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.
Potentially Sensitive Areas: References to domestic abuse
Booklist (October 15, 2016 (Online))
Grades 4-7. Sixth grade is tough, especially when you’re new and spend your afternoons with the “oldies” at Brookside, a memory care facility. Lincoln’s ma, having recently escaped an abusive boyfriend, takes a job as a caregiver at Brookside. At school, Lincoln hides his love of writing stories, his thick Southern accent, and, most important, his Brookside connection. Lincoln thinks all the Brookside oldies are crazy, but as he gets to know them, he realizes he’s seeing the illogical, heartbreaking effects of dementia. Humorous dialogue and a swift plot, occasionally dragged down by contrived situations, anchor this realistic story. Lincoln is a delightful narrator, prone to daydreaming about stories. He has a strong, supportive relationship with his mother, although his ability to bounce back after living in an abusive situation seems unrealistic. Aging and dying with dignity are lightly touched upon, but never quite as deeply as one would hope. This book is a good place to start a classroom discussion on intergenerational relationships and the effects of memory loss.
Publishers Weekly Annex (October 17, 2016)
Eleven-year-old Lincoln has several secrets: the stories he writes in his notebook, his cross-country move with his mother to escape her abusive boyfriend, and the home for people with memory loss and dementia where his mother works (and where Lincoln hangs out after school). Lincoln, who thinks of the residents as “the crazies,” is mortified at the thought of his classmates discovering where he spends his time-he’s already an outcast and a bullying target. But one outspoken classmate, the memorably named Kandi Kane, takes a persistent interest in him and as Lincoln gets to know the group home’s residents better, he begins to see that he isn’t the only one with secrets and stories. Van Draanen (the Sammy Keyes series) effectively portrays the frustrations of aging and memory loss through a mix of humor, sharp-eyed observations, and the compassion of Lincoln’s mother and her colleagues. Lincoln is relatable in his flaws and insecurities, and the story’s supporting characters are equally well-developed. It’s a moving coming-of-age story about creating new and unexpected connections. Ages 8-12. Agent: Ginger Knowlton, Curtis Brown.
About the Author
Wendelin Van Draanen has written more than thirty novels for young readers and teens. She is the author of the 18-book Edgar-winning Sammy Keyes mystery series, and wrote Flipped which was named a Top 100 Children’s Novel for the 21st Century by SLJ and became a Warner Brothers feature film in 2010.
Her other stand-alone titles include The Secret Life of Lincoln Jones, Runaway, Confessions of a Serial Kisser, Swear to Howdy, and The Running Dream which was awarded ALA’s Schneider Family Award for its portrayal of the disability experience.
Van Draanen has also created two four-book series for younger readers. The Shredderman books feature a boy who deals with a bully and received the Christopher Award for “affirming the highest values of the human spirit,” and The Gecko & Sticky books, which are fun read-alouds, perfect for reluctant readers.
A classroom teacher for fifteen years, Van Draanen is married to Mark Huntley Parsons, also an author, and they have two sons.
Her website is www.wendelinvand.com.
Around the Web
The Secret Life of Lincoln Jones on Amazon
The Secret Life of Lincoln Jones on JLG
The Secret Life of Lincoln Jones on Goodreads