The Face on the Milk Carton

by Caroline B. Cooney, Caroline Bruce

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Chapter 13 Summary

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Janie feels oddly thrilled when her parents scream at her. She tells herself that their anger proves they are real parents who really love her. She apologizes. Reeve explains that the two of them were just talking, not running away as their parents suspected. Reeve’s father threatens extreme punishment, and Janie suddenly realizes that she and Reeve are at risk of being kept apart. “But Reeve helped me,” she says. “I needed him and he was there.” This diffuses the situation a little. Both sets of parents are forced to admit that she has a point, but they maintain that it was horrible of Janie and Reeve to run off without calling home.

During another sleepless night, Janie considers what she has learned. By now she feels sure that her parents kidnapped her in a fit of insanity and blocked out the memory. However, she cannot bring herself to ruin their lives and hers. She decides to forget the family of redheads in New Jersey. She will just be the person she has always been.

In the morning, Janie’s mother drives her to school. She begs Janie to come home right after class and to call if any problems come up. Janie promises. She spends the school day in a fog of fatigue. At lunch her friends ask her if she is hiding something. One of them, Katrina, guesses that Janie is in love, and Janie cannot help glancing at Reeve. Her friends urge her to blow him a kiss, which she does. He blows her a kiss back, publicly acknowledging her romantically for the first time.

In history, Janie’s class gets a research assignment and goes to the library. While there, Janie realizes that she can look up Jennie Spring’s kidnapping in old newspapers, but she does not want to do this in the school library where people are likely to notice what she is doing. After school, she takes a bus to the public library. She finds several twelve-year-old issues of The New York Times on microfiche. She reads a few stories about Jennie Spring but stops short of looking at a picture of the Spring family. She has already decided not to reveal herself to the Springs, and she worries that she will feel guiltier if she sees their faces.

Just then, Reeve comes in, looking for her. When she asks how his family is doing, he confides that his parents have already found the hotel receipt. They refuse to believe that Reeve and Janie refrained from having sex. However, they have promised not to tell the Johnsons. They think Janie’s parents are under enough stress as it is.

At the mention of her parents, Janie remembers that she promised to go straight home from school. She hurriedly borrows a dime and rushes to a pay phone. When Mrs. Johnson answers, Janie rattles off an explanation about a research project. Her mom pretends that she has not been worried, but Janie can tell that she is a wreck. Eager to be a good daughter again, Janie suggests meeting up to watch her dad’s soccer game.

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