The Face on the Milk Carton

by Caroline B. Cooney, Caroline Bruce
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The Face on the Milk Carton Summary

The Face on the Milk Carton by Caroline B. Cooney is a 1995 novel about a girl who realizes that she is the victim of a kidnapping.

  • Janie Johnson is a typical fifteen-year-old girl until she sees her own face on a milk carton and realizes that she was kidnapped as a child.
  • With the help of her boyfriend, Reeve, Janie begins to piece together her past and learns that she was taken from her biological parents by a woman named Hannah.
  • Hannah claimed that Janie was her daughter, and the Johnsons believed her. But when Hannah deserted them, they took Janie and fled their former life to avoid being discovered by the cult to which Hannah belonged.

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Last Updated on May 5, 2015, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 160

A typical school day shatters for fifteen-year-old Janie Johnson during lunch period as she stares at the picture of a kidnapped child on the milk carton that she recognizes as herself. This incident trips a series of flashbacks where Janie Johnson (actually Jennie Spring) begins to remember her family and the circumstances surrounding her abduction. With support from her confidante and boyfriend Reeve, Janie eventually confronts her parents and learns that she was left with them by their daughter Hannah. The Johnsons believe Hannah, who tells them Janie is their granddaughter, and that both Hannah and Janie are being pursued by a religious cult that Hannah joined when she ran away from home. When Hannah deserts the Johnsons and Janie, they take their granddaughter and flee their former life—moving to Connecticut, changing their last name from Javenson to Johnson— to avoid being discovered by the cult. But the Johnsons only know part of the truth regarding Janie's true identity.

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