The past couple of weeks have been rough on the personal front, hence the lack of blogging. I lost two very special people in my life - my uncle on my dad's side and my aunt on my mom's side. Cancer SUCKS. :-(
I've been trying to lighten my emotional load a little by reading some fun, beachy reads...the ironic thing is two of the three books I'll be reviewing in the next few weeks do deal in some way with cancer, despite their generally light-hearted tones. I find this oddly fitting...I don't know anyone who hasn't been affected in some way by cancer...known someone who had it and survived, lost a loved one, fought cancer themselves. It seems right, then, that the books we read and love would be similarly touched by the disease.
This week I'm talking about 13 LITTLE BLUE ENVELOPES by Maureen Johnson. This book has been out for a while, but I just discovered it, and I'm so glad I did.
When Ginny receives 13 little blue envelopes with instructions to buy a plane ticket to London, she's soon on an adventure that will change her in more ways than one.
This book is a perfect summer read. It has adventure, a treasure hunt of sorts, romance, world travel, and a little poignancy thrown in for good measure. As someone who's done a fair bit of traveling in Europe, I loved seeing Ginny's different destinations through her eyes - it reminded me of my own adventures and experiences overseas. I loved all the little details, from typical food dishes to scenery to the realities of train travel through Europe.
Ginny was a great character to take the trip with. She was quiet and reserved but observant, and the right combination of hesitant and open to adventure. We didn't have to hear her whine about the fact that she hadn't washed her hair in a week, but we also benefitted from her willingness to present all the good and bad details of her trip (like the fact that she didn't get a chance to wash her hair).
The premise of the story - a high school girl traveling alone through Europe following a "treasure map" of letters from her impulsive aunt - is a little far-fetched, but it takes us on such a fun, eye-opening journey I didn't mind. I really enjoyed the randomness of Ginny's adventures - how each adventure begat more adventures. That was my experience traveling as well...you just never know what you'll run across: interesting people, random art exhibits, huge bottles of Nutella (I spent a semester in Florence - man, those Italians love their Nutella!). This book reflects how those highly specific experiences are strangely universal...each of Ginny's adventures reminded me of my own adventures, even though there was nothing particularly "typical" about either.
The movie BEFORE SUNRISE (if you haven't seen it, you should!) also has this lovely "randomness of European travel" charm to it as well.
If you're looking for a summer read to take you adventuring, to give you a taste of Europe, to both excite you and touch your heart, this is a great choice. I hope you enjoy it as much as I did!
Take a look at what the other Bookanistas are up to this week!