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Literature / Thirteen Little Blue Envelopes

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Thirteen Little Blue Envelopes is a Young Adult novel by Maureen Johnson.

Aunt Peg has always been eccentric, fun, and sweet. She also died a few months ago, but a packet of thirteen letters from her have arrived to her niece Ginny. Ginny is traveling alone for the first time ever, to honor Aunt Peg's wishes. Each letter has a destination in Europe, and instructions for Ginny to follow.

Tropes for this book include:


  • Anguished Declaration of Love: In one of her letters, Aunt Peg admits that she loved Richard.
  • Bittersweet Ending: Ginny manages to complete Aunt Peg's quest, come to terms with her aunt's death, and claim the inheritance that Peg sent her: all the profits from auctioning off Peg's paintings. She and Richard bond over their love for Peg, and that he's her uncle by marriage. Even so, the last envelope gets stolen, Peg is still death, and her relationship with Keith is uncertain.
  • The Cake Is a Lie: Amusingly, it involves literal cake; Peg tells Ginny in a letter to ask out an Italian for cake. Ginny does, only the guy takes her out for gelato instead. Then he feels her up at his apartment, and she runs away before it can go any further.
  • Cloud Cuckoo Lander: Aunt Peg was one in life. She ran away a week before she was supposed to attend Mount Holyoke, then withdrew her acceptance to attend a small college that didn't give out grades.
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  • Cloud Cuckoolander Minder: Ginny's mother tried to be one for Aunt Peg. Peg refused to be minded, however, which was why she ran off to Europe. Richard was better able to help Aunt Peg.
  • Epic Fail: Aunt Peg at "normal" jobs tended to make these mistakes that got her fired. While managing an art store, she accidentally ordered three hundred instead of thirty nonrefundable expensive art easels. While temping at a call agency, she cursed out the owner thinking it was a prank call. In her letter to Ginny, she admits she never showed up to her job the day she decided to fly to England because she forgot the address.
  • Five Stages of Grief:
    • Ginny is in Denial for most of the book about Peg's death. She deals with her grief by following the envelopes' instructions. By the end, she's moved onto Anger and Acceptance; she writes an angry letter to Aunt Peg at the end but also thanks her for giving Ginny this list of quests.
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    • Richard meanwhile has moved on to the Acceptance stage a long time ago. He married Aunt Peg so that she could get healthcare, and so they could have some time together.
  • Nice to the Waiter: Using the money that Peg transferred to her, Ginny tries to fulfill one of Peg's task by buying all the tickets to Keith's show. He's so touched that he takes her out to dinner in turn, hosts her, and finds her in Paris. Much later on, when Ginny inherits Peg's fortune from the auction of paintings, she uses it to buy the Harrods chocolate counter lady her favorite box of chocolates.
  • Sequel Hook: The last envelope gets stolen before Ginny can read it.

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