Viktoria Jean's Reviews > What Janie Found

What Janie Found by Caroline B. Cooney
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's review
Oct 28, 07

bookshelves: caroline-b-cooney
Recommended for: MILKCARTON KIDS
Read in January, 2005

What Janie Found is the final conclusion to the JANIE Quartet. The story of Janie Johnson first began with Caroline B. Cooney's The Face on the Milk Carton, a book that was made into a TV movie about a teenager who recognizes her own three-year-old face on a milk carton and discovers that she had been kidnapped years before.
Two additional books, What Happened to Janie? and The Voice on the Radio, continued the remarkable story of a girl who somehow needed to blend her present life and family with the life and family from which she had been taken. Readers who followed Janie's trail from the first discovery of her real family to her final decision about which name to use are in for even more revelations in What Janie Found.

The highlight of the series came when Janie thought she had found out her real birth mystery and the kidnapping case that changed her life forever. But then she found more more puzzling clues that did not match her theory then. As Cooney's latest book opens, Janie is as angry as she has ever been. Mr. Johnson has had a stroke; Janie is paying bills for him when she comes across a file and discovers that the life she has so carefully sorted out is in fact a fantasy spun by people who supposedly loved her. Reeve, her former boyfriend, and Brian, the younger brother from her original family, immediately sense a change in Janie and set about trying first to uncover the secret Janie's found and then to help her solve the additional mystery that surfaces. Janie, however, has determined never to let anyone close to her again. A part of Janie feels guilty trying to touch the past and make logic out of her life, but she devises a plan that includes taking Reeve and Brian to visit Brian's older brother, Stephen, in Colorado. Things don't go exactly as planned. Janie and her estranged brother Stephen must grapple with the residue of the long ago kidnapping, searching for ways to reconnect to their families and to each other. By solving this additional mystery, they are able to find a way back home. They simply need to find the courage to do the right thing.
Janie's life also seems to be moving along smoothly as she adjusts to her two sets of parents and learns to love her brothers and sister. While going through files in her father's desk, she makes a startling discovery. This must have been very shocking for Janie, who thought that this mystery was long solved and ended. This discovery takes her, Reeve, and Brian to Boulder to try to find the reason why Hannah Javensen took Janie away from her family so many years ago.
Finding Hannah could mean betrayal and hurt for both of her families. Is it better to forget revenge and leave the past buried, or to try to locate Hannah? The decision she makes will affect both of her family's lives forever. Can they handle any more? Moreover, can Janie handle dredging up the past, or is it time to forgive?
In the end, she pays Hannah the full amount of 'ransom' her adoptive parents had paid all these years. And the story ends with her saying that she had found her true family. This is the beauty in the Janie Quartet, lying among the twists and ups and downs of the plot, and I believe was also what the author had hoped to find in writing the series- Finding your one true place. Home. I felt glad when Janie finally discovered the full set of the truth, despite many heartbreaks and pauses in her pursue of the truth. What she got in the end was just as good a reward.

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