The Face On the Milk Carton
Caroline B Cooney
I don’t know what you’re thinking after you’ve read the title. Maybe you’ve read ahead and are already deciding whether to read this book or not. Well there are 4 books about Janie, so if you decide you know enough from this story, you can just read the 2nd, 3rd or 4th books.
This book and this series are focusing on an ordinary 15-year-old named Janie. She has flouncy, wild red hair. Janie has ordinary parents that might be just a little bit overprotective. She has no brothers or sisters. She has two best friend named Adele and Sarah-Charlotte. She also has a crush on the boy-next-door, Reeve Shields. As the book proceeds Janie will date Reeve.
One ordinary day, Janie is sitting in the school cafeteria. Janie is lactose intolerant, which means she can’t have dairy products. But she sees a MISSING picture of a little 3-year-old girl with red hair and tight pigtails, in a pink and white polka dotted dress. She was stolen at a shopping center in New Jersey. Her name is Jennie Spring. Janie remembers that dress with the pink and white polka dots.
Later she finds a box in the attic with the name Hannah on it. No one in her family is named Hannah. And in that box is the dress with the pink-and-white polka dots. So who’s Hannah and are her parents that she loved all her life (or maybe not), kidnappers?
Her parents realize that she’s found something and tell her, Hannah was their daughter, but when she was 16, she left and joined a religious cult. She never came back to her parents, until one day she showed up hand-in-hand with a little girl in a polka-dot-dress. Hannah says that this is her daughter Janie. She says that she won’t be able to raise her well within the cult, so take her, enjoy her.
But something still doesn’t add up. The milk carton says that she was STOLEN from New Jersey. So are her parents still lying? Janie has very mixed feelings.
Janie doesn’t share this with anybody but Reeve, her new boyfriend. So one day, in Reeve’s jeep, they decide to skip school. They go to New Jersey and find the Springs’ address. They see two tall redheaded boys walk in. Janie remembers baby twins. She doesn’t want to believe her own memories. How could her loving parents be kidnappers?
Later, they put the story together. Hannah was going home to take a break from the cult and stopped a New Jersey shopping center. She saw a 3-year-old girl in a pink-and-white-polka-dot-dress who seemed to be pouting. She gave her ice cream and then took her for a ride… That’s how she ended up taking Janie (A. K. A. Jennie Spring) to her parents, the Johnsons. She said that it was her own daughter, you can be better parents, enjoy her. Enjoy her, oh how they did! Raised her like their own girl, tried so hard not to make a mistake, like they feared they did with Hannah. And now – Janie is calling New Jersey.
My library doesn’t have the second book, so I started reading the third one, and from it I understood, that Janie went to live with her real family in New Jersey, behaved like a brat, treating them like scum and then went back to the Johnson’s. Now THAT is bad. If your little girl has been missing for twelve years, you’ve been worrying about her for twelve years, and when she is found, when she finally comes back to you, she says that she likes her other family and her other life better. Now, how would you feel? I mean, I understand Janie’s position, but she could at least respect them. She could at least TRY to be a good daughter…