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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.