Thursday, July 5

13 Little Blue Envelopes

by Maureen Johnson
Harper Teen 2005

I sincerely doubt that I could possibly add anything to the din of reviews that have been generated over this book in the past couple of years. That said, I did read it, and this is what I'm thinking.

I'm thinking about how, when you're a kid with a creative or artistic bent, you keep hoping you've got some secret benefactor that's going to send you on a journey of discovery; or how a patron is magically going to hone in on your secret inner thoughts and just know what it is you need and give you all the tools necessary to achieve total inner success and happiness; or about how no one understands you but maybe someone does out there and, despite any discomfort, they'll not only be able to call you on your faults but give you the inner strength to actualize your inner butterfly;

Or perhaps you've reached the end of high school and you've earned your jaded cynicism and you know that, no matter how "perfect," answers to the questions you have about your future don't magically get solved in the course of a single trip abroad; how you get to that point where you become a "realist" in the sense that, as nice as the fantasy is, the underlying truth is that no one is ever really given that chance to freely explore their young adult world without developing homesickness or at the very least becoming bored because -- let's face it -- there's nothing romantic about being 18 and aimless;

And for the sake of argument, even if you read a book where a crazy dead aunt left you envelopes with instructions to retrace her final footsteps, and despite your inner cynic you sort of find yourself wishing you could follow on a trip like that yourself; and even if you gave in and ignored all the chance and allowed for the possibility that you'd come out okay in the end, you still secretly hope that the protagonist falls apart in the end and settles for a dull "no place like home" scenario even though you know that would be sad and wrong;

And after all that, no matter how old and crusty you may be, or how young and idealistic, you still might not want to admit to certain bone-deep truths.

Like how much you enjoyed the book.

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