Thursday, May 12, 2011

Review: The Last Little Blue Envelope by Maureen Johnson

Tags: YA, contemporary, Europe, art


Ginny thought it was all over—that the last blue envelope containing the last letter from her dead artist aunt Peg, stolen along with her backpack when she was in Greece, was lost forever. But then a mysterious boy named Oliver contacts her, saying that he has her letters. Turns out that the last letter contains one final task for Ginny to complete, and Oliver insists that he wants Ginny to split the profits from this last piece of artwork with him. After all, he is the one who has the letter. How can she disagree?

To her shock, Keith—and his new girlfriend, Ellis—insist on tagging along for this one last intercontinental adventure. Over the course of one Christmas break, Ginny, along with old and new friends, retraces her footsteps and discovers the ultimate lesson that Aunt Peg wishes to remind her of.


I’ll be honest: I was one of those readers that was very happy with how 13 Little Blue Envelopes ended, and never thought to ask for a sequel. Nervously I began this sequel to one of my favorite books of all time, and happily I can say that TLLBE lived up to my expectations for a Maureen Johnson novel.

I was a little skeptical of how different Aunt Peg’s thirteenth letter was from her previous twelve (in terms of length and vision), but it was insightful nevertheless. THE LAST LITTLE BLUE ENVELOPE focuses less, I think, on the excitement of a cross-Europe adventure and more on character development. All the characters, while not particularly deep, are still very likable, even if you feel like the situation should call for us to hate them.

THE LAST LITTLE BLUE ENVELOPE lightheartedly inspires us to question the permanence of adolescent emotions. Oftentimes YA novels make us believe that their happy endings will last forever: Ginny’s second adventure beautifully illustrates how things can change unexpectedly but still wonderfully. And that’s all I want to say so that I don’t spoil anything!

My final thoughts? Worth reading if you loved the first book (and if you haven’t read that yet, you should). It takes on a different tone than 13 Little Blue Envelopes, but is still unexpectedly delightful, and will have you clamoring for a third book.

Cover discussion: I'm not really a fan. That girl is just not Ginny for me, and the posing is soooooo... posed!

HarperTeen / April 26, 2011 / Hardcover / 304pp. / $16.99

For e-review from NetGalley and HarperCollins.


  1. I recently read the first book & was not pleased with it. My review for it was on my blog yesterday, actually. Hearing you speak about the character development in the second book gives me hope. I think that's what fell flat for me in the first one. I will definitely give this one a try, since I'm curious to know what is inside that 13th envelope!!

  2. Yeah, I was one of those readers who didn't really need a sequel either. I liked it well enough, it was a fun read, but this sounds interesting. I'm curious to see what Ginny's aunt says. I like the cover, but I agree with you, it does look incredibly posed. At least her head isn't cut off.

  3. Great review! I absolutely LOVED 13 Little Blue Envelopes, and it was the book that made me love Maureen Johnson. It's really rare that sequels manage to live up to (or even surpass) the first, so I'll definitely have to look into The Last Little Blue Envelope! I was also happy with 13 LBE's ending, but this review has got me changing my mind...

  4. I love Maureen Johnson's books! I was also happy with the way the first one ended, but still wondered about what the last envelope said. I'm looking forward to reading the next one. I've never really been a fan of the covers of Maureen Johnson's books because they just seem kind of girly and cheesy. I do however really like the cover for The Name of the Star.

  5. I just finished this one and loved it! I actually didn't finish the first one (because I was stupid enough to skip to the end and then lost interest - I skimmed it). I want to go back and re-read it now. This book was so wonderful. I really liked how Oliver evolved as did Keith. I would like to see what happens with Ginny and Oliver in the future, if anything.


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