13 Little Blue Envelopes is a sweet story about finding oneself and coming to understand the importance of family. Shy girls will especially love the empowerment Ginny experiences as she travels around Europe following clues left by her crazy aunt. Maureen Johnson’s writing is strong, especially with dialogue, and she consistently strikes a great balance between funny and poignant.
The story is pretty far-fetched, and it’s difficult to imagine that a timid teenager with a modest bank account could really find her way all over Europe by herself, but that’s not really the point. Readers of a certain age will be able to suspend disbelief and lose themselves in the romance of this charming, mysterious tale. I have to admit even I feel curious about what will happen in the second installment.
Profanity/Language: 8 religious exclamations; 6 mild obscenities; 1 scatological word; 2 anatomical terms.
Sex/Nudity: A character writes about kissing someone; characters kiss briefly; with her back turned, a character takes her shirt off while a male character watches (non-sexual); homosexuality is referred to vaguely; a character is known to be in a homosexual relationship; characters kiss passionately (2 times); a character tries to unbutton another character’s pants (unsuccessful); characters sit with arms around each other; prostitution is mentioned vaguely; female characters skinny dip.
Mature Subject Matter:
Suicide is mentioned (jokingly), out-of-wedlock pregnancy and abortion (discussed vaguely), homosexuality (mentioned).
Alcohol / Drug Use:
Teens drink in moderation socially (European custom); an adult character gets drunk.