“Janie Face to Face” Caroline B. Cooney

Janie Johnson #5. 2013. Delacorte Press. 345 pp.

JanieFacetoFaceSeveral years ago, I read “The Face on the Milk Carton,” and was hooked. It became my favorite book to booktalk, (it still is), and my middle school students clamored to read it. I was ecstatic when I was at ALA in Seattle to find out there was a new book in the series, and even more ecstatic when I found out my local library had a copy. How wonderful that my first book to read with a 2013 copyright date should be this one!

The saga of Janie Johnson’s kidnapping plays out on a grand scale in this, the final book in the series. Now in college, Janie has put to rest her nightmares of having strangers discover her past. She has given herself a new name (Jane) and has spent 2 years in her new shoes, enjoying college life. She is still hurt over Reeve’s betrayal and, when she meets smooth talker Michael, believes he’s the one for her. Despite her feelings for Michael, a teeny part of her mind keeps thinking about Reeve.

Meanwhile, a crime writer has been sending emails and letters to all of her friends trying to get them to agree to an interview for a book he’s writing about Janie. Cooney smoothly integrates their reactions to the possibility of having a book written about her, with each having their own reasons for either wanting or not wanting such a book to become a possibility. The unifying thread to their thoughts is that somehow it might flush out Hannah, Janie’s kidnapper. This could be good, or bad, depending on who’s doing the thinking.

Cooney also finally fleshes out the character of Hannah, taking us back in time to see Janie’s kidnapping from her point of view. With each chapter, she fills in the missing years of Hannah’s life. We see her as a seriously disturbed individual, and find ourselves worrying for Janie as Hannah’s past becomes Janie’s present. In addition, readers get indepth chapters on each of Janie’s brothers and sisters, also getting to see the kidnapping and the subsequent years through their eyes.

Mystery, thrills, fears, emotional ups and downs, as well as unexpected twists and turns abound in “Janie Face to Face.”  Everything leads up to a wonderful, satisfying conclusion to this fantastic series. Both old fans of the series and new ones, aged 13 and older, will want to read this latest gem by Cooney who has scored a hit once again.

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