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WHATEVER HAPPENED TO JANIE?

From the Janie series , Vol. 2

In The Face on the Milk Carton (1990), Janie discovered that she was kidnapped as a three-year-old and adopted by the Johnsons, who believed her to be the child of their unstable daughter Hannah. Now, at 15, she moves in with her birth parents. Janie comes to like the Springs, but misses the Johnsons with a ferocity no one has predicted. There's ambivalence among all involved; her raucous birth family wants to be ``whole'' again, but finds Janie a somewhat petulant stranger who, as the only child of well-off parents, is accustomed to privacy and privileges. No one can figure out how to redress the wrongs—the Springs' lost years, the Johnsons' separation from the child they've loved so long. Readers will like Janie, who has all the less-than-noble afflictions of a real teenager. In fact, aside from a tacked-on attempt by Janie's birth siblings to find Hannah, the book is filled with characters making poignantly realistic decisions; perhaps the hallmark here is that nobody can win. Cooney avoids feel-good answers and wrestles with the issues; readers will be fascinated by the debate and saddened by the realization that—in this case—a happy ending is all but an impossibility. (Fiction. 11+)

Pub Date: June 1, 1993

ISBN: 0-385-31035-8

Page Count: 176

Publisher: Delacorte

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 1993

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IF HE HAD BEEN WITH ME

There’s not much plot here, but readers will relish the opportunity to climb inside Autumn’s head.

The finely drawn characters capture readers’ attention in this debut.

Autumn and Phineas, nicknamed Finny, were born a week apart; their mothers are still best friends. Growing up, Autumn and Finny were like peas in a pod despite their differences: Autumn is “quirky and odd,” while Finny is “sweet and shy and everyone like[s] him.” But in eighth grade, Autumn and Finny stop being friends due to an unexpected kiss. They drift apart and find new friends, but their friendship keeps asserting itself at parties, shared holiday gatherings and random encounters. In the summer after graduation, Autumn and Finny reconnect and are finally ready to be more than friends. But on August 8, everything changes, and Autumn has to rely on all her strength to move on. Autumn’s coming-of-age is sensitively chronicled, with a wide range of experiences and events shaping her character. Even secondary characters are well-rounded, with their own histories and motivations.

There’s not much plot here, but readers will relish the opportunity to climb inside Autumn’s head.   (Fiction. 14 & up)

Pub Date: April 1, 2013

ISBN: 978-1-4022-7782-5

Page Count: 336

Publisher: Sourcebooks Fire

Review Posted Online: Feb. 12, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2013

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IF ONLY I HAD TOLD HER

A heavy read about the harsh realities of tragedy and their effects on those left behind.

In this companion novel to 2013’s If He Had Been With Me, three characters tell their sides of the story.

Finn’s narrative starts three days before his death. He explores the progress of his unrequited love for best friend Autumn up until the day he finally expresses his feelings. Finn’s story ends with his tragic death, which leaves his close friends devastated, unmoored, and uncertain how to go on. Jack’s section follows, offering a heartbreaking look at what it’s like to live with grief. Jack works to overcome the anger he feels toward Sylvie, the girlfriend Finn was breaking up with when he died, and Autumn, the girl he was preparing to build his life around (but whom Jack believed wasn’t good enough for Finn). But when Jack sees how Autumn’s grief matches his own, it changes their understanding of one another. Autumn’s chapters trace her life without Finn as readers follow her struggles with mental health and balancing love and loss. Those who have read the earlier book will better connect with and feel for these characters, particularly since they’ll have a more well-rounded impression of Finn. The pain and anger is well written, and the novel highlights the most troublesome aspects of young adulthood: overconfidence sprinkled with heavy insecurities, fear-fueled decisions, bad communication, and brash judgments. Characters are cued white.

A heavy read about the harsh realities of tragedy and their effects on those left behind. (author’s note, content warning) (Fiction. 14-18)

Pub Date: Feb. 6, 2024

ISBN: 9781728276229

Page Count: 416

Publisher: Sourcebooks Fire

Review Posted Online: Jan. 5, 2024

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2024

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