N.B. This also applies to characters from the follow-up, “Whatever Happened to Janie?” and the TV adaptation that combined elements from both books starring Kellie Martin.
Reeve, Janie’s stupid handsome helpful boyfriend, who takes every opportunity to ask Janie, “What if we just blew all this off and went to a hotel room and DID IT,” like when she’s crying about finding out the people who raised her aren’t actually her parents, or when she’s trying to find out who her parents are, or when she meets her biological parents for the first time. REEVE. GUY. I KNOW YOUR FACE IS SYMMETRICAL AND YOU’RE EXCITED ABOUT GETTING TO SHAVE, but this is not a book about Doing It for the first time, this is a book about how everyone in the world has been lying to your girlfriend, and she does not have time for your body right now. Save it for later, Reeve! Your body won’t spoil, it’s not perishable, or at least not in this time frame it isn’t!
Sarah-Charlotte, Janie’s friend who was drinking the carton of milk with Janie’s picture on it, for causing all this mess. This book could have been about Janie going to prom and losing her virginity to a less annoying virgin of Reeve, but you had to ruin everything with your milk and your two names, Sarah-Charlotte. I hope you’re happy.
Janie’s old as hell parents for not coming up with a better cover story or strategy than just “hope Janie never asks us a single question about the first five years of her life.” When someone shows up on your doorstep with a kid and says “Don’t worry about it” when you ask for a birth certificate or medical records, you don’t just take the baby, move out of town, and change your name, and then start volunteering a lot! You definitely suspected she was a little bit kidnapped, which is fine, but own your choices and strategize. You two fell apart the second the game got a little rough, and I can’t respect that.
Jodie and Stephen, Janie’s USELESS siblings, who I mentally assign the same category as Andrea’s useless friends in The Devil Wears Prada. Oh, you’re mad at Janie for not immediately fitting in to your stupid close-knit family? SHE GOT KIDNAPPED, YOU EMOTIONAL LEECHES. NOW IS NOT THE TIME TO MAKE RELATIONAL DEMANDS. Maybe give her some space before you ask her to join your weird Sound of Music-style gang. Kellie Martin is a goddamn TREASURE and she is going through a LOT and you need to BACK OFF.
Janie is perfect and everyone else needs to get off of her fucking case. Janie you are going through a lot and everyone wants something from you but not me, Janie. You yell at everybody because yours is the most justified case of teenage angst ever to come down the pike. Nobody understands you, not even the milk carton.
Janie’s biological parents for just being unbearably cheesy. I read this book when I was fourteen, which is the age of greatest resistance to forced cheer, and I have hated them ever since. STOP BEING SO HAPPY. LIFE IS SUFFERING AND YOU MUST ACKNOWLEDGE IT.
The New York City police officer who points to a random homeless woman and tells Janie that LIFE has probably punished Hannah enough because odds are good that she is living on the streets with an untreated mental illness, which, WHOA, GUY, a of all, that is not how the police are supposed to respond to someone saying, “Hey, I was deeply kidnapped as a child,” like, “Oh, well, don’t worry, your kidnapper is probably SUPER sad and impoverished now, that’s just what happens to people who join cults” and b of all, I know the cops aren’t actually invested in mental health services, but shouldn’t you like, at least a little bit of pretend to care that this obviously disturbed woman isn’t receiving treatment for her numerous issues? Like, if you don’t want to throw her in jail for the kidnapping, wouldn’t it at the least be nice to get her to a hospital? You can’t trust cops to care about justice, that’s the lesson of this book, I guess, which is not a bad moral for a book.
Mallory is an Editor of The Toast.