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Whatever Happened to Janie?

Review

Whatever Happened to Janie?

Janie Johnson has spent most of her 15 years wishing her name were different, more interesting, and more exotic. Now that a bizarre series of events has sent her to live with her real family in New Jersey, she desperately wishes she had been satisfied with her old name. Since seeing her picture on a milk carton, Janie feels that she has been pulled away from the only parents she has known and thrown into a family of strangers. She has to learn to live as Jennie Spring, with brothers and a sister.

However, she is having trouble adjusting to her new home. She is, after all, only an insecure teenager trying to fit into a family that is so different from what she has known all of her life. She doesn't want to share a room with her sister Jodie. She doesn't like her older brother Stephen, and the twins, Brendan and Brian, are only nuisances. She is tired of trying to be noble. She longs to return home.  

Then the police and the FBI come with their version of how Hannah, who joined a cult many years before, abducted Janie and took her home to her parents, the Javensens. The Javensens believed that Janie was Hannah's child, but when Hannah returned to the cult the Javensens changed their name to Johnson and moved, so the leader of the cult wouldn't be able to find Janie. The FBI is looking for Hannah and plan to charge her with kidnapping. Janie will have to testify.

It is time for Janie to become Jennie and to accept her new family. Will she be able to do this? And, how far-fetched is Jodie and Stephen Spring's decision to find Hannah in New York City and punish her for breaking up their family?

The emotions of love, hate, and anger race through the pages of WHATEVER HAPPENED TO JANIE? The characters are as real as they were in THE FACE ON THE MILK CARTON. Again, Janie must make a gut-wrenching decision that will forever change the lives of her two families.

Reviewed by Audrey Marie Danielson on October 1, 1994

Whatever Happened to Janie?
by Caroline B. Cooney