Plugged In exists to shine a light on the world of popular entertainment while giving you and your family the essential tools you need to understand, navigate and impact the culture in which we live. Through reviews, articles and discussions, we want to spark intellectual thought, spiritual growth and a desire to follow the command of Colossians 2:8: "See to it that no one takes you captive through hollow and deceptive philosophy, which depends on human tradition and the basic principles of this world rather than on Christ."


Family uses Plugged In as a ‘significant compass’

"I am at a loss for words to adequately express how much it means to my husband and me to know that there is an organization like Focus that is rooting for us. Just today I was reading Psalm 37 and thinking about how your ministry provides ways to 'dwell in the land and enjoy safe pasture.' We have two teenagers and an 8-year-old in our household...Plugged In has become a significant compass for our family. All three of our kids are dedicated to their walk with Christ but they still encounter challenges. Thanks for all of your research and persistence in helping us navigate through stormy waters."

Plugged In helps college student stand-up for his belief

"Thanks for the great job you do in posting movie and television reviews online. I’m a college freshman and I recently had a confrontational disagreement with my English professor regarding an R-rated film. It is her favorite movie and she wanted to show it in class. I went to your Web site to research the film’s content. Although I had not seen the movie myself, I was able to make an educated argument against it based on the concerns you outlined. The prof said that she was impressed by my stand and decided to poll the whole class and give us a choice. We overwhelmingly voted to watch a G-rated movie instead! I’ve learned that I can trust your site and I will be using it a lot in the future.”

Plugged In brings ‘Sanity and Order’ to Non-believer

“Even though I don’t consider myself a Christian, I find your Plugged In Web site useful and thought-provoking. No one reviews movies like you do. Instead of being judgmental, you put entertainment ‘on trial.’ After presenting the evidence, you allow the jury of your readers to decide for themselves what they should do. In my opinion, you bring sanity and order to the wild world of modern day entertainment. Keep up the good work!”

Mom thinks Plugged In is the ‘BEST Christian media review site’

"Our family doesn't go to the movies until we go online and check out your assessment of a given film. I think this is the BEST Christian media review website that I've found, and I recommend it to my family and friends. Keep up the good work!"


Our hope is that whether you're a parent, youth leader or teen, the information and tools at Plugged In will help you and your family make appropriate media decisions. We are privileged to do the work we do, and are continually thankful for the generosity and support from you, our loyal readers, listeners and friends.

We hope this review was both interesting and useful. Please share it with family and friends who would benefit from it as well.

Book Review

Whatever Happened to Janie? by Caroline B. Cooney has been reviewed by Focus on the Family’s marriage and parenting magazine. It is the second book in the "Janie Johnson" series.

Positive Elements

Spiritual Content

Sexual Content

Violent Content

Crude or Profane Language

Drug and Alcohol Content

Other Negative Elements


Pro-social Content

Objectionable Content

Summary Advisory

Plot Summary

In The Face on the Milk Carton, 15-year-old Janie Johnson made the shocking discovery that she'd been kidnapped at age 3. The beloved couple she'd thought were her parents had secretly believed Janie was their granddaughter. Their daughter, Hannah, had run away and joined a cult. She returned one day with Janie, claiming the child was her daughter. When Hannah left to rejoin the cult alone, her parents changed their name to Johnson and moved around frequently to ensure Janie wouldn't be found and taken by cult members. They let Janie believe she was their child. When Janie and the Johnsons learn that Hannah kidnapped the girl, Janie decides to contact her biological parents.

Whatever Happened to Janie begins when Janie is introduced to her biological family, the Springs. Mr. and Mrs. Spring are loving parents with four additional children. Stephen is a teen, still angry about the way a missing sister has impacted his life. Jodie is slightly older than Janie, and twin boys, Brian and Brendan, are a few years younger. After the kidnapping of Jennie Spring years earlier, the Spring parents became fearful and overprotective, keeping a tight rein on their children. They also refused to move out of the house they'd outgrown lest their daughter should return looking for them. When Janie calls them, they're delighted and shocked. They promise not to press charges against Hannah as long as their daughter returns to live with them. Janie doesn't want to leave the mom and dad she loves, but she doesn't want to hurt them further by getting Hannah in legal trouble. She agrees to move back to New Jersey with the Springs.

The Springs call her Jennie, despite the fact that she's been Janie for years. Although she finds them kind, loving people, she resists getting close to them for fear of betraying her other parents. She and the Spring family experience many emotional ups and downs together, but Janie never feels quite at home. An FBI agent visits to get Janie's story about the kidnapping. He informs her that Hannah will be hunted down and brought to trial regardless of the Springs' wishes. Janie tells the Springs she wants to go back to her other family. She keeps in contact with them and even hosts her siblings for visits.

With their daughter gone again, the Springs are hurt and angry. They direct most of their bitterness toward the elusive Hannah. Stephen and Jodie decide to go to New York City, where Hannah was last seen and arrested for prostitution, and find her. In the midst of their search, a police officer points out a dirty, insane-looking vagrant. He tells them that might as well be Hannah, because that's what happens to people who are too old to make money in cults or are prostitutes. Stephen and Jodie return home, realizing life has probably exacted its own revenge on Hannah.

Christian Beliefs

The Springs consider themselves a religious family. They attend mass and pray before meals. One night, as the family prepares to say goodbye to Jennie and move on with life, Dad says a fervent prayer at dinner. He thanks God for the time they have had with her and prays He will give her a guardian angel. Jodie notes that this prayer was different than her father's regular prayers, which seemed to be ordering the kids to behave and be thankful. This prayer was really to the Lord. She also felt He must have been there in their midst because of the relief the family seemed to feel after the prayer that relinquished Jennie to God. When Jodie was little, she didn't feel a lot of anxiety about Jennie's kidnapping because if both Daddy and the Lord told her not to worry, she didn't feel she needed to worry.

The Springs ask if Hannah was religious, if she prayed and read the Bible. Janie says her family isn't religious. Hannah's parents said if they had talked about faith, Hannah might have become a nun or the kind of person who spent life in religious contemplation based on her thoughtful personality. Janie is careful how she talks to the Springs about religion. She goes to Mass with them and finds it a strange way to spend an hour.

Stephen points out that Hannah must have known she needed to be religious and that she just needed to find a church. Janie corrects him, saying that she didn't find a church, she found a cult. Mr. Spring explains that cults are largely for making money. A person can call himself a priest of a cult and then find gullible rich kids to follow him and beg for him on the streets.

Sleepless at 4 a.m., Janie feels lost in her new home. She says the part of her that is a Spring prays for grace because she knows she needs it, even thought she's not sure what grace is. She later says that the words from Mrs. Springs' hymn had spoken to her. She was blind, but now she sees that she needs to be with her real family, the people who raised her.

Other Belief Systems

Hannah joins a cult, which is briefly explained as a sort of religious group that brainwashes its members and directs all aspects of their lives. Anything uttered by the cult leader was Truth, and everything else was corruption.

Around the dinner table, the Springs (parents included) discuss the sort of revenge they'd like to get on Hannah for ruining their lives. Jodie and Stephen decide to act on their desire for revenge by hunting for Hannah and turning her in to the police.

Stephen knows kids who believe in ESP, that one spirit could communicate with another. He knows it isn't true, because he saw how hard his mother tried and failed to communicate with his lost sister.

Janie says her boyfriend's name is like a talisman for her, making her happy again when she's sad.

Authority Roles

Mom and Dad, though emotionally and physically devastated at losing Janie, respect her decision to be with her birth family. The Spring parents are thrilled to have their daughter home and do their best to fit her into their chaotic, crowded home and life. They attempt to be understanding when Janie's comments about her other parents are hurtful.


The Lord's name is used in vain several times.


Reeve, her boyfriend, repeatedly alludes to his fantasies about Janie and how much he wants her sexually. He's frustrated because whenever he wants to move further physically, she just wants to talk. He thinks about how great it is to be old enough to shave. He realizes that sex will be better, though more difficult to get, than razors. When Janie sees Reeve for the first time after moving in with the Springs, she jumps in his lap and showers him with kisses. Janie asks Reeve what love really is, and he replies that love does not involve talking. Watching Reeve and Janie, Jodie imagines their mother talking to Janie about safe sex, or more likely, no sex. She wonders if Janie has already had sex, and she wishes her sister would confide in her about such things.

The Springs are glad to learn that Janie wasn't tortured or raped when she was abducted. A detective on the case tells the Springs many children are abducted for sexual purposes. He also tells them Hannah was arrested a few years earlier for prostitution.

Discussion Topics

Get free discussion questions for this book and others, at FocusOnTheFamily.com/discuss-books.

Additional Comments/Notes

You can request a review of a title you can't find at reviewrequests@family.org.

Book reviews cover the content, themes and worldviews of fiction books, not their literary merit, and equip parents to decide whether a book is appropriate for their children. The inclusion of a book's review does not constitute an endorsement by Focus on the Family.

Episode Reviews



Readability Age Range

12 and up


Caroline B. Cooney






Record Label



Ember, an imprint of Random House Children's Books


On Video

Year Published



Iowa Teen Book Award, 1996


We hope this review was both interesting and useful. Please share it with family and friends who would benefit from it as well.

Get weekly e-news, Culture Clips & more!