Sunday 16 December 2012

351. Face on the Milk Carton by Caroline B Cooney

Face on the Milk Carton by Caroline B Cooney
This edition published December 2012 Random House

From the publisher:
 No one ever really paid close attention to the faces of the missing children on the milk cartons. But as Janie Johnson glanced at the face of the ordinary little girl with her hair in tight pigtails, wearing a dress with a narrow white collar--a three-year-old who had been kidnapped twelve years before from a shopping mall in New Jersey--she felt overcome with shock. She recognized that little girl--it was she. How could it possibly be true? Janie can't believe that her loving parents kidnapped her, but as she begins to piece things together, nothing makes sense. Something is terribly wrong. Are Mr. and Mrs. Johnson really her parents? And if not, who is Janie Johnson, and what really happened?

OK, so it's late in the year, and here I am reading a book that was originally written in 1990, and I have read it before. I am including it because I did read it again, partly to see how it stands the test of time and also because there is a book 5 coming out next year, and I wanted to start jogging my memory.

This is such a great story and I am happy it, and it's sequels are being re-released.  The story starts off  with a regular all-American teenager, she has lots of friends, does OK in school, has a nice house, good parents.  Her biggest problems are getting enough driving practise, so she can get her license and figuring out how she feels about the boy next door.  Her world changes dramatically on one normal day in the school cafeteria. The local dairy where Janie lives, puts pictures of stolen children on the sides of milk cartons, hoping they will be identified.  Janie has a milk allergy, so she doesn't usually take much notice, but on this one particular day she does, and she realises that the girl on the link carton is her. She was stolen from a New Jersey shopping centre 10 years earlier.

As this all starts to sink in, Janie starts to have flashes of memories about herself as a little girl called Jennie Spring.  She remembers that she has brothers and sisters, and she remembers walking away with a lady with long dark hair.  Janie has no idea what to do with this information, and the only person she can turn to is Reeve, the boy next door.  With his help she has to figure out what to do with this information, knowing that confronting her parents will turn her life and theirs upside down.  There are a few twists to the story, as just as we think we know what happened to Janie, more information comes to light and the Johnson family realise this is bigger than they imagined, and they have to decide what action to take.

I am happy to say that even though this book was written in 1990, it hasn't dated.  The only thing is that there were no mobile phones, so when Janie has to call her parents, she has to find a phone box.  there was also a mention of cassettes, that some readers may not recognise, but they are only little passing comments, and not integral to the storyline.  I will note that while there isn't any sex in the book, when Reeve and Janie start going out, there is a bit of talk about sex, so you may need to keep that in mind.

The previously published books are all being re-released, all with covers that match the new book, Janie Face to Face, which comes out in mid January 2013. The Face on the Milk Carton (1990) Whatever Happened to Janie? (1993) The Voice On The Radio (1996) What Janie Found (2000).

Who will like this book: Girls age 15+
Read it if you like: Girl, Missing by Sophie McKenzie

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