cover image The Voice on the Radio

The Voice on the Radio

Caroline B. Cooney. Delacorte Press, $15.95 (192pp) ISBN 978-0-385-32213-3

Readers of Cooney's addictive The Face on the Milk Carton and Whatever Happened to Janie? can start licking their chops. This juicy novel serves up the further life and times of Janie Johnson, who in the previous works learned that she had been kidnapped at age three from one loving family and deposited with another. Cooney brings new readers up to speed ingeniously: Janie's boyfriend, Reeve, now a college freshman, is trying to make a name for himself at the campus radio station, and in desperation he resorts to brief installments of Janie's twisted history. He achieves almost instant popularity and fame, which help salve his conscience for betraying Janie's deepest confidences. Meanwhile Janie, a very private person, endures her senior year of high school, fending off incursions from reporters and curious classmates, and drawing closer to her birth family, the Springs. Janie hazards upon one of Reeve's broadcasts and is devastated; Cooney compensates for the predictability of this plotting with a few gorgeously timed surprises. What this novel (and its predecessors) lacks in credibility it makes up for in psychological accuracy and well-aimed, gossipy views of teens--Cooney seems to have a special radar for adolescent longings and insecurities, not to mention campus chic (one of Reeve's fellow deejays, for example, affects the on-air name Derek Himself). Janie's appeal is so believable that readers will want to believe in the story, too, especially in the tender scenes between Janie and her Spring mother. Ages 12-up. (Oct.) Nonfiction