The Face on the Milk Carton by Caroline B. Cooney

the face on the milk carton

The face on the milk carton looks like an ordinary little girl: hair in tight pigtails, a dress with a narrow white collar, a three-year-old who was kidnapped more than twelve years ago from a shopping mall in New Jersey.

As fifteen-year-old Janie Johnson stares at the milk carton, she feels overcome with shock. She knows that little girl is she. But how could it be true?

Janie can’t believe that her loving parents kidnapped her, until she begins to piece together clues that don’t make sense. Why are there no pictures of Janie before she was four? Her parents have always said they didn’t have a camera. Now that explanation sounds feeble. Something is terribly wrong, and Janie is afraid to find out what happened more than twelve years ago.

In this gripping page-turner, the reader will unravel — as Janie does — the twisted events that changed the lives of two families forever. (Goodreads)

I added this book on my TBR quite a while back after reading a fairly promising review on it. I then proceeded to check it out on Goodreads and thought it looked promising enough to read. I really wanted to love this book – the synopsis was so intriguing and the content would definitely make for a good story… but I just didn’t like it! I felt disconnected from the characters, the way in which it was written annoyed the hell out of me and it just led to me struggling through this book with the phrase “just a few more chapters left”. My new mantra.

Let’s start with Janie. Or Jennie. Or, in her weird world, Jayyne Jonstone. She is possibly the most annoying character that I have ever met/read in my entire life. I pretty much hated her. It got to the point where I just wanted to slap her – repeatedly. I never understood why people get so annoyed with teenager crises, so to speak – well, now I know. I dread the day my child becomes a teenager. I don’t presume to know what it is like to be kidnapped and then finding out that she was kidnapped and not having any clue what to do about it. Her indecision over what to do, her constant moaning and groaning and ignoring her friends and staying in her own world annoyed me. She comes across as a really selfish and self centred character. Like I said… I wanted to slap her – more than once. I think having a main character that you hate so much just ruins the entire book.

The way in which the book was written annoyed me as well. Sometimes it was written in third person as if we were watching the events unfold before us and other times it was written as if we were in the mind of Janie Johnson herself – aka first person. The constant chopping and changing bugged me. Why can’t the author just pick one way of writing and stick to it? It would make for a better reading experience.

The events that unfolded before us didn’t seem to flow properly. One minute they were discussing Janie’s real parents in New Jersey and the next minute she was making out with someone in a pile of leaves. One minute they are talking about teenage crushes, getting people/friends to get their friends to ask them out etc. and the next, Janie was back into her own world. It chopped and changed and I found it difficult to follow.

I think the only good thing about this book was the authors note presented to us at the beginning. I liked knowing where she got her inspiration from to write about such a topic that is rarely written about and knowing that it came from something that could actually be real, while still being a fictional story. The author was right in saying that no one would recognise the photographs 15 years later other than perhaps the children themselves – if they have photo’s of themselves from when they were younger.

I really wanted to love this book and I hated the fact that I disliked it as much as I did. I am still unsure as to whether I will actually continue on with this series because the book annoyed me that much. I gave this book 2/5 stars.

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