Now, I follow Maureen Johnson’s blog and twitter, and she is very funny. 😀 I was expecting a very lighthearted, slightly absurd book when I picked this up. I didn’t get that. I got something much better.
The premise of the story consists of something I used to wish desperately would happen to me when I was smaller. Ginny’s Aunt Peg has given her a thousand dollars and instructions to fly to england, where she is met with a bank card and thirteen little blue envelopes. Challenges she
has to gets to perform while traveling around Europe. (Kind of a personal amazing race. :D)
So she does the challenges, which are insane and hilarious, and really pushing Ginny outside of her comfort zone. I don’t want to spoil them for you, so I’m not going to talk about the challenges. (Lion tattoo, lolz.) I’m going to talk about WHY she goes through with them. You see, Ginny has always admired her madcap, artistic aunt.
And Aunt Peg recently died of a brain tumour. This “challenge” is what she left Ginny in her estate.
When I met it, that- for me- was the first sign that the story wasn’t going to be the carefree romp I expected. There is hilarious humour and it made me want to travel, yes, but that’s also right smack up there side by side with the understanding that people you love die. Die unexpectedly, on the other side of the world, without coming home, none the less.
I’m gonna be a bit macabre here, and say I loved how the book dealt with death. Everyone reacted in a very realistic way- or what I could consider a realistic way. They weren’t noisy about it, and they got mad at the person who was gone, and they did things that looked like “moving on,” or even forgetting, while really keeping the person well in their memories.
It really made me want to read more books set in the “real world” (e.g. not fantasy,) if they could balance the understandings that life is hilarious, and embarrassing, and miserable, and full of love, and wonderful, and you can love people even when they are far from perfect. (Very far from perfect.) I gave it four stars out of five. (Also I loved how the romance, while important, wasn’t the central focus of everything. 😀 It was just in the background of everything. Which is way more awesome.)