Whatever Happened to Janie? by Caroline B. Cooney
Genre: Juvenile Fiction
Published in 1993
Recommended Age Group: 14 and Up
Summary: Whatever Happened to Janie? is the sequel to The Face on the Milk Carton. Janie was kidnapped when she was three by a woman named Hannah Javensen. Hannah gave Janie to her parents telling them that Janie was her (Hannah’s) child. Frank and Miranda Javensen moved and changed their name to Johnson fearing that Hannah, or the cult she was a member of, would come and take Janie back. When Janie found her picture on the milk carton and discovered the truth behind what happened she called her birth family. That is where the last book ends. This book begins with Janie’s (real name Jennie Spring) birth family and their story of struggle through the years after their daughter Jennie was kidnapped. The family became extra cautious with the four other children fearing that they might disappear as well. They didn’t know what happened to Janie/Jennie. They didn’t know that she was alive or safe or happily living with another family under a different name. After they got the phone call from Janie it was decided that she should return to live with them and go by her original name, Jennie.
It was a big adjustment for everyone. Mr. and Mrs. Johnson did not know the truth so they had their little girl taken from them like they were being punished when all they did was love and care for her. Janie now Jennie was just trying to do what’s right by calling her family and telling them she was safe. She never expected that she would have to move and change her name. The Spring family was excited to have their baby back and they all had grand ideas about what it would be like. Most of those ideas were wrong. Jennie tried in spurts to get along with the family but her heart wasn’t in it. She missed her other parents and friends and she was worried that she only had so much love, that if she loved this family she wouldn’t be able to love her other parents.
In the end Jennie decides to keep being Janie and to go back and life with the Johnsons. The Springs were really hurt and Stephen and Jodie, the two oldest, decide to take revenge on Hannah the kidnapper. They heard she was in New York City so they get on a train from them Connecticut home and go to the Big Apple to find one person. Of course when they get there they are overwhelmed by the amount of people, especially the homeless which they figure Hannah will be a part of since the cult disbanded. They don’t find her but they figure with all the trouble she’s had in her life she has been punished enough for her crime.
Personal Notes: I was disappointed at the last book ending so abruptly with the phone call and couldn’t wait to read this one. It was so interesting because it dealt with both families feelings on inner thoughts. Their struggles were different but really a lot a like. Everyone just wanted love and acceptance and everyone just wanted to make it right. The problem was that no one knew how. Janie wanted to love her family but didn’t want to give up on the parents that raised her. There are two other books in this series and I can’t wait to read those to. Hopefully it all gets worked out by the last one.
Other reviews available: