In 1990,The Face on the Milk Cartonwas publiburned by Bantam Doubleday Dell Books for Young Readers, introducing 15-year-old Janie Johnboy to the civilization. This month, the last installment in the five-book series, Janie Face to Face, was released.

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In 1990, The Face on the Milk Carton was publiburned by Bantam Doubleday Dell Books for Young Readers (that"s an early version of the book cover at right; the spookier update is above). The novel attributes remarkable redheaded character Janie Johnboy, an otherwise happy, normal 15-year-old that throughout lunch in the school cafeteria at some point sees what she believes is her own childhood challenge on a milk carton. Hence begins her utterly compelling mental, emotional, and also periodically geographical journey — via the aid of trusty next-door neighbor and also love interemainder Reeve Shields — to figure out who she really is, and what occurred.

In the even more than 20 years that adhered to that first book, there have actually been sequels — Whatever before Happened to Janie? ("93), The Voice on the Radio ("96), and What Janie Found (2000). The series has actually sold even more than 4.2 million duplicates altogether. The the majority of recent novel is Janie Face to Face, in which author Caroline B. Cooney concludes the series and also reveals what happens to Janie and also Reeve as grownups, and also whether Janie"s kidnapper, Hannah, ever gets her due. Writing the followups, though, was never before component of the initial arrangement, Cooney told me. The first book "was supposed to be a standalone," she sassist. "I was never before going to create a 2nd, never before going to write a third, and also the fourth, I knew it was the final book — they even put that on the cover! But my editor called me up and shelp, "I still think about Janie, and I think about that she and also Reeve and also their households would certainly be as adults. Why do not you do that?""

Cooney, who"s authored some 90 books for young readers, generally suspense, does not commonly write around adults, yet she took up the difficulty. "These youngsters were incredibly close to me, and also I had the benefit of understanding what my readers wanted," she sassist. "From the start, they’ve composed, "Do Reeve and Janie obtain married?" And they’re so annoyed, they desire the kidnapper to get hers. The story is really about exactly how you cope and also carry out the right point, however I kbrand-new if I wrote the adult story, I’d have to address those various other 2 things." Original fans of the Janie series will certainly likely not want to miss out on the possibility to hang out through those familiar personalities aobtain, peek into their continuing romance, and also see what happens to Hannah. (Hint: A key plot allude in the latest novel hinges not on milk carloads, however on Facebook.)

That an intended-to-be-one-off book publimelted in 1990 could have actually such a lengthy life, proceeding to resonate with those original readers and also new ones so many type of years later, is credence to the deep question it addresses. Cooney, who"s currently at work on a historical novel about the youngsters that sail on the Mayfreduced, told me she never anticipated how renowned the book would certainly be, yet she was mindful from the beginning that her plot concept was something special. "The best question in a book is "Who am I?"" she explains.

Certainly, that question had the majority of us under its spell from the start. Who was Janie? If Janie was that 3-year-old via the pigtails on the front of a carton of milk, kidnapped from a shopping mall in New Jersey and also named Jennie Spring, why does she live in Connectireduced through the name Janie and paleas who aren"t her own? Did her beloved mom and also dad kidnap her? And what deserve to and also need to she perform about the New Jersey parental fees who are, it appears, still trying to find her?

And from that: Who were we? Even among those that adored their perfect family members (cough), who didn"t think, occasionally, what it can have supposed to have been born right into one more one? Who, in the aftermath of a vicious teenage fight via one"s mother, perhaps even a grounding, didn"t wish she might revolve her paleas in for one more set? On the various other hand, and on a more existential level, many of us live via a consistent, dull background are afraid that somepoint we"ve constantly assumed to be true around ourselves might revolve out to be false. The inability to truly understand oneself — the truth about one"s health and wellness, one"s paleas, one"s relationships, also one"s innera lot of thoughts or subconscious — is not somepoint scheduled as a problem for teenagers. Everyone wonders, what if? What if something was revealed that unalterably readjusted the lives we"ve lived up to this time? That"s what happens to Janie.

So it"s some significant stuff that Cooney is confronting as soon as redheaded Janie Johnchild gazes at her younger self on a carton of milk (that she"s not also meant to be drinking, having actually just found out she"s lactose intolerant and also been forbidden not just milk yet likewise ice cream). Those of us of a specific age devoured this book, reading it not just once, however many type of times. ESPN magazine editor Megan Greenwell tweeted to me, "I fixated on it to an unhealthy degree," while Riverhead"s Lydia Hirt tweeted, "I more than likely review it 5x. Still remember Janie"s redhead fam." One reader attributed it through generating her fear of kidnapping by cult; one more shelp, "It made me irrationally involved that I had actually been kidnapped because my parents were so nice." This book got right into us; it made us think, and also save thinking around it, even after we finished reading.

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For many kind of of us, too, it was the kickoff to a lifelengthy love of analysis, specifically in the genres of suspense and also horror. Caitlin Moore, film editor at, told me, "This book was all the rage at my Montessori college in the early on "90s. My friends and also I passed it roughly and debated it endlessly (eextremely girl loves an excellent fostering fantasy), and also as I recontact it sparked a Y.A. mystery trend that led us to darker material like Christopher Pike, V.C. Andrews, and ultimately Stephen King (you know, stuff that worried our parents). I think the idea of finding out your totality life has been based upon a lie is very intriguing to young girls."

Greenwell, that remained in fourth grade when she review the first book, agreed that the deeper question at the heart of the book was what made it sheight to so many kind of of us. "I think The Face on the Milk Carton tapped into some primal "what if" sense in me, though I wouldn"t have actually explained it as such at the time. It definitely made me wonder if I was covertly not my parents" child based on no evidence whatsoever before." Plus, who didn"t type of covet Janie"s life drama in the humdrum everyday of college and play and home? "While I construed on some level that this have to be type of a traumatic point for negative fictional Janie, I likewise envied the excitement of her life," she shelp.

In fast-forwarding us to present day on Janie and Reeve, Cooney works in brand-new innovation — Facebook, for instance, and cell phones (Janie adores hers). While the chronology might not work-related specifically if you offer it also a lot believed — it"s two decades after the initially book for us, however only a number of years later on for the personalities in the series — the inclusion of the social media website renders for an admirable jump ahead to update the series. In many type of ways, Facebook does fit the bill as the new "milk carton" of our time. Cooney, mindful of the challenges of coping with technical development in a series of novels released over a 20-year period, said, "You can’t go ago and also technologically update the initially books, they stand. But the last book, it had to have actually this. I assumed, my readers are smart. They’ll number it out."

Of course, the inception for the original concept was less technology, even more bricks and also mortar: "I was at La Guardia airport, long before the alters of 9/11," Cooney told me, and "the concourse was plastered through homemade lacking son posters. One picture showed a really tiny kid, 2 or three years old, and she’d been absent for 15 years. I simply wept for those parents thinking their daughter can still be found — no one can identify her — and then I thought, what if the girl well-known herself? What a spooky idea!"

It was. Greenwell says, "At the climactic moments—her finding the stuff in the attic, the initially time she and also her boyfriend watch her biological household through their red hair, the phone conversation at the end—I FELT her stress and anxiety, or was convinced I did." In some methods, Janie was simply like us ... and also yet, the situation she discovered herself in was nothing we could have actually imagined, until we read it. "Having one foot still in fantasy land also unified via pre-teen angst provides imagining an alternate reality (various friends, house, apparel, parents) super compelling," says Moore. And it was empowering, too: "At a period when we couldn"t make very many kind of decisions on our very own, reading around girls who need to make such expensive dramatic options was scintillating and good."

Cooney considers the personalities in the series some of her favorites in her lengthy composing career. "I truly loved them even more," she told me. Tbelow is something she"d change, though, if she"d known how many type of publications in the series would eventually exist. "I would certainly absolutely have actually called her Janie," she states, "but I wouldn"t have it rhyme via Jodie, and I wouldn’t have actually twins named Brendan and also Brian. Who can save them straight?"