The Face on the Milk Carton

by Caroline B. Cooney, Caroline Bruce

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Chapter 7 Summary

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When Janie gets home, both of her parents are out, her dad coaching and her mother volunteering. Janie is desperate to get a look at her birth certificate. Once she sees it, she will know that the whole kidnapping idea is wrong, and she can go on with her life. She does not know when the bank closes, but she thinks it will be closed before her parents get home. She goes into her mother’s office with the vague idea of finding the key and going to the bank by herself.

Janie opens her mother’s top desk drawer and sees dozens of folders full of neatly organized information from all of Mrs. Johnson’s many volunteering activities. Janie rifles idly through the papers, reflecting that she has had no more daymares about Jennie Spring’s childhood. If Janie can get to the birth certificate, the daymares may go away forever. Then she will be able to focus on pursuing Reeve and learning to drive.

The lower desk drawer is locked; Janie feels disturbed by that. She knows the drawer must be full of old tax forms and bank statements, and her mother does not seem the type to lock up such papers. What robber would break into the house and take them? Janie looks for a key and fails to find one.

Next, she drifts upstairs. It occurs to her to go to the attic. There are many boxes up there that her mother says are full of old junk she wants to throw away, but Janie now wonders if this is true. Mrs. Johnson is always chosen as the committee head of her volunteer groups precisely because she is a hyper-organized person who does not do things like leave junk sitting around.

Janie goes up to the attic, feeling strangely guilty at doing so without her parents. She sees boxes labeled J for Janie and F for her father, Frank. They contain old sweaters and other odds and ends. This discovery is comforting to Janie—until she finds a trunk marked H. Nobody in Janie’s family has a name beginning with H.

The trunk is locked, but one good tug breaks it open. Janie sifts through it and finds many old school papers by someone named Hannah. Neither of Janie’s parents has ever mentioned anyone with that name. Janie finds a school picture and sees a pretty girl with blond hair. Her face sparks no memories.

Just as she is about to close the trunk and give up, Janie notices a bit of polka-dot fabric. Janie goes cold, but she grabs it and pulls. The next thing she knows, she is holding the dress Jennie Spring was wearing in the picture on the milk carton.

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