The Face on the Milk Carton

by Caroline B. Cooney, Caroline Bruce

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What did Janie like about her life in The Face on the Milk Carton?

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There is a lot that fifteen-year-old Janie in The Face on the Milk Carton likes about herself and her life.

After a lot of experimentation with the spelling of her name, she likes the variation she settles on—Jayyne Jonstone—feeling “it looked like the name you would have if you designed sequined gowns for a living, or pointed to prizes on television quiz shows.” Names in particular mean a lot to Janie, as she loves the names of her friends and decides that when she grows up and marries (something she daydreams about frequently), she will name her own daughters Denim and Lace.

Among the other things Janie likes are peanut butter and anything that goes with peanut butter, including marshmallow fluff and bananas. She loves milk, but having recently been diagnosed as lactose intolerant, she can’t have any—and the desire for milk ignites the story’s central conflict when she discovers her picture on the back of a school cafeteria milk carton.

Janie loves her “perfectly normal” family, enjoying a warm and loving relationship with both her parents. Janie and her mother frequently participate in “An Activity to Share,” the latest being a cake-decorating class. Janie’s father is prone to scooping his wife and daughter into bear hugs when returning home at the end of the day, something Janie eagerly looks forward to.

She loves the power of driving and the freedom it gives her. She loves her neighbor, Reeve, and eventually, the two begin a romantic relationship.

Unlike her mother, who loves deep, rich colors, Janie loves pastels, decorating her bedroom in “Janie's colors: ivory, pale pale rose, and faded lavender.” Pajamas are something else she loves, everything from flannel to silk shorties, cotton and lace to “bridal-trousseau-type” nightgowns. Janie also “adored mischief, if she could watch, rather than participate. She was perfectly willing to cheer the boys on as long as she ran no risk of getting punished along with them.”

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