Can someone please write a summary about The Face on the Milk Carton?

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edcon eNotes educator| Certified Educator

After a series of child abductions in the Midwest in the 1980s, an Iowa dairy put pictures of missing children on milk cartons as a public service.  It quickly became a national phenomenon for a number of years.  Caroline Cooney's 1990 novel is part of the Janie Johnson series of young adult books. Its protagonist, Janie Johnson, spots a picture of her younger self on a milk carton at her school.

Seeing the picture of herself sparks flashbacks for Janie.  She remembers the dress from the picture and the vague outlines of relationships with other children and adults. After finding the dress in the attic, she conducts some research and discovers news stories about the abduction of a girl from a New Jersey mall some years before.  When she confronts her parents with this information and her suspicions, they tell her that she is actually their granddaughter and that her mother is their older daughter, Hannah.  Hannah told them that she was forced into a relationship in a cult she lived in and that the cult would try to take her daughter Janie away if they knew where she was.

Ultimately, Janie's desire to know more leads her to the family of the abducted girl who is, in fact, herself.  The family resemblance is too strong to deny.  The truth emerges: it was Hannah who abducted Janie. Janie feels relief that the parents who raised her are not kidnappers, and at the book's end, she is set to speak to her biological family with her adoptive parents' blessing.

mkcapen1 | Student

The Face on the Milk Carton is the story of a teen age girl who sees her picture on a school milk carton and realizes that she is a missing child that had been kidnapped.  Janie is a well-adjusted red-haired teen who has been raised by loving parents who she trusts and adores.  She has been raised as an only child. 

Janie begins to question when her parents had her and why there were no baby pictures of her.  While snooping she comes across the dress she had worn in the milk carton picture.  She begins to have long lost memory recall. 

Janie struggles to come to terms with her kidnapping and her parent's involvement in the incident.  She shifts between moods and the desire to reveal the situation to her parets while trying to cope on her own.  She has the support of Reeve, her neighbor, to love and help guide her in telling her parents the truth.

In the end Janie has come to terms with what had happened and is ready to contact her natural parents.  The parents who had raised her believe they are her grandparents and that they had taken her to safety away from their daughter who was trying to escape from a cult.  It turns out that their daughter had kidnapped Janie when Janie was 3 and 1/2.

The story ends with Janie calling her natural parents and telling them who she is on the phone.

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The Face on the Milk Carton

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