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(Note: This recommendation was first published in September of 2013. You can see the original version here.)

Maureen Johnson’s 13 Little Blue Envelopes is a novel I’ve read multiple times. It’s also a novel I enjoy every time I read it, for a few different reasons.

Yes, one of those reasons is that I always seem to forget the details. That, however, is not what keeps me coming back.

Before Ginny’s aunt passed away, she wrote a series of 13 letters. Each letter contains a task. Together, these tasks lead Ginny on a whirlwind trip across Europe–one bound to leave her a much different person than the shy girl her aunt left behind.

My little summary there doesn’t do this novel justice. 13 Little Blue Envelopes is a wonderful book. Not only is it well-written, with great characters and an intriguing plot, it’s also bound to leave you with a distinct feeling of wanderlust.

Johnson’s descriptions of the places Ginny visits paint incredible pictures. Though I’ve been to maybe one or two of the cities mentioned, I’m able to imagine each of them vividly. It’s not often that one book can describe that many places so well, and in such a small number of pages.

Goodreads summary

Inside little blue envelope 1 are $1,000 and instructions to buy a plane ticket.

In envelope 2 are directions to a specific London flat.

The note in envelope 3 tells Ginny: Find a starving artist.

Because of envelope 4, Ginny and a playwright/thief/ bloke–about–town called Keith go to Scotland together, with somewhat disastrous–though utterly romantic–results. But will she ever see him again?

Everything about Ginny will change this summer, and it’s all because of the 13 little blue envelopes.

Ages 12+