Friday, September 30, 2011

Beginning ~ with an essay (BBW #4)

Review #4 for Banned Books Week (BBW)

The Face on the Milk Carton ~ by Caroline B. Cooney, 1990, YA fiction (Connecticut), 9/10

Summary:  A photograph of a missing girl on a milk carton leads 15-year-old Janie to think she was kidnapped a decade ago.  So she goes on a search for her real identity.
"Janie finished her essay.  She never knew what grade she would get in Mr. Brylowe's English class.  Whenever she joked, he wanted the essay serious.  Whenever she was serious, he had intended the essay to be light-hearted."
I was curious enough to keep reading after those opening lines, but more because of the mystery of that face on a milk carton.  Writing an essay?  That's what I do when I review a book.  On the other hand, when I was her age, I also had to learn about writing and (as I read on the next page or so) thought about names.  She thinks "Jane" is too plain, so she considers "Jayne."  I, on the other hand, was the only Bonnie I knew, besides the aunt I was named for, so I longed for a more usual kind of name.  I guess all kids feel weird about something.

I kept reading this book, but I wasn't imagining how it would feel if I'd been taken from my mom and dad, as I think most teens would, but as the mom wondering where her daughter was.  For example, this section really got to me.  All I could think was that her mother had missed all of these life events.
"Janie climbed the stairs to her room, passing by the ascending wall of photographs.  Her parents disliked albums: they immortalized Janie on the stairs.  Janie at the beach, on skis, in a Scout uniform, in her first dancing dress.  Janie on their trip to the Grand Canyon.  Janie in gymnastics.  Janie at the Middle School Awards Ceremony.  Janie on the runway for the fashion show the hospital sponsored as a benefit" (p. 26).
Why was this book banned?  I can't imagine, since there's nothing in it that seems objectionable.  Janie and a boy had an opportunity for sex, but didn't.  Yet in 2002-2003, it was challenged in Texas Public Schools for "sexual content and challenge to authority."  Ignore them and read the book, which kept me turning the pages.  When I learned there are three more books in the series, I got online tonight and put them on hold at my library so I can read.....
Whatever happened to Janie? (1993)
The Voice on the Radio (1996)
What Janie Found (2000)
I rate this one 9 of 10, an excellent book.  Also posted on my Banned Books blog.

  If you want to play along, this meme is hosted by Katy at A Few More Pages. Share the first sentence or two of the book you are reading. (Sometimes it takes several sentences to get the full thought.) Then, share your impressions of that beginning.  Click this link to see what others say about the books they are reading this week.


Yvonne @ Fiction Books Reviews said...

Hi Bonnie,
What a fantastic book, I can't posibly think why this one would have been banned!! gave me the chance to read the inside cover page as written by the author and I was completely entranced by it.
This is a definite for my reading list.

I also tend to write an essay when I am reviewing a book, perhaps that is why I make a better reader than I would author, all my books would be sure to be epic sagas!!

Why is it that we are never happy with our names. My mother gave me two French names Yvonne Denise, on the supposition that they couldn't be shortened and that no-one else in the class would have the same name...... There were two other Yvonne's in my class, and my name was always being shortened to Bonnie or Vonnie, which annoyed my mother intensely.

Thanks for a great post, I really enjoyed reading it.


Anonymous said...

The beginning is fine, but I find the title and the cover a lot more interesting too :-)

Julie @ Read Handed said...

When I saw this book on the Banned Book list, I also wondered why it would be objectionable. I loved this book when I was a teen - I read all the books about Jane.

Laurel-Rain Snow said...

Wow, this one does sound like a must-read. I got a chill when I saw that wall of photos in the stairwell. That's where I had many family photos when living in a two-storey house.

I love suspense, and this one sounds like it's full of it. Told from the girl's point of view, I imagine it will be very emotional.


Bonnie Jacobs said...

On the author's page written to "Dear Reader" that Yvonne (fiction-books) mentioned, Caroline Cooney says she saw hundreds of posters in the concourse at LaGuardia of a child missing for 15 years. It brought her to tears, thinking "you can't recognize anybody fifteen years later from a picture at age two." It was the beginning of this book: "And then it hit me. There was one person who might recognize the missing child. And that of course was the child herself."

Yvonne, I named my children Barbara, Sandra, and David because these are not always shortened. I prefer a full name, yet I left my children the option of names that CAN be shortened. The only one who got a nickname, at least at work, was Sandra -- who went to work in an office where the only other employee was also Sandra, and she'd been there longer.

Laurel-Rain, yes, very emotional. Now you see why I want to read all the following books about Janie.

Bev Hankins said...

The beginning is okay--but I don't think I'd keep reading if there wasn't that cover and I didn't know the synopsis.

Here's mine:

Bonnie Jacobs said...

Bev's beginning sounded serious until "the sudden acquisition of wealth," which made me laugh.

Nise' said...

This was a good book. I have to read the rest of the series.

Tea said...

The title of the book really catches me. The beginning is good too.

Katy said...

Poor Janie! I had the same problem with one of my Jr. High English teachers.

Thanks for participating in Book Beginnings!

raidergirl3 said...

I went on the full Janie book binge this summer and found the books suspenseful. I couldn't believe there were four books. (the last one is only so so, but you can't not read it after reading the first three!).

Helen's Book Blog said...

I read this book ages ago and remember being riveted by it. I think I'd have a tough time reading it now since I have a 10 year old. It might feel too close to home!

Bonnie Jacobs said...

Raidergirl, that fourth book did answer a few questions so I could tie up the series. I'm glad I read all four in a week, without having to wait years between books.