Whatever Happened to Janie

Whatever Happened to Janie by Caroline B. Cooney

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Whatever Happened to Janie? That’s what everyone wants to know.

After finding out that she was kidnapped twelve years ago, and that Mommy and Daddy Johnson aren’t her biological parents, Janie’s life is more than a little disheveled. It’s downright upside down.

So when she’s forced by a court order to leave the only home she’s ever known and move in with her biological family in the wilds of New Jersey, Janie is miserable. Moving means leaving behind everyone she loves. Leaving means making room in her life and in her heart for people she barely knows.

Trying to put her best foot forward and make Mommy and Daddy Johnson proud, Janie tries her hardest to fit in. She tries to be pleasant towards Jodi, her older sister who wants so desperately to have some sort of relationship with her new-found sister. She tries to stay out of Stephen’s way, her old brother who is boiling over with Janie-filled anger. She tries to encourage and support the Brian and Brendan, the twins who share one identity. But most of all, she tries to accept her real parents.

But Janie isn’t doing such a great job at fitting in. There just isn’t enough room and love in her heart for another family, a family that she really doesn’t belong to. Will Janie find her place with the Springs? Or will she go running back to the Johnson’s?

Whatever Happened to Janie is the second installment in Cooney’s beloved Janie Johnson series. Picking up where The Face on the Milk Carton leaves off, this installment offers more.

Readers continue to learn and understand about Janie Johnson, the series main character. As much as the book focuses on Janie and her feelings the book also examines the feeling and the people around her. Specifically the Spring family, the biological family that Janie really belongs with.

By examining the feelings of her biological parents and her new brothers and sister, Cooney’s main character is brought to life. In The Face on the Milk Carton, I was left feeling that Janie was whiney and even borderline annoying. After reading Whatever Happened to Janie I have a better understanding of her. Not to mention how her feelings affected the Spring family.

What I really enjoyed about this second book is the fact that readers will get to learn, not only more about Janie, but more about all the characters involved. Once again Cooney does a fantastic job at really fleshing out a character. All of the new characters – the Spring family – introduced to Janie and into Janie’s world are realistic, and are flawed.

Cooney’s writing is, once again, the true shining star of Whatever Happened to Janie. She’s a real wordsmith who creates tension on every page. Besides the tension, Cooney answers all the burning questions readers have leftover from The Face on The Milk Carton, while introducing new ones in Whatever Happened to Janie.

To say the least, I enjoyed Whatever Happened to Janie a lot more than I did The Face on the Milk Carton. After reading I felt like all of Janie’s whining and actions in the first Janie Johnson book were finally justified.

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