BookDragon Books for the Diverse Reader

The Voice on the Radio by Caroline B. Cooney

Voice on the RadioIf you haven’t read the first two titles of the Janie Johnson quartet, then skip this post for sure … no fun knowing too much! And, as the third volume proves, knowing too much can ruin your life. Knowledge might be power, but be sure you know how to wield it or it can only lead to hurt and destruction.

Janie’s back in Connecticut with Frank and Miranda Johnson, her so-called “kidnap family”; they are the parents she painfully chose over her birthfamily in Whatever Happened to Janie?. She’s settled back into her home, her suddenly-older parents, her friends, all that is most familiar … even as everything has irrevocably changed since she recognized her 3-year-old self in The Face on the Milk Carton.

She’s even figured out a sort-of balancing act of back and forth with her New Jersey family – her birthparents, her brothers, her sister. While the outside world remains intrusively curious (coming home to find a reporter on the front porch is more nuisance than surprise), the intertwined Johnson/Spring lives seem to be in slow, precarious recovery. Still, at every turn, Janie vigilantly guards the details of her private ordeal.

The person Janie misses most is boyfriend Reeve who’s gone off to a Boston college. He’s trying to find his own way … and discovers he has both an interest and talent for radio. At his local college station, WSCK – “We’re Here, We’re Yours, We’re Sick!” – Reeve takes the mike one night and begins a story with “Once upon a time …”

What spills out is not his story to tell, and yet in a moment of weakness, Reeve begins to reveal the odyssey of how Janie Johnson learned she was Jennie Spring. Reeve’s voice is mesmerizing, and his local fame is instant. He falls in love with his own voice, his fans, his promise for more glory and recognition, overshadowing the love he felt for that “dizzy redhead” he thought was his whole life.

When the real-life people he’s turned into an on-air circus show find out, the consequences affect not just Reeve and Janie, but the whole mixed-up, trying-to-blend family. One stupid, weak teenage boy’s decision will change all their lives forever …

This is the first of the Janie series I actually read (rather than listened to on iPod while running – where is the audible version?). The pages seemed to turn themselves, even more so because much of the book was very familiar, if not actually repeated sections from the first two books. Caroline B. Cooney cleverly reinvents the first half of her quartet here, giving it a fresh new twist from a different perspective, as well as catching readers up with Janie’s roller-coaster-of-an-unpredictable-life. Stay tuned for the finale, What Janie Found

Readers: Middle Grade, Young Adult

Published: 1996



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