The Face on the Milk Carton Questions and Answers
by Caroline B. Cooney, Caroline Bruce

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What are some inferences someone can make from the first chapter?

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In The Face on the Milk Carton by Caroline B. Cooney, some inferences that one can make from the first chapter is that Janie Johnson has had a happy and normal childhood and that she is a well-adjusted teenager who lives in a loving and nurturing home. We can also infer that her parents love one another, just as they love Janie. The author writes,

Setting themselves up like a debate team, her mother and father would argue until some invisible marital timer rang. Then they would come to terms, rushing to meet in the middle.

Janie does well in school. She has a caring group of friends with whom she eats lunch every day. They have known one another for years, so they understand one another. In the book, Janie also has a best friend, Reeve, who eventually becomes her boyfriend. He is the typical boy next door, and he actually lives next door to the Johnsons. He and Janie have grown up together. Therefore, they know one another’s families and also understand one another’s emotions.

Janie is a young adult and her parents are nostalgic over the baby she once was. One night at dinner, they say:

"She's old," said Janie's mother lightly. "Practically a woman. A sophomore in high school."

"I hate when that happens," her father grumbled. "I like my little girl to stay little. I'm against all this growing up." He wound some of Janie's hair around his wrist.

The description is of a loving family. Janie also has a routine. This is not described in a way that makes it sound mundane. In fact, it sounds comfortable, because she has so many people around her who care about her. One day, while having lunch with her friends, Janie takes notice of “the face on the milk carton” that sets Janie’s whole world spinning.

“The girl on the carton was an ordinary little girl. Hair in tight pigtails, one against each thin cheek. A dress with a narrow white collar. The dress was white with tiny dark polka dots.”

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