The Face on the Milk Carton

by Caroline B. Cooney, Caroline Bruce

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Chapter 14 Summary

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Janie’s dad is thrilled when she appears at his soccer game. He thanks her for coming and introduces her to all of his players. Afterward, Janie’s mother suggests going out for pizza, which surprises everyone because she usually refuses to feed her family anything but healthful, home-cooked meals. Janie goes to the pizza parlor but finds she cannot eat. Now that she knows the truth about her kidnapping, she is living a lie, pretending that she is still ignorant about her real identity. The thought makes her sick to her stomach.

During dinner, Janie’s mom suggests going to the Adolescent Trauma Center for family counseling. Janie refuses, saying that she wants to work her feelings out on her own. Inwardly, she thinks that it would be horrible to lie to a psychologist; it is bad enough to lie to everyone else. Janie’s dad also rejects the counseling idea. He does not want anyone examining their private lives. Mrs. Johnson seems upset at her family’s reaction to her suggestion.

At this moment, Janie is struck by one of her daymares. She hears herself and a family reciting a rhyming prayer before a meal. The Johnsons have never been religious, so this is definitely a memory from the Spring household. Janie tries to push the words of the prayer out of her head. Her parents, noticing her discomfort, ask what she is thinking about. She says she is fine, but she can hear the false note in her voice.

That night, Janie cannot concentrate on her homework. She grabs a disused diary and starts to write a letter to the Springs inside it. She explains how she found out about herself and how much she likes the life she has lived as Jane Johnson. Once she starts writing, she has trouble stopping. The next day during school, she takes out the diary during English class and writes more. When the bell rings for lunch, she fails to notice until her teacher interrupts her. Later, in her typing class, she prepares some envelopes with her return address on them.

After school, Reeve gives Janie a ride. On the way home, he stops at the Scenic Overlook to kiss. Caught up in her worries about her family, she says that she must have been a horrible child to allow herself to be kidnapped. She is pretty sure that three-year-olds know their own phone numbers and that she could have called home if she had wanted to. Instead, she simply forgot her family. Reeve tries to reassure her that she is not at fault. However, he seems annoyed when she refuses to drop the subject.

That evening, Janie remembers how she used to give herself interesting names like Jayyne Jonstone. The thought angers her. She does not want to be anybody but Jane Johnson anymore. However, she cannot stop looking at her milk carton, and now she has an envelope, too, with a neatly typed return address on the outside.

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