Review: Janie Face to Face

March 6, 2013 Whitney Review 4 Comments

Review: Janie Face to FaceJanie Face to Face by Caroline B. Cooney
Series: Janie Johnson #5
on January 8, 2013
Genres: Young Adult
Source: Library

Janie Johnson has received unwanted attention ever since she recognized her three-year-old self in a picture on the back of a milk carton and learned that she was the victim of a kidnapping. Now she's headed for college in New York City, where she can move forward with her life.

But not everyone wants to leave the past behind.

One by one, the people closest to Janie are contacted by a true-crime writer with his own ideas about who the real victim of Janie's kidnapping is. Janie's parents, sister, brothers, and friends can agree to be interviewed, in the hopes of bringing the kidnapper to justice, or they can refuse to talk in order to protect Janie's privacy. When Janie finds out what's going on, there's only one person she can imagine confiding in: her ex-boyfriend, Reeve. Can she count on him now, though he's betrayed her in the past?

Janie's kidnapper, who has been in hiding all these years, is just as desperate to become a new person. When additional information about Janie begins to appear online, the kidnapper comes up with a terrifying plan.

In this thrilling conclusion to the Janie series, which began with The Face on the Milk Carton, Caroline B. Cooney explores the meaning of family, the fragility of trust, and the healing power of unconditional love.

I loved the Janie books when I was younger. I first read The Face on the Milk Carton when I was 10 (so 1995) but it was first published in 1990. Notice that I said 1990.

Caroline B. Cooney released the fifth and last Janie book this year, Janie is now 20 and in college with all the modern amenities of 2013. Remember how I said it started in 1990? I can actually recall Jennie Spring’s birth date being 1970 something. How did we go from Janie using a payphone to call her Connecticut parents to “Hi I’m Janie, I have an iphone, ipad, ereader and a Facebook page.” Either Caroline B. Cooney did the math wrong (timeline wise it should be early 2000s) or Janie was a super-senior several times over. This child from the 90s found it irksome.

So the storyline, Janie goes to college going under the name Jane and running as far away from her kidnaped persona as possible. That is until she receives a letter from a true crime writer who wants to write a book on Jennie Spring.

Jane flees to the comfort of her new boyfriend Michael who is not at all what he seems despite Janie thinking he is “the one”. That is one thing that bothered me about this last installment, I always knew Janie was a limp noodle but I got a 1950s vibe from her, that the sole point of going to college was to find a husband, have a passel of kids and let your degree collect dust on the shelf, setting the women’s movement back several years. Then the inevitable happens, Janie break-up with Michael after learning he’s in cahoots with the true crime writer and gets engaged to her rebound — Reeve Shields.

Remember Reeve? The guy who sold her out to further his career in radio? Well, she took him back. The rest (or majority) of the book is Janie running around like a chicken with her head cut off, planning a wedding in ten days. All while having an identity crises, should I get married as Janie Johnson or Jennie Spring?

Another thing that bothered me was Jennie choosing her biological family and dropping her “kidnaped” parents. I think it’s great that she reconnect with the Springs but to turn a 360 and drop the Johnsons like yesterday’s news came off as poor taste and Janie looking like a bitch.

Hannah is also part of the narrative, therefore giving the reader more depth into the kidnapping, really tying up loose ends. Crazy, delusional Hannah held some of my favorite parts in the book and wish there had been more of them.

Everything is neatly tied in a bow, Hannah is caught and Janie Johnson becomes Jennie Spring, who becomes Jennie Spring-Shields.

At the end of Janie Face to Face, “Janie Johnson vanished for good”. As did my enthusiasm for this book.


4 responses to “Review: Janie Face to Face

  1. Janie Face to Face was a little bizarre, or maybe hectic would be a better word. I thought the first two books were great (The Face on the Milk Carton and Whatever Happened to Janie?) but this last lacked something to be desired due to the discrepancies I found in this book.

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