The Face on the Milk Carton

by Caroline B. Cooney, Caroline Bruce

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Chapter 6 Summary

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In the morning, Janie begs her parents to let her drive them to the tailgate party. After some discussion, they agree. Janie happily backs out of the driveway, doing a perfect job of it and feeling proud of herself—especially when Reeve comes outside and sees her. Her parents are terrified throughout the journey, and they force her to drive well under the speed limit all the way. Janie is too pleased with herself to care.

Reeve’s sister Lizzie is visiting for the football game, a situation which Janie finds annoying. Of Reeve’s three high-achieving siblings, Lizzie is perhaps the most driven. She excelled as an undergraduate at Princeton, and now she is in law school. She is highly disapproving of Reeve, and Janie resents this. Even Janie’s mother is a bit ill at ease around Lizzie. She whispers nervously to Janie that Lizzie might laugh at the football cake.

The three families eat and chat together. After the picnic, the parents send the kids off to walk through the campus on their own. As they walk, Reeve confesses that he may have to spend next year repeating some high school classes if he wants to get into college someday. When Sarah-Charlotte says this would be “humiliating,” Janie finds it annoying that her friend is not more empathetic. She wants to hold Reeve’s hand, but she is too nervous.

When the game starts, everyone sits together and cheers. Janie’s mother finally works up the courage to unveil her cake, and everyone cheerfully eats it up. When Reeve asks for his third piece, Janie gathers her courage and feeds it to him. The two of them spend the rest of the game focused on each other. Sarah-Charlotte, who spends the night with Janie after the game, reacts to Janie and Reeve's new relationship with a mixture of giddiness and enviousness.

The next Monday at school, Reeve barely acknowledges Janie. Janie does not know yet what she and Reeve are to each other, so she pretends not to care. Her recurring worries about the picture on the milk carton drown out her thoughts of him anyway. In Spanish, the teacher announces a class trip to Spain. When Janie hears that she needs to show her birth certificate in order to get a passport, she remembers her plan to look at her birth certificate. At lunch, she glances at the other kids’ milk cartons. There is a different picture this time. Nobody but Janie even seems to notice it.

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