadline, to fly back to London, and continue the adventure of her life. The last letter leads her to travels in Paris (France), Ghent (Belgium), and Dublin (Ireland) with some stops along the way. It also brings with it deceit, jealousy, criminal behavior, kissing, drinking, and many many stops for petrol and chips. It causes her to rethink who she is, her love life, her values, and her future.

This novel would appeal to a wide range of young women, from the preteen age to mid-twenties and beyond. With references to popular culture such as Hogwarts and historical landmarks such as Christ Church Cathedral, it has funny and educational moments. It is a good novel for those looking for adventure with the comfort of romance and a bit of mystery thrown in.

It does a very nice job handling the grief Ginny has about the death of her aunt and the mixture of emotions surrounding her first romantic relationship. While I am sure there are males who would enjoy Ginny's wit and intelligence, it does seem a bit female-oriented with the exploration of romantic relationships and young woman / coming-of-age troubles. This novel may not be perfectly suited for use in classroom because of this, but it is definitely entertaining. I would recommend it to any girl I know who was looking for a read both challenging and interesting enough to not be the ordinary "fluff" for young girls.


Sarah Rau said...

I'll admit at first glance, the picture on the cover seems to look like any other typical girly teen book....or like the cover of a chick flick that my even contemplating watching would make my boyfriend run for the hills. After reading your review though, it sounds like this book isn't the usual cookie-cutter story! I totally agree with what you said--so many books geared toward female teen readers are all fluff with no substance (which honestly, I enjoy those too....ha). I enjoy even more though when I find a teen book geared towards girls that actually has a clever and witty plot that keeps my interest. This book seems to have just that and I love that the book has some added mystery to it, which I know would hold my attention. I'd be interested in hearing a review of the prequel as well...seems like that one sounds really good too. If I have some spare time, I'll take a look at them at my library!

Demitra said...

I have actually read both 13 Little Blue Envelopes and this one! Both books were excellent; if you haven't read the first one, I highly recommend it. Her escapades across Europe are fantastic. I especially liked the premise of how she had to follow the instructions left to her. The book was definitely different from the normal "fluff," as you put it. The premise was original and the text was engaging. I really found myself liking Ginny in both books and was a little sad when I finished this one and knew her story was over. Like you, I don't see that this would have a great place in the classroom, but in providing reader's advisory, I would recommend this one hands down.

amberK said...

Both this story and the prequel sound so interesting. I would love to travel the world, so reading a story like this seems so appealing. Plus, the references to society and today's culture sound great and they really include the reader into the story; I love when authors make references and I actually know what they are referring to. This novel sounds like it would appeal most to older girls, especially when it comes to discovering yourself. Overall, you really made me want to read this book because of your review!

Safa said...

I think that any teenage girl in high school wouold run towards this as first choice. I never got tired of girly books because I found them soooooooo interesting and each time I read another it was like a chapter of my life revealed. However, the guys on the other hand would be running in the total opposite direction for something that was much more relatble to their life. I remember reading the baby sitters club and Anne of Green Gables and etc, things that you pick up in high school are normally things you have relations to. I can't stress that enough in my posts!