Katherine Longshore 4 Tuesday, July 05, 2011

I love summer.  Always have.  (Though truth be told, autumn is my favorite season.)  I love watermelon, long days and the beach. 

Especially the beach.

And I love “beach reads”.  To me, these are books I choose solely because they speak to some part of me that doesn’t always get fed.  When I was schlepping coffee in order to bide my time between adventures, I read travelogues – descriptions of places I would travel to when I found the opportunity (and the money).  When my first child was just a little baby, I devoured English chick lit – books about young professionals, living the high life and wearing fabulous clothes.  When my kids were toddlers, I read Dan Brown – adventure and culture all blended into one fast-paced read (that I could always pick up where I left off, no matter how long the distraction).  When I was a preschool teacher, I read history – in an effort to make myself feel like I was learning something, too (the learning curve for 3-5 year olds is incredibly steep, you know).

These days, I’m in an incredible sweet spot.  My career as an author really depends on me reading the words of others.  And it’s all stuff I love to read – mostly YA with some middle grade, adult, and history thrown in. 

But I’ve begun to realize that I’m trying to keep up with the incredible influx of YA by reading books that are recently published.  Which leaves me with holes in my backlist.  So this summer, I’m spending quite a bit of time catching up.

My first choice kind of combined all of my “beach read” loves from the past.  13 LITTLE BLUE ENVELOPES by Maureen Johnson is a travelogue, chick lit, adventure-culture extravaganza (with a little bit of history thrown in for good measure). 

From Goodreads:
When Ginny receives thirteen little blue envelopes and instructions to buy a plane ticket to London, she knows something exciting is going to happen. What Ginny doesn't know is that she will have the adventure of her life and it will change her in more ways than one. Life and love are waiting for her across the Atlantic, and the thirteen little blue envelopes are the key to finding them in this funny, romantic, heartbreaking novel.

Ginny travels from London to Italy to Paris to Amsterdam to Denmark to Greece and back again, carrying a ginormous green and purple backpack. (Side note:  Mine was just green – but at least I remembered a towel.  The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy prepared me well.)

Johnson covers not only the beauty and overwhelming otherness of international travel well, but also the day-to-day discoveries of backpacking, searching for hostels, train travel, meeting new (and often eccentric) people.  This part of the novel reminded me so much of my very first adventure that I couldn’t put the book down, wanting to know where Ginny would go next and what she would encounter.

But Ginny also discovers love and loss, responsibility and rule-breaking, beauty and squalor.  Her journey is not only a spatial one, but also emotional, and Johnson deftly blends them into a story that is so much more than just travel or romance.

The only problem with reading 13 LITTLE BLUE ENVELOPES?  It made me want to dig out my dirty green backpack and catch the next train.


I also loved this book! The sequel, THE LAST LITTLE BLUE ENVELOPE is even better! :-)

I actually JUST got this book (and the sequel!). Glad to hear that they're perfect summer reads :)

I hope you like it, Hayley! And Laura, I'm going to have to get the sequel now, too!

Really love to stay in a beach during holidays or spending day off.

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