Back in 2008, when I had hit a bout of reader’s/writer’s block, I asked one of my online friends for reading suggestions. She mentioned Maureen Johnson. “…the chick from Rent?” I asked. But seeing as I was working on a road trip story at the time, I skipped off to the bookstore and picked up 13 Little Blue Envelopes.Compared to Key to the Golden Firebird or Bermudez Triangle, 13 Little Blue Envelopes doesn’t seem like it would have the same sort of emotional depth as Johnson’s earlier works. And yes, it’s a much lighter read than those two, BUT you do get to see Ginny dealing with her aunt’s disappearance and death and what that holds for Ginny’s future. One of the parts that I actually really like about this book is the scene wherein Ginny explains her aunt’s game to Love Interest Keith, who promptly replies “That’s a bit crap, isn’t it?” It’s a nice touch of the reality, that while the envelopes are supposed to send Ginny on this whirlwind journey to experience life (!), Ginny is still hurt and abandoned by Aunt Peg, and there’s still not even an explanation to every single detail. This is also what I want from a travelogue book. Most of the locations Ginny goes to does hit all of the big touristy spots, but I love the disjointed, weird feeling she has as she moves from country to country. I like that the whole concept of Europe being big and bright and full of languages and weird but sometimes tasty food. While Ginny’s time in Great Britain takes up the majority of the book, I do like that she does still feel out-of-place and while there’s some familiarity, it’s very foreign and different. And in concurrence with the notes, I like that not everything goes right, and Ginny is left wondering what she was supposed to learn from her dead ends. I also like that while most of the people she’s supposed to meet are mainly there to impart worldly wisdom, I like that she connects more with the ones she just happens on, like Keith and the Australian students. (The Knapps are just…weird. Well, the parents, at least.)Speaking of Keith, oh, I do love a man in a kilt. He’s someone who feels like Peg should have sent him to impart wisdom in Ginny, but he’s not, and yet, still has his own bits of advice of life and living. Mostly involving what not to do. I also like that he does mention that it’s more of infatuation he has with Ginny (something which comes into play in the sequel), but he worries about her in a very Keith-like manner.I do like Ginny. She is a bit bland and too suburban (if there’s one thing I dislike, it’s Peg’s extremely artistic viewpoint of suburbia), but I like that she does grow throughout her journey. There’s a nice moment near the end when she mentions that she doesn’t want to open the last envelope, not just yet, and you get the sense that she doesn’t want her journey to end, that she just wants to keep traveling with her new friends for just a little while longer. I would have liked to have seen more of connection with her life back home in the States, but aside from mentions of her mother and her best friend Miriam, we really don’t get to see who Ginny is when she’s not tromping across Europe. And while I do like that she’s not snarky and constantly throwing out one-liners, there are moments where it does feel a little bland and Ginny does come across as too typical American touristy. Aside from the slightly rushed resolution, I really don’t have too many complaints about this book. (Actually, my biggest issue with the cover copy synopsis. Yeah, there’s a romance, but it’s really not the main plot.) It’s a very solid coming-of-age travelogue that’s also very funny and has an engaging storyline, with a relatable heroine who’s not so bland and passive that anyone can project themselves onto her. As introductions to authors go, this is a good book to get started on.