13 Little Blue Envelopes
Goodreads ratings
3.63 / 5

"13 Little Blue Envelopes" Summary

By Maureen Johnson

young adult | 322 pages | Published in NaN

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+"


Estimated read time: 5 min read

One Sentence Summary

A girl embarks on a journey following a series of mysterious envelopes left by her deceased aunt.


In "13 Little Blue Envelopes" by Maureen Johnson, readers are taken on a captivating journey with Ginny Blackstone, a seventeen-year-old girl who embarks on a life-changing adventure following the death of her eccentric aunt. This coming-of-age novel explores themes of self-discovery, adventure, and the power of stepping out of one's comfort zone. With its engaging plot and relatable characters, "13 Little Blue Envelopes" is a captivating read that will leave readers eagerly turning the pages.

Brief Synopsis

The story begins in New York City, where Ginny receives a package containing thirteen blue envelopes from her late Aunt Peg. These envelopes contain a series of instructions that lead Ginny on a whirlwind trip across Europe. The catch? She can only open the next envelope once she has completed the task in the previous one. With her passport in hand and a sense of both excitement and trepidation, Ginny embarks on a journey that takes her to various cities, from London to Rome, Amsterdam to Paris.

As Ginny follows her aunt's instructions, she encounters a diverse cast of characters, each with their own unique stories and lessons to impart. Along the way, she discovers hidden treasures, uncovers family secrets, and learns more about herself than she ever thought possible. Through the envelopes, Aunt Peg's spirit and love for adventure guide Ginny, helping her to navigate the challenges and uncertainties she encounters.

Main Characters

Character NameDescription
Ginny BlackstoneThe protagonist and a seventeen-year-old girl who embarks on a journey of self-discovery following her aunt's death. She is initially reserved and unsure of herself but grows in confidence as she explores new places and meets new people.
Aunt PegGinny's eccentric and free-spirited aunt, who serves as a catalyst for her adventure through the thirteen blue envelopes. Though deceased at the start of the novel, Aunt Peg's character is revealed through her letters and the impact she had on Ginny's life.
KeithAn artist and fellow traveler Ginny meets during her journey. Keith becomes both a friend and a romantic interest for Ginny, offering support and encouragement as she navigates her aunt's instructions.

Summary of Different Story Points Over Chapters

Chapter 1-3: The First Envelope

Ginny receives the first envelope, which instructs her to buy a plane ticket to London. Despite her initial reservations, Ginny decides to take the leap and travels to London, where she begins her adventure.

Chapter 4-6: Amsterdam and a Painting

In Amsterdam, Ginny discovers a painting by her aunt and meets Keith, an artist who becomes her companion during her travels. Together, they explore the city and uncover the story behind the painting.

Chapter 7-9: Paris and Shakespeare

Ginny arrives in Paris and meets a group of aspiring actors who are rehearsing a production of Shakespeare's "Twelfth Night." She becomes involved in their play and gains a sense of belonging and purpose.

Chapter 10-12: Rome and a Lost Sculpture

In Rome, Ginny searches for a lost sculpture created by her aunt. Along the way, she learns about the sacrifices artists make for their craft and the importance of following one's passion.

Chapter 13: The Final Envelope

Ginny opens the last envelope, which leads her to her final destination: Aunt Peg's old apartment in New York City. Here, she discovers a letter that reveals Aunt Peg's final message and the impact she had on Ginny's life.

Main Events

  1. Ginny receives the first envelope and travels to London.
  2. Ginny discovers a painting in Amsterdam and meets Keith.
  3. Ginny becomes involved in a theater production in Paris.
  4. Ginny searches for a lost sculpture in Rome.
  5. Ginny opens the final envelope and discovers Aunt Peg's final message.

Themes and Insights

  1. Self-Discovery: Through her journey, Ginny learns more about herself, gaining confidence and discovering her passions and strengths.
  2. Adventure: The novel explores the thrill and transformative power of stepping out of one's comfort zone and embracing new experiences.
  3. Family and Connection: The relationship between Ginny and Aunt Peg highlights the importance of family bonds and the impact loved ones can have on our lives, even after they are gone.
  4. Artistic Expression: The novel delves into the world of art, emphasizing the dedication and sacrifices artists make for their craft.

Reader's Takeaway

"13 Little Blue Envelopes" is a delightful and inspiring read that encourages readers to embrace adventure, follow their passions, and discover their true selves. Through Ginny's journey, readers are reminded of the transformative power of travel, art, and the connections we make along the way.


Maureen Johnson's "13 Little Blue Envelopes" takes readers on a captivating adventure as Ginny Blackstone follows her late Aunt Peg's instructions across Europe. This coming-of-age novel explores themes of self-discovery, adventure, and the importance of family and connection. With its engaging plot and relatable characters, "13 Little Blue Envelopes" is a book that will resonate with readers of all ages, leaving them inspired to embark on their own journey of self-discovery.

13 Little Blue Envelopes FAQ

  1. What is '13 Little Blue Envelopes' about?

    The book follows the story of Ginny, a 17-year-old girl who receives a series of 13 blue envelopes from her late aunt. Each envelope contains a letter with instructions that lead Ginny on a thrilling adventure across Europe.

  2. Who is the author of '13 Little Blue Envelopes'?

    The author of '13 Little Blue Envelopes' is Maureen Johnson.

  3. Is '13 Little Blue Envelopes' part of a series?

    Yes, '13 Little Blue Envelopes' is the first book in a duology. The second book is called 'The Last Little Blue Envelope'.

  4. What genre does '13 Little Blue Envelopes' belong to?

    '13 Little Blue Envelopes' is a young adult contemporary novel.

  5. Is '13 Little Blue Envelopes' suitable for all age groups?

    While the book is primarily targeted towards young adults, it can be enjoyed by readers of all age groups.

  6. Are there any content warnings for '13 Little Blue Envelopes'?

    The book does not contain any explicit content, but it does touch upon themes of grief and self-discovery.

  7. What is the length of '13 Little Blue Envelopes'?

    The paperback edition of '13 Little Blue Envelopes' has approximately 352 pages.

  8. Is there a movie adaptation of '13 Little Blue Envelopes'?

    As of now, there is no movie adaptation of '13 Little Blue Envelopes'.

  9. Where can I purchase '13 Little Blue Envelopes'?

    You can purchase '13 Little Blue Envelopes' from various online retailers such as Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and Book Depository. It is also available in some physical bookstores.

  10. Is there a sequel to '13 Little Blue Envelopes'?

    Yes, there is a sequel to '13 Little Blue Envelopes' called 'The Last Little Blue Envelope'. It continues the story of Ginny's adventures.