I wanted to like this book. No, I wanted to love this book. I’ve heard amazing things about Maureen Johnson, I was absolutely certain that I would love this book. The premise alone was captivating – a P.S. I Love You/coming of age story for teens… Unfortunately, this book fell flat. Way flat. Where do I begin? While reading the book, I took to jotting down the things that bugged me about the story/characters, so I think I’ll just start there.
1. Maureen Johnson wrote this book as though her readers intimately knew Ginny from the beginning and because of this, she had zero character building. None at all. 129 pages in, and I cannot confidently tell you one thing that I know about Ginny. Okay, that isn’t true. She has brown hair and all of her toiletries are pink. That is about it. Ginny never shares an ounce of emotion and has about as much personality as a cardboard box.
2. The lack of emotion. Imagine, please: your beloved aunt dies from cancer (a cancer that she didn’t even tell you that she had), sends you a series of envelopes to help you “find yourself,” and expects you to embark on an insane journey. How would you react? First all, I’d be devastated and heart broken. Not only did Peg die, but she fled from her family and failed to tell them about her disease. Secondly, I’d be pissed that she had failed to notify me. Third, I’d be extremely frustrated that she thought that 13 letters would be enough to compensate and explain her decision. And last, I’d be annoyed that she expected me to go, let alone assumed that I needed help finding myself. How does Ginny react? “La la la la, that’s just Aunt Peg, guess I gotta buy a back pack!”
3. Ginny is 17 years old. In what universe would a mother allow her daughter to go to Europe alone? With no concrete living arrangements (other than what her deceased sister has arranged)? With no money… and express instructions to avoid electronic communication at all cost… I am 23 and my mother would be nervous about me going across the state by myself, let alone a foreign country with no money or way of contacting her.
4. Who the HECK is Miriam? Ginny randomly writes to her, and mentions her… but never explains who Miriam is. As far as I’m concerned, Miriam is her pet hamster.