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While still adjusting to the reality of having two families, her birth family and the family into which she was kidnapped as a small child, seventeen-year-old Janie makes a shocking discovery about her long-gone kidnapper.
From the Paperback edition.
NEW JERSEY (AP) -- Today is the anniversary of the "Missing Child Milk Carton" campaign. Launched by Flower Dairy, the campaign placed a photograph of a different missing child every month on the half-pints of milk sold in school cafeterias throughout New Jersey, New York and New England. The campaign was discontinued when some parents felt it was too upsetting for their children.
A spokesperson for Flower Dairy reminded the public, however, of one spectacular success.
Thirteen years earlier, while shopping with her family, three-year-old Jennie Spring had vanished. Mall witnesses saw the child with a young woman, but the woman was not identified. The little girl was never seen again.
The Springs continued to hope they would one day find their daughter. They agreed to put her face on a milk carton. Jennie Spring herself, by then fifteen years old, recognized her photograph.
America was riveted by the story that emerged. The kidnapped child had been raised in a wealthy Connecticut suburb as Janie Johnson. The kidnapping was apparently the act of Hannah Javensen, known to the public because of another drama, in which she joined a cult, and her parents, Frank and Miranda Javensen, stole her back. Javensen had returned to the cult, however, and her parents had never heard from her since.
Why Hannah Javensen kidnapped Jennie Spring is still unknown, but having done so, she evidently panicked and drove across three states to reach the home she had abandoned. She telephoned the parents who had not seen her in years, insisting that the little girl was hers and therefore their granddaughter. Asking her parents to bring the child up, Hannah Javensen disappeared again.
The Javensens moved, changing their name to Johnson and the little girl's name to Janie to protect their grandchild from the cult and from their daughter.
After Hannah Javensen's phone call, the teenage girl was reunited with the Spring family. In the investigation that followed, police and FBI failed to locate Hannah Javensen.
Both the Spring and Johnson families declined comment for this article.
A spokeswoman for Flower Dairy said they remain proud of their part in finding Jennie Spring.
Chapter One Last seen flying west.
Over and over, Janie read those last four words on the report.
I could do that, she thought. I could be "last seen flying west." I too could vanish.
By not being here, I could be a hundred times more powerful and more present. No one could ever set me down. I would control all their lives forever, just by being gone.
She actually considered it.
She didn't worry about the logistics -- plane ticket, money, shelter, food, clothing. Janie had never lacked for shampoo or supper or shoes and she couldn't imagine not having them.
She considered this: She could become a bad person.
In the time it took for a jet to cross America, she, Janie Johnson -- good daughter, good friend, good student, good sister -- with no effort, she could ruin a dozen lives.
She was stunned by the file folder in her fingers, but she was more stunned by how attracted she was to this idea -- Janie Johnson, Bad Guy.
In all that had happened -- the kidnapping, the new family, the old family, even Reeve's betrayal -- nothing had brought such fury to her heart as the contents of this folder.
She couldn't even say, I can't believe it. Because she could believe it easily. It fit in so well. And it made her so terribly angry.
She knew now why her older brother, Stephen, had dreamed for years of college. It was escape, the getaway from his massive store of anger.
She herself had just finished her junior year in high school. If college was the way out, she could not escape until a year from September -- unless she escaped the way Hannah had, all those years ago.
Janie Johnson hated her father at that moment with a hatred that was wallpaper on every wall of every room she had ever lived in: stripes and circles and colors of hate pasted over every other emotion.
But gently she slid the police report back into the file folder and put the folder in among the others, pressing with her palm to even up all the folders so that the one that mattered vanished.
It took control to be gentle. Her fingers wanted to crush the contents of the folder, wad everything up and heave it out a window, and then fling the folder to the floor and drag her shoes over it.
The drawer was marked Paid Bills. Her father was very organized, and now that he could do nothing himself, her mother wanted Janie to be organized in his place. For a few minutes, it had seemed like fun: Janie Johnson, accountant and secretary.
The drawer contained a long row of folders, each with a center label, each label neatly printed in her father's square typewriter-looking print, each in the same blue ink. Folders for water bills and oil bills, insurance policies and tax reports.
And one folder labeled with two initials.
It was invisible in the drawer, hidden in the forest of its plain vanilla sisters. But to Janie it flamed and beckoned.
You don't have to stay here, being good and dutiful and kind and thoughtful, said the folder. You can be Hannah.
Janie had a very expressive face. Her features were never still but swung from thought to thought. If he could read cheeks and forehead and chin tilt, he could read Janie.
But although he had lived next door to her ever since he could remember, and although they had once been boyfriend and girlfriend and had been through two hells together, right now he could not read her face.
He did, however, know that he wanted to read the contents of that file. The label was very tempting. The way she had returned it to the drawer, the silence she was keeping -- also very tempting.
Don't even think about it, he told himself. How many times are you going to jerk her around? She tells you how to behave, you say, Sure, Janie, and then do exactly what you want. You going to do it now, too? She's speaking to you again, letting you here in the house again, and once again, you can't wait to trespass on her. You promised yourself you'd grow up. So maybe tonight would be a good time. Maybe tonight you should not look in that folder, which obviously contains the most interesting papers Janie has ever seen in her life.
But not for you, sport. Give it up. Offer a distraction, mention dinner, get out of the house, get away from this office, do not interfere.
So Reeve said, "Let's all go get a hamburger. Brian? Janie? Mrs. Johnson? You up for McDonald's? Or you want to go to Beach Burger?"
Brian felt so included here. It was weird to be part of a large friendly family like his own family in New Jersey and yet never feel included. Up here, visiting Janie (his sister, but not part of his family), he felt strangely more welcome.
That wasn't quite fair.
What he felt was less useless.
He missed his older brother, Stephen, badly. But Stephen was not going to return in any real way. A night here, a week there, but Stephen was gone.
Brian's twin was no company at all, still a shock to Brian, who had thought they would be best friends all their lives. Brendan had not noticed Brian for a whole year. And with the close of school, and the end of baseball (Brendan, of course, was captain and his pitching won the local and regional championships and they even got to the semifinals) and now summer training camps for basketball and soccer -- well, the best Brian could do was stand around and help fold his brother's jeans when he packed. (Brendan even said that. "At least you know how to fold T-shirts," said Bren. "Although I don't screw around with that myself, I just shove 'em in.")
And the other good reason for going to Beach Burger was that Brian wanted food in his hands, so that he wouldn't leap forward and yank that file folder out of Janie's hands. Because he knew in his gut that she had found something important. And everything important to Janie was important to Brian's family. Her other family.
But Brian at this moment did not feel a lot of affection for his own family. No matter what he did there, he was last in line. He was sick of it. Up here in Connecticut with Janie, he wasn't first, but he was part of them, and he wasn't going to wreck that.
What he was going to do, he decided, after the rest of them went to visit Janie's father in the hospital tonight, was walk in here boldly and scope out that folder, as if it were his business.
Because he was pretty sure it was his business.
Mrs. Johnson was sitting at her own desk, which was at a right angle to her husband's desk, where Janie was studying the bills, paid and unpaid. Mrs. Johnson had been using a small calculator to balance the checking account, and it was making her cry, because this was not her job, had never been her job. In the division of labor that every family requires, checking accounts belonged to her husband.
And now he was in the hospital.
A stroke and a heart attack.
She could not believe either of these things.
Frank was slim and strong and he worked out and ate well, and he was still, in her opinion, a young man. Well, not young. But he wasn't old! He was not old enough to have a heart attack. He could not leave her now; he could not die. He could not end up speechless and drooling. She couldn't go through that. She wouldn't go through that.
She had to believe he would recover. Completely.
She mixed up numbers and skipped decimals and could not manage a simple subtraction.
And so she did not see her daughter blazing over the contents of a file folder in Paid Bills, and she did not see Janie's former boyfriend staring in fascination, nor Janie's real brother observing them all.
Mrs. Johnson said, "Yes. Beach Burger. I hope the rocks aren't crowded. I want to sit on the rocks. Don't you, Brian?" She was crazy about Brian. He was such a sweetheart. It was a ridiculous time to have a houseguest, but Brian was a treasure. In a weird way, Miranda Johnson was thrilled and honored to find that her family had extended from here in Connecticut down there into New Jersey, and that somehow, miraculously, she too had been adopted.
It will all work out, she said to herself, and she was actually almost happy. She turned and smiled at the three teenagers, but she did not see how quickly Janie's smile came and went, nor did she attach any importance to Janie's habit of lowering her face to let her heavy dark red hair cover her expression.
She was pleasant and even funny because she liked the three people with her. But she was aware of her terrible anger sitting next to her on the rock waiting to come back in, and she could hardly wait to get home, and be by herself, and go back to that folder and let the fury take over.
She thought she could probably produce enough rage to power the house. She could plug the toaster into her hand and burn the bread with her anger.
But no. Once again, she must be controlled and careful and a total fake in front of everybody. Janie Johnson: Good Guy. She was so sick of being good.
"Janie darling," said her mother. Her mother was affectionate with everybody: it was Janie darling and Reeve sweetheart and Brian love.
Did her mother know the truth? It seemed unlikely. Mom would never have let her open that drawer if she had known about the folder in there.
On the other hand, her parents had kept a massive secret for years, and Janie had never suspected a thing. So perhaps they were keeping two secrets, and had kept this second secret in front of everybody: the FBI; the police; her Spring family; Reeve; Reeve's lawyer sister, Lizzie; and most of all, Janie herself.
She could not trust either parent now.
"I don't think I'll visit Dad tonight," Janie told her mother, knowing she should tag on some friendly reason, some kindly excuse, like exhaustion. But she was so angry. What if she said, Because I'd rip out the tubes keeping him alive if I had to see him right now?
"I'll drop you guys at home," she said to the boys, "and then drive Mom to the hospital." She checked her watch. Six P.M. Plenty of time to get rid of all three of them, examine that folder, finish screaming and go back to the hospital. "I'll pick you up at nine, Mom." Janie did all the driving now.
For years, she had dreaded the moment in which she must stop being the passenger and turn into the driver. Had cringed at the thought of facing traffic; flinched at choosing left lane or right.
Janie Johnson had preferred leaning on her parents. But her mother and father had been weakened from finding out that Janie was theirs by theft. They'd so carefully kept a secret all these years -- the secret of Janie's birth -- but they'd been wrong about what the secret was. They'd never known the real secret.
The media attention and the law, the neighbors and the necessity to face Janie's birth family had quite literally put them both on heart medicine.
Janie had had to become strong for her mother and father, and she'd done it. She was proud of herself. But there had not been quite enough energy to be strong for herself, so she had leaned on Reeve. Probably the most painful mistake she would ever make. Once the possibility of leaning on Reeve was gone, the solution to her problems seemed to be in the driver's seat.
Overnight, Janie wanted a driver's license and a car.
Nothing low to the pavement. No dumb little four-cylinder engine. She wanted height and power. She wanted a cool name. Wrangler or Blazer. (Her best friend, Sarah-Charlotte, suggested a Tracker. "The better to find your kidnapper," said Sarah-Charlotte, as if this were all rather comic. As if anybody at all ever wanted to find the kidnapper.)
The only good thing about the kidnapper was that she had vanished. Nobody in either family had a clue to the kidnapper's whereabouts or even if she was still alive. Finding the kidnapper would destroy all that the Springs and the Johnsons had managed to save.
In the end, Janie chose an Explorer, which her father gladly bought. He was so pleased that Janie wanted to drive, and have power and freedom. It was a big step up for a girl who had spent the winter barely able to turn a page in a magazine.
Now she thought grimly, I don't need a Tracker, do I? And Dad knew that when he bought my Explorer. The kidnapper has already been tracked.
She remembered to be calm. She smiled at her mother, her former boyfriend and her little brother. Then she realized that even when she dropped Mom at the hospital, she would not be alone when she got home.
Brian would be there.
Janie could see no way to unload Brian. No way to shut him up in a guest room while she stormed around screaming.
Reeve knew it well.
Her real smiles -- her laughing, exuberant, I-love-you smiles -- he hadn't gotten those since last fall, when he'd been such a massive jerk that he was amazed anybody spoke to him now.
He also knew what she was doing.
If they all went to drop Mrs. Johnson at the hospital, they'd drive home together. Reeve would drift on into the Johnsons' house with Janie and Brian. But Janie didn't want Reeve around, so she'd drop him off first and then go on to the hospital.
It was that folder. She was going back into it when she had no witnesses.
Of course, she'd still have Brian. There was no place to drop Brian.
I could give Janie a present, thought Reeve. I could invite Brian to go to a movie with me. I could say, "Brian, let's give Janie a rest, let's let her have a night on her own." But I'm selfish. I don't want to go to a movie with a fourteen-year-old. I want to go to a movie with Janie and sit in the back and make out. Or at least hold hands.
Not that Janie had allowed any of that since he'd been back from college.
Reeve Shields, he said to himself. Good Guy. "Janie," he said, "you want a rest from us, too? Brian and I could go see a movie."
She knew that he knew something was up.
Reeve studied her all the time, trying to find a way back, trying to find the sentence or the gesture that would make them boyfriend and girlfriend again. "I'd like that," she said. She did not look at Reeve but got up carefully, as if she were worried about falling into the sea. An unexpected swim in salt water would be a pleasure compared to examining that folder at length, and the reason for her care was very different: to show her mother nothing.
I will never show either of my parents anything again, she thought. They had no right to do this. None.
Her mother said, "Janie darling, I know how hard this is on you. Seeing Daddy so collapsed and incapable. It's terrible for all of us. It's so hard to imagine the future. I've asked too much of you, making you go with me and sit by his bedside every night. All three of you must go see a movie. See a fun one. Lots of laughs. You need to laugh, Janie darling."
Reeve shifted up to the front seat and Brian stayed in back.
Janie was wearing her hair loose. She had serious hair; more, said Sarah-Charlotte, than any three normal people.
Reeve laid claim to a single red curly strand, winding it around his finger. Her hair was long and his finger turned into a shining dark red cylinder.
Janie took the curl back without looking at him. Her hair sproinged out past her shoulders and it seemed to Reeve she could not possibly see the traffic; her view had to be blocked by a forest of autumn-red leaves: her own hair.
Janie did not get on the interstate, which was the only road that went to the twelve-screen theater. She drove home. Her house and Reeve's were next door, which was convenient or maddening, however you felt at the moment.
Reeve did not have a car of his own this summer, but his family owned plenty of cars and one was always available; it was just a matter of begging and pleading and then promising to fill the gas tank.
Okay, fine, Reeve said to himself. Janie ignores me; I take her kid brother out instead.
He sighed but, not wanting to hurt Brian's feelings, cut the sigh off. As cheerfully as he could, he said, "So, Bri, what do you want to see?"
And Brian Spring said, "I want to see what was in that folder, Janie."
© 2000 by Caroline B. Cooney. All rights reserved. Used by permission of Delacorte Press.
Posted October 10, 2011
The book "What Janie Found By Caroline B. Cooney" isn't the best book. You would probably want to read the whole series to really get into it because it is a mystery. But I didn't read any of the others. So I couldn't really follow with it because sometimes I would just get lost I wouldn't know what is happening with the story. Janie's two families have been peaceful lately. She is even talking to her old boyfriend, Reeve now. But then her dad in Connecticut has a stroke. So she starts taking care of him and taking care of his business. And she supports her mother personally because she is sad. When she is at her dad's business, then she discovers a folder. A secret that her father is holding from the rest of her family. So it is up to her to make a huge decision. She can either tell her family about the secret or keep it hidden to herself. Not many teens have to deal with big decisions like this. You will find out if you read it. But personally, if I was you, I wouldn't. It is kind of boring to me. Maybe you will like it, but it is not my kind of book.
2 out of 4 people found this review helpful.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted February 19, 2011
I am in the beginning of reading this book ,and it is pretty interesting. I have already read the other three in the series. alison g
2 out of 4 people found this review helpful.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted August 3, 2012
Posted June 17, 2012
It was intriguing in the beginning but then at this last book she never sends the letter to Hannah and stays with the Johnsons I believe. She does not even say the end!
1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted February 11, 2012
Posted March 11, 2011
i already read the firrst three and im so anxious to read this one,!!!!!!!!! im on the second chapter and i cant wait
1 out of 2 people found this review helpful.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted August 6, 2013
0 out of 3 people found this review helpful.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted June 7, 2013
Posted January 14, 2013
Posted May 6, 2012
Posted October 21, 2011
Posted August 29, 2011
Wh????????????????????????????????????????dfghjklzx???????cccvb???????nnnnmqw???????????????????rt???????????y????????????????uuu?????????????????????????????????????????????????????????opi??????????????????????????????????????????? kk this book was weird it was too little kiddish i dodnt like it the age should be reading this is like from 3-5 and and 99-100 it was really that strange i read the first one ( big mistake) and then the next ones and now a year later they are stupid. If you like these kunds of books then go for it, but i didnt like it amd im 21
0 out of 6 people found this review helpful.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted October 8, 2007
In all four books Janie always wonders what would happen if she were to run into Hannah and when she finally gets her chance she chickens out! She traveld practically around the country just to write a letter she never sent. When I finshed the book all I could think of was what a waist of time! even though it was nice that she finally made ammends with her older brother but that wasnt even her main intention for going up there. I just wish there could have been atleast one interaction with Hannah that would have made it betterWas this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted March 25, 2007
Posted September 26, 2006
What would you do if you were kidnapped and reunited with your family? Would you try to find the person who kidnapped you? Well, that¿s what Janie did. The name of this exciting novel is What Janie Found and it was written by Caroline B. Cooney. This story takes place in New Jersey and in Connecticut. The genre of What Janie Found is fiction but it seems more like a mystery. If I was Janie I would have never try and find the person who kidnapped me because I would be afraid that person might try and kidnap me again. The ending of the story was surprising and shocking. If you love shocking stories then you¿ll defiantly enjoy reading this book!Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted June 22, 2005
this book was HORRIBLE. i am sorry to all cooney fans, but this book was awful. i liked the other books, but this one--no. she basically dragged out stuff that reeve and brian should have gotten from the start to something that janie had to bring out all dramatic. and the characters were all different. im sorry, but this book was bad. cooney is a great writer, so i KNOW she could have written better.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted June 13, 2005
Posted December 14, 2004
I have read all four of your 'Janie' series. They are magnificent. I love to read mystery novels. The way you described all of your characters made me picture what they look like exactly. I can just imagine Janie's fiery, red hair. I hope you continue to write more 'Janie' novels. I would love to know what actually happened to Hannah and with Janie and Reeve and her New Jersey and her Connecticut families. Also I would like to know what happened to her Connecticut father.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted June 20, 2004
Posted July 8, 2004