*All Book Reviews on this blog are spoiler free.*
“Go see old virgins! Now ask a strange boy out, you shy, Retarded thing!” - Maureen Johnson, 13 Little Blue Envelopes.
A year back, Maureen Johnson was a guest on the podcast ‘Dear Hank and John’. She was funny, intuitive, clear headed and offered excellent advice on teenage love and relationships in response to the questions asked during the podcast. And that is why I approached 13 Little Blue Envelopes with higher expectations that I usually hold for this genre.
13 Little Blue Envelopes is a coming of age story of Ginny, who receives 12 envelopes from her dead Aunt. Each letter comes with a set of instructions, to be followed to the dot; and only after completing each task is Ginny allowed to open the next envelope. What follows is a scatterbrained road trip across Europe from London to Paris to Rome.
Here Maureen Johnson tells the story of how a timid, teenage girl with a lack of self worth blossoms into a confident person as a result of an expected road trip and the friends she makes along the way. The road trip is the fantastical one where money is never a problem. Prior commitments and responsibilities don’t exist in this perfect world. The idea of character growth stems from falling in love with absolute strangers and kissing boys in Rome, from skinny dipping and getting drunk in foreign countries. This novel is Queen and P.S. I Love You and every single John Green novel rolled into one.
It barrels down the road to cliché-Ville at full speed. The book lacks depth in terms of plot and character, and hangs on by a thread. It is quick and easy to read, thus best picked up for light reading. And it is proof that while Maureen Johnson remains a delightfully insightful person, the same can’t be said for her writings.