The Face on the Milk Carton

by Caroline B. Cooney, Caroline Bruce

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Describe the character Janie from The Face on the Milk Carton.

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Initially, Janie is a happy, carefree young lady. She leads a good home life, with loving parents there to guide and protect her. In common with many people of her age, Janie has a very vivid imagination and a strong sense of curiosity about the world around her. And it's this particular characteristic of hers which leads her to discover the disturbing truth about her background. Those parents with whom she's lived such a happy, fulfilling life—Mr. and Mrs. Johnson—are not really her parents after all. Janie finds out that she was kidnapped at the age of three by the Johnsons's daughter Hannah, who lured Janie away with the promise of ice cream.

As we might expect, this shocking revelation changes everything. All of a sudden, life's become so incredibly complicated for Janie, and with it her personality. No longer the happy-go-lucky teen, Janie finds herself mired in guilt, blaming herself for allowing Hannah to tempt her with ice cream on that fateful day.

Yet what's interesting about Janie is that, even after she discovers the truth about her past, she still retains many of the personal qualities of old. For one thing, she's as kind and as loving as ever. She still loves the Johnsons as much as she ever did, and doesn't want to return to her birth family despite everything that's happened.

But the revelation of her true parentage causes Janie to undergo quite a profound change in character. She no longer takes life in her stride. Her obsession with the kidnapping takes over her whole life, damaging her personal relationships. Janie no longer takes pride in her appearance and stops eating properly due to all the stress and trauma that this whole business has caused.

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