Dear Caroline B. Cooney
The Face on the Milk Carton series caused me extensive reactions. They really worked their way into my heart. They showed me just how important parents can be and how devastating it is to lose them. I also saw the other side of a kidnapping. It was interesting and scary. I never recognized how much it broke a parent's heart to lose a child. I realized how much worse being kidnapped is, to just having a child die, because the parents never know what happened. These books made me think twice about what my parents caution me not to do. I wouldn't be able to stand seeing them go through the pain of losing me, their child.
I liked how the story was twisted to make it really unique, but yet, normal. For instance, you made Janie seem very real because she still had ordinary problems like having a boyfriend. Reeve seemed like the perfect guy, but when he made his mistake at the radio station it helped me to realize that no guy is perfect and they will all make mistakes. The series helped me to be able to really connect and put myself in her position. Everything about the books surprised me. First, how abruptly her life changed just by picking up that certain milk carton on that particular day. The coincidence was definitely planned, but it seemed less obvious by adding real life problems that are very believable.
The way that Janie's parents loved her was really sad. They were so attached to her that I'm surprised they made it through all the terrible truths that were discovered after Janie called the number on the milk carton. I started to realize throughout the books that my parents love me just as much as her parents did, but my parents love me enough to give me freedom.
Janie's New Jersey home was a lot like mine. It's homey and filled with love. My home isn't crowded, but it shares many of her home's characteristics. These books were very interesting because of how different Janie's life is, compared to mine. I got to see another side of what a childhood can be like. Her life was much different because she had very confusing teenage years. When Janie was worried about who her real parents were, I was simply worrying about whether I was going to get my driver's license or not. My problems just seemed a lot less trivial when I realized how bad it really could be.
Janie was very strong and I'd like to think if I were put in her situation, I would be too. I do know that I have a lot of determination and that's what helped Janie find the truth. I have pretty strong emotions and I know I would have broken down many times, but I also would have sucked it up and kept going. Janie was very similar. She was like a roller coaster. Sometimes she was ready to roll and then she was falling with no end in sight.
I learned a valuable lesson in forgiveness too. Until you forgive someone, you are going to be burdened with whatever is between you and the other person. It really helped Janie to forgive Reeve. It was like letting sunshine back into her life. Janie's New Jersey family also was able to forgive Janie for the terrible years they experienced when she was gone. Even though it wasn't Janie's fault, the children, especially Stephen, had turned to blaming Janie for ruining the family. Forgiveness is the key to moving on. Without forgiveness, you never really let go of the burden. These books really helped me to realize that bad things happen and a lot of the time you have no control. If you handle the situation with as much dignity and thoughtfulness to other people's feelings as possible, the outcome will be much better. If the outcome is better then forgiveness might come a little bit easier.
Overall, these books were great to read and I learned so much. I was really able to enter Janie's world. That's how I know when a book is really good. I can envelop myself in the story as it unravels to reveal the life of someone else. I love being able to connect with other characters, and I love getting a chance to hear their stories, even if the character isn't a real life person. Janie and her family have truly inspired me, and the values they have will continue to influence me on a daily basis.