Whatever Happened to Janie?

Book review by
Monica Wyatt, Common Sense Media
Whatever Happened to Janie? Book Poster Image
Parents recommendPopular with kids
Fans of the first book will devour this one.

Parents say

age 12+
Based on 6 reviews

Kids say

age 12+
Based on 10 reviews

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this book.

Positive Messages

Two characters sneak off to New York behind their parents' backs.


Constant, as the main character tries to be the daughter of strangers.

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that emotions rage as Janie tries to adjust to living with new parents. The writing and story sweep along, especially for readers who enjoyed the first book in the series.

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Teen, 13 years old Written byyummychocolate2814 May 29, 2012

Great, kind of etchy book

Janie is a great role model but does deal with lots of stress. They do talk about prostitution, drugs, alcohol, and etc. Overall it's a great book. It... Continue reading
Teen, 13 years old Written bysydney2232 January 6, 2011

Perfect for teenagers but probably not younger kids or even older people either.

I really liked this book and I think that Revee and Janie make a great couple it is like t.v. in your head !!!!!

What's the story?

Janie has moved back to live with the Springs. She's supposed to go cold turkey, having no contact with her Connecticut family for three months. Her sister, Jodie, has especially looked forward to her return.

Although Janie promised to try her best to fit in, she feels enormous resentment at having to leave her upper-class, loving home to live in the crowded, middle-class loving home of strangers.

She calls her parents \"Mr. and Mrs. Spring,\" and keeps referring to her \"mother\" and \"father\" in Connecticut. The Spring family try their best to help her adjust, but she insists on writing her Connecticut name on her homework and on calling her Connecticut family every day.

When her boyfriend, Reeve, arrives unannounced to visit, she relaxes. At last, Janie makes the decision to go home. Enraged, her sister and her brother, Steve, go to New York, attempting to find the woman who kidnapped Janie.

Is it any good?

Although Caroline Cooney includes an explanation of Janie's kidnapping from the first book, it comes so late that readers new to the series will be confused. Those who have read the first book in this series will rush to find out WHATEVER HAPPENED TO JANIE? Teenagers struggling to find their own identities will understand and empathize with Janie as she tries to become a daughter to strangers. Everything in the Spring household differs radically from her home in Connecticut.

She recognizes that her new family, especially her parents, are good people who truly love her. She doesn't want to hurt them further, yet she also knows the situation is destroying the parents she knows. At the age of 15, Janie can't suddenly forget her entire childhood and begin to become another person. All of these swirling emotions speak to young readers, many of whom struggle to deal with divorce and stepparents in two different homes.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about family ties. Do you see one household or another as Janie's "real" family? Families affected by divorce can use this book as a opener to a conversation about the challenges a family faces when they're divided into two houses, and when other people -- step-parents and siblings -- are added to the mix.

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