Genre: Middle Grade Realistic Fiction
Rating: (1-5, 5 is a starred review) 3.5
What did you like about the book? Lincoln Jones keeps a lot of secrets. He has to. He and his mom have escaped an abusive home life and are living from hand to mouth in an unheated apartment on her wages as a nursing assistant. His afternoons are spent hanging around the old people she takes care of.
Not the kind of personal life you want to share with your new schoolmates, who are ready to bully you at every turn. And yet this is not a grim tale. In fact it opens with old Ruby Hobbs dancing to and singing a tune from My Fair Lady. And did I mention she was “buck naked”? Van Draanen knows her audience. She infuses the reality with just enough levity to engage the reader.
Fortunately Lincoln has an outlet—his imagination and his writing. Although this does lead him to believe the nursing home is populated by “psychic vampires, wheelchair zombies and chain-rattlin’ ghosts”, in reality just the elderly patients who live there.
With the help of a classmate, the compassion of his mother and the old folks he has come to know, Lincoln embraces his truth and tells all in The Secret Life of Lincoln Jones.
Anything you didn’t like about it? Kandi Kain was not an entirely believable character.
To whom would you recommend this book? / Who should buy this book? Recommended purchase for both public and elementary school libraries. Close to Famous by Joan Bauer also features a child who escapes an abusive relationship.
Where would you shelve it? Juvenile fiction
Should we (librarians/readers) put this on the top of our “to read” piles? No.
Reviewer’s Name, Library (or school), City: Nancy Riemer Kellner, Peaslee Elementary School Library, Northborough, MA
Date of review: 12/7/2016