Growing up with parents that are brash, crude and not disciplined themselves and forced to fend for herself, Jane Doe or just plain Jane grew up tough and wanting no real relationships to tie down her life. When Meg died and then she finally meets Luke who understands her hang ups and wants her for the person she claims to be, she pushes him away. In the back of her mind she knows he might be perfect for her and yet the fear of this relationship and thinking he is just waiting to dump her like yesterday’s garbage, causes her to take the step first.
Jane works but is not at the top of the ladder so when Joylene, her brother’s ex calls her about her missing 16 year old niece, Kayla her instincts tell her to back off and steer clear or better yet hang up the phone. But, something within her changes directions and learning more about Kayla, the back that she is a prostitute at sixteen, hangs with the wrong crown and just might be more than missing if abused, enslaves or sold for cash by a pimp, she decides to head to Oklahoma in search of the missing teen. With her brother, her niece’s father in jail, not caring about the missing girl, and then meeting her mother, Wanda, a junkie, you wonder why Kayla turned out to be just like her aunt, Jane, hard, crass and probably willing to do just about anything to stay alive. So, going around her neighborhood she learns about a pimp named Little Dog that her niece was hanging with, but he’s gone. Just where will she continue her search and what will happen if she finds her?
Going to Oklahoma and then asking questions she learns little and realizes that Kayla is not anyone that they want to even attempt to look for. Jane goes as far as seeing her own brother in jail, hoping to get Kayla’s address and then leads to learning about her pimp. Next, she goes to her parent’s and you learn how unfeeling, needy and low they really are. Her mother has no compassion for anyone and knows how to get things for free by pretending to need things. Never cooking a meal for her or her brother, always drunk and at times forcing her to walk home alone at a young age at night, you wonder at all that she turned out working in a law office but the rough edges and cold behavior at times fits her to a T. Kayla is still missing and her mother and father could care less all they wanted from her was rent money and when men showed up and her mother saw the kind of cash to be made all she wanted was some of it so when Jane checked her room she realized where the money might have gone. But, no one has seen Kayla.
Searching more and then finding a man named Frank who claimed to want to coach her on a soccer team the result was he used her and then gave her to Little Dog. The characters are crude, the plotline proves what happens to young girls that feel they have nowhere to go so they settle for what they can get or do no matter what the cost. Kayla is still out there, and she is determined to find her but in between she tries to come to terms with her feelings with Luke, his desire for a normal life with a family and children not Jane’s idea. Added in she tends to search for danger and then we wonder if she is truly asking for the wrong kind of man just to see if she survives or still has that rough edge. But why chance getting raped or worse? Why chance what happens when you are not careful?
Kayla has her own agenda in life and as Jane begins to know her better and takes her under her wing you see threads of similarities between them, but Kayla has a dark edge that Jane sees but not quite crystal clear. She is cunning, conniving and manages to know how to blackmail her marks after using her for their own sexual purposes. Jane is a sociopath and Kayla when you get to know her is even more dangerous. With Jane bent on taking custody of her, the rampage at her parent’s trailer and her mother thinking she’s entitled to money for just holding the teen’s room, the striking resemblance of all three is quite remarkable. Each one able to con the world, get what she wants but who comes out on top at the end?
Jane is quite astute at revenge, vengeance and loves being mean and no holds barred when she wants to make her point. As the narrator of the story, Jane gives us a chilling and freezing picture of herself as we get to understand her, realize she is self-absorbed to a point and both she and Kayla are quite dangerous in their own way.
A lawyer in Minneapolis and Rob who is working on a case that she helped before leaving and tries to convince her to give him her notes and she would take the lead when she comes back, finds himself the object of failure for backstabbing her you won’t believe how. The ending is quite unexpected and when you hear what Kayla tells her you know that there is much more to come and just how will it work out now that Kayla is permanently in her life and that of Luke’s? Characters that are edgy, crude, brash, relentless, needy to a point and at times hard to like and yet you admire Jane for her gutsy personality, her hardcore ways and her realization that Luke just might be the right one to prove she’s worthy of love, but at the end when all is said and done author Victoria Helen Stone created a story that you know has more to go, a teen that has yet to decide on her own future even though she is giving school a chance, and at the end what will be the fate of the Problem Child? A strong female character that you don’t want to turn your back on and hope that we’ll see more of her. Relationships are fragile will hers with Kayla turn to broken glass. Only the next chapter will reveal that!
Fran Lewis: Just reviews