Review: Whatever Happened to Janie?

December 2, 2011 Whitney Review 1 Comment

Review: Whatever Happened to Janie?Whatever Happened to Janie by Caroline B. Cooney
Series: Janie Johnson #2
Published by Delacorte Press on May 1, 1993
Genres: Young Adult
Source: Library

No one ever paid attention to the faces of missing children on milk cartons. But as Janie Johnson glanced at the face of the little girl who had been taken twelve years ago, she recognized that little girl--it was herself.

The mystery of the kidnapping is unraveled, but the nightmare is not over. The Spring family wants justice, but who is to blame? It's difficult to figure out what's best for everyone.

Janie Johnson or Jennie Spring? There's enough love for everyone, but how can the two separate families live happily ever after?

The Springs, are decent people who had the worst luck fall upon them, obviously after hearing their daughter is alive and well welcome her back with open arms.  Unfortunately, Janie is unwilling to accept these changes and chooses to live in her seemingly perfect past. Most of the story revolves around Janie’s adjustment, and whenever she takes one step forward, she takes two steps back.  Just when I thought she was making progress and may end with a perfect family of seven she had to go do something stupid like instigate a fight.   Moments like these brought the Spring’s world crashing down once more and when there were no screaming matches the book was compiled of memories/flashbacks of the kidnapping and waves of tears.

I felt a big theme of Whatever Happened to Janie? was that “the grass is greener on the other side”.  From the minute Janie crosses the threshold to her new home she sees the drastic dissimilarities between the Johnsons and the Springs and yearns for her quiet, simpler life in Connecticut.  Because of these constant compressions Janie became Noname, weaving between two separate lives  for which I felt sorry for.  Then again, she reminded me of a three-year-old who isn’t getting her way, stomping her foot until the adults finally give in. In the end there really is no winner here, everyone’s lives were affected for better or for worse twelve years ago, and Jennie being found doesn’t make it any easier. Whatever Happened to Janie is a powerful sequel to The Face on the Milk Carton.



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