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Review: The Last Little Blue Envelope

April 26, 2011

Title: The Last Little Blue Envelope
Author: Maureen Johnson
Publisher: HarperTeen
Pub Date: April 26, 2011
Pages: 304
Format: ARC

Ginny Blackstone thought that the biggest adventure of her life was behind her. She spent last summer traveling around Europe, following the tasks her aunt Peg laid out in a series of letters before she died. When someone stole Ginny’s backpack—and the last little blue envelope inside—she resigned herself to never knowing how it was supposed to end.
Months later, a mysterious boy contacts Ginny from London, saying he’s found her bag. Finally, Ginny can finish what she started. But instead of ending her journey, the last letter starts a new adventure—one filled with old friends, new loves, and once-in-a-lifetime experiences. Ginny finds she must hold on to her wits . . . and her heart. This time, there are no instructions.–Goodreads
If you are anything like me, which is sick of being stuck inside due to rainy weather and full of wanderlust, then Maureen Johnson’s The Last Little Blue Envelope (LLBE) is both a blessing and a curse. While it’s so much fun to spend some time with Ginny in London again, it’s torture to read about her trips across Europe. I. Want. To. Go. To There. NOW. 

In fact! I think some enterprising travel business type person should create a Little Blue Envelope tour company so all of us crazy book people can go on a scavenger hunt throughout Europe.
But I digress. 
When I heard that there was going to be a sequel to Thirteen Little Blue Envelopes (TLBE), I was actually surprised. It seemed as if TLBE ended where it needed to–Ginny completed as much of the task as she was able to, she found her Aunt Peg’s artwork even without the last envelope, and everything seemed hunky-dory. Regardless of my reservations about the sequel, I do love Maureen Johnson, so when the ARC of LLBE landed on my desk, I squealed loud enough for my boss to come out of her office to investigate why I made a crazy high pitched noise. 
Despite my girl crush on Ms. Johnson and my love for Europe and my severe wanderlust, I never loved TLBE the way I wanted to, and while reading, I found that clouding my thoughts about LLBE. Don’t get me wrong–they are both wonderful books. The writing is great, the story is amazing, and the books are super-duper fun to read. But there was always something about them that kept me from just loving them completely. It wasn’t until I reached the almost the very, very end of LLBE that I realized what that thing was. 
Ready for this?
That thing is Ginny. Yes, she’s the main character, but she isn’t necessarily the easiest character to know. Sure, you know her likes and dislikes and taste in boys, but, at least for me, she always had different reactions than I expected her to have–not that a character should always act the way I think they should; I just found her reactions totally baffling and her rationale totally unsound. What I realized while reading LLBE is that there’s a reason for that.
We are meeting Ginny as a teenager–she is still figuring out who she is! Lucky for us, we have Aunt Peg, from beyond the grave telling us who Ginny is. This crazy, brilliant, eccentric woman gives us more insight to Ginny than Ginny does because Ginny doesn’t know herself yet. But Aunt Peg did know her, and she saw not only who Ginny was, but who she had the potential of becoming. It’s a truly beautiful thing.
By the end of LLBE, Ginny has not only traveled most of Europe, but has met a wide array of characters–some good, some not so good, some we already know, some who are new–and can say that, if nothing else, she now knows way more than how to avoid getting a backpack stolen on a beach. She has started to know herself.
So, despite the fact that I didn’t think Thirteen Little Blue Envelopes needed a sequel, I’m so glad that Johnson wrote The Last Little Blue Envelope. It’s the rest of a story you didn’t even know you wanted the rest of. There are few things as satisfying as that. 
2 Comments leave one →
  1. April 26, 2011 9:13 AM

    I'm looking forward to this book. I just read TLBE, and I really enjoyed the armchair traveling and the easy-going tone Johnson used throughout the novel. Thanks for a great review, it makes me want to pick up the last book even more now!And I totally agree with you about Ginny.


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