The Secret Life of Lincoln Jones

The Secret Life of Lincoln Jones

 
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The Secret Life of Lincoln Jones
Age Range
8+
Release Date
October 25, 2016
ISBN
978-1101940402
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My secret life is filled with psychic vampires, wheelchair zombies, chain-rattlin’ ghosts, and a one-eyed cat. But they’re nothing compared to my real-life stalker: a sixth-grade girl named Kandi Kain. . . .

Lincoln Jones is always working on the latest story he’s got going in his notebook. Those stories are his refuge. A place where the hero always prevails and the bad guy goes to jail. Real life is messy and complicated, so Lincoln sticks to fiction and keeps to himself. Which works fine until a nosy girl at his new school starts prying into his private business. She wants to know what he’s writing, where he disappears to after school, and why he never talks to anybody. . . .

The Secret Life of Lincoln Jones is a terrifically funny and poignant story about a boy finding the courage to get to know the real characters all around him—and to let them know him.

Editor reviews

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Overall rating 
 
4.0
Plot/Characters/Writing Style 
 
4.0  (1)
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Overall rating 
 
4.0
Plot/Characters/Writing Style 
 
4.0
Illustrations/Photos (if applicable) 
 
N/A

It's hard to be the new kid.

Lincoln and his mother have left their home in another city to flee the mother's abusive boyfriend and moved near Lincoln's aunt. They have a tiny, run down apartment, and Lincoln's mother is an aide at a nursing home. Because she doesn't want to leave him alone, Lincoln walks to the home after school each day to do his homework and occasionally visit with the residents. He is having difficulties at school, where the other students make fun of his Southern accent, and Kandi Kane (yes, her real name-- don't give her a hard time!) seems to be picking on him. At first, Lincoln doesn't like going to the home because he thinks the oldies, especially the ones in the extensive memory unit, are just weird. He gets to know some of them a bit more, and starts to appreciate their individuality. He and his mother also try to befriend an elderly neighbor who needs help but doesn't want to accept it. Lincoln is happy that he and his mother are safe and able to go to school and work and have enough to eat, and eventually makes his peace with the other children at school.

Good Points
Van Draanen's writing is always intriguing and well crafted, and I very much appreciated that while there were lots of things in Lincoln's life that weren't perfect, the general tone of the book was upbeat. I'm a huge fan of making the best of a bad situation, whether in books or in real life. The scenes in the nursing home were realistic and touching without being maudlin. Lincoln's interactions with his classmates were also spot on. Very nice balance. Lincoln and his mother were great characters, as was Mrs. Graves, their feisty yet ailing neighbor.

In a reversal of my usual complaint, I do wish that this book were about 20 pages LONGER so that a couple of questions were answered. What's with Kandi's manicures? Why is Isaac having so many troubles with classmates? I really wanted to know a lot more about Mrs. Graves. Keeping a middle grade novel under 200 pages is always a good call, however, and readers can exercise their imaginations filling in the blanks.

For readers who enjoyed Buyea's Because of Mr. Terupt, Bauer's Almost Home, Connor's All Rise for the Honorable Perry T. Cook and Peck's The Best Man, The Secret Life of Lincoln Jones is a poignant yet highly readable book about a boy triumphing amidst difficult circumstances.
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