Ginny is a 17-year-old who embarks on a journey left to her by her eccentric Aunt Peg. After her death, Peg left Ginny a sent of 13 little blue envelopes and some very strange instructions. In the first is some money to get to NYC and then London and the rules: she can only bring a backpack, she is not allowed to bring any guidebooks, she cannot bring any extra money, and she is not allowed to use electronics, which includes contacting the U.S. by any other means than letters or postcards. She can also only open the next envelope when the task in the previous one is complete.
The tasks and letters are meant to let Ginny understand her aunt a little better, and hopefully teach her some things about life. Some of the tasks are not the best, and at least one could have ended up badly. There are things that Peg did not account for, both good and bad. Some of the tasks are things that anyone could try, and should, while some were very specific. But Ginny, and therefore the reader, does get to understand Peg better.
A lot of the places that Ginny went are familiar to me, at least a little bit. I’ve been to every city that Ginny went to except the last one. So the general feeling of each city is something I remember. I’ve seen some of the art she saw, I’ve been to the big landmarks. I even backpacked around Europe a bit, so that part was familiar too. I’ve gotten lost in a city where I don’t speak the language, and I’ve done things that probably would have gotten me in trouble if we’d been caught. I’ve been the über tourist and I’ve wandered around on my own a bit.
I’m trying to decide if I would have liked being Ginny in this situation. On one hand, I like travelling. The idea of opening up an envelope and being sent to a mysterious place on a mysterious task is appealing. The lack of guide books or technology or research is not. I’m a planner. If there was still any real money in it, I would be a fantastic travel agent. I like researching places and knowing where to go and what to see. I’m more like the Knapp’s (the über tourists), I suppose, only a little less energetic. (And yes, I have looked up the menu of a restaurant I’ve never been to ahead of time!) If I’m going to go somewhere only once in my life, I’m going to see all of the things! It’s better in my book to know where all of the things are so you can pick and choose if you end up running out of time to see all of them. I even like to have a plan for places I have been to before, even if it’s just a rough one. (Ale and fantingviolet can attest to that!)
This fulfills the CBR12 Bingo square of “Nostalgia” as it was written in 2005 (I was 19) and it kind of feels like it takes place in the late 1990’s – early 2000’s. Plus, it brought back memories!