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The Secret Life of Lincoln Jones

Cover of The Secret Life of Lincoln Jones

The Secret Life of Lincoln Jones

Award-winning author Wendelin Van Draanen gives us a fresh and funny story about a boy learning to become the brave hero of his own life. Perfect for fans of Counting by 7s and The Fourteenth Goldfish.

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.
Praise for The Secret Life of Lincoln Jones:
"Van Draanen's engaging story is characterized by clever writing, a palpable affection for her characters, and a deep understanding of what's important about life. Readers will love Lincoln Jones."—Kirkus Reviews
"Van Draanen skillfully wraps up her tale, offering a realistically happy ending. A story with a perfect balance of mirth and poignancy." — School Library Journal
"Lincoln is a delightful narrator." — Booklist
From the Hardcover edition.
Award-winning author Wendelin Van Draanen gives us a fresh and funny story about a boy learning to become the brave hero of his own life. Perfect for fans of Counting by 7s and The Fourteenth Goldfish.

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.
Praise for The Secret Life of Lincoln Jones:
"Van Draanen's engaging story is characterized by clever writing, a palpable affection for her characters, and a deep understanding of what's important about life. Readers will love Lincoln Jones."—Kirkus Reviews
"Van Draanen skillfully wraps up her tale, offering a realistically happy ending. A story with a perfect balance of mirth and poignancy." — School Library Journal
"Lincoln is a delightful narrator." — Booklist
From the Hardcover edition.
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  • From the cover

    1

    An Unexpected Blow

    Ruby Hobbs came out of her room, dancing and singing, buck naked, again. "All I want is a room somewhere, far away from the cold night air," she warbled, her old body jigglin' and wigglin'.

    Ruby being naked may sound funny, but it's a sight so disturbing even Teddy C can't take it, and that's saying something. Teddy C ogles all the oldies. Fat ones, bony ones, doesn't seem to matter to him. He's ninety, but his eye is always roving. He does the whistle, too. Or at least he tries. It's more air than sound, but there's no mistaking what he's thinking.

    At first I thought the whistle was a joke, but Ma says it's for real and that his old-guy eyes see what they used to know, not what's actually there.

    Except, I guess, in the case of Ruby Hobbs. "Somebody help!" Teddy C called, like he was being robbed. "She's at it again!"

    "Now, now, dear," Gloria said, snatching a sheet from one of the monster-eye dryers and rushing over to wrap Ruby in it. "You can't dance at the ball without a gown on. What would the governor think?"

    Gloria sure does have a way with the oldies. Maybe it's how she can jump inside whatever fantasy or memory they're in the middle of. Or maybe it's the fake flower she wears in her hair. It's the exact same one every day, but every day it seems brand-new to the folks living at Brookside. "Oh, what a beautiful bloom!" someone'll say, like it's the first time they've seen it. "As pretty as you," Gloria'll reply, which makes them blush. Like it's the first time they've been paid the compliment.

    It could also be the way Gloria's voice always seems to calm things down. Her now, nows and there, theres work like she's castin' a spell.

    Whatever it is about Gloria, her magic doesn't only work on the oldies. It works on me, too. Ma tells me, "Focus," but all I can think about is how dumb it is that I have to spend my afterschools here, in an old-folks' home.

    Gloria, though, will give me a little smile and whisper, "Now, now, Lincoln. Remember, the more schoolwork you get done here, the less you'll have to do when you get home," and just like that, I buckle down.

    But back to Ruby.

    I'd been coming to Brookside every school day since September, and even though we were in the middle of November, it was still a surprise to see Ruby bust out her dance moves. Aside from her being naked, which I guess anyone can figure out how to get, the big shock is always seeing her move.

    Normally she shuffles. Shuff, shuff, shuff, her slippers go. Shuff, shuff, shuff, slow and tired. All the oldies shuffle. Usually with walkers, or while hanging on the arm of one of the nurses. Or, I guess, "caregivers." The word seems so stiff, but Ma says I need to use it, seeing how caregivers are not actually nurses. At Brookside, nurses are the ones in white shirts, and caregivers are the ones in purple shirts. Nurses do the pills and the blood pressure and call the ambulance. Caregivers do the meals and the clothes and all the nasties. Like mopping up accidents. And changing diapers. And dressing corpses.

    But back to shufflin'.

    It's what all the oldies do. Going to the Clubhouse at mealtimes, to the Activities Room for entertainment hour, to the patio for a little afternoon sun . . . they shuffle and they look straight down at the floor. It's easy to get lulled into how slow everything goes. Which is why Ruby coming out of her room naked with her arms out and twirling is always such a shock.

    This time, though, it was different.

    ...

About the Author-
  • Wendelin Van Draanen is the author of many beloved and award-winning books. For middle graders, she's written Swear to Howdy and the Sammy Keyes mystery series. For teens and tweens, there's Flipped, The Running Dream, Confessions of a Serial Kisser, and Runaway. And for younger readers, check out the Shredderman quartet and the Gecko and Sticky series. Wendelin Van Draanen lives in Central California with her husband and two sons. Find her on the Web at WendelinVanDraanen.com or on Twitter: @WendelinVanD.
Reviews-
  • Publisher's Weekly

    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.

  • AudioFile Magazine Narrator J.B. Adkins's Southern accent is apparent but not overly dramatic. He uses this nuance to capture 11-year-old Lincoln Jones, who is mocked by his new classmates for his drawl. Adkins also captures Lincoln's humorous takes on life and his habit of hiding the truth. He doesn't want his classmates to know that he writes stories, that he and his mother have recently escaped from her abusive boyfriend, or that he must meet his mother every day in a dementia unit, where he avoids "the crazies" as best he can. Adkins also reflects Lincoln's emotional development as he comes to understand his mother's difficult situation, the heartbreaking condition of dementia, the harsh realities of aging and death, and the necessity of being honest with others and with himself. S.W. � AudioFile 2016, Portland, Maine
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