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My Life with the Lincolns Hardcover – March 16, 2010

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Product Details

  • Age Range: 10 - 14 years
  • Grade Level: 5 - 9
  • Lexile Measure: 840L (What's this?)
  • Hardcover: 256 pages
  • Publisher: Henry Holt and Co. (BYR); First Edition edition (March 16, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0805090134
  • ISBN-13: 978-0805090130
  • Product Dimensions: 5.8 x 1 x 8.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12.8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (6 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #787,398 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From School Library Journal

Grade 5–8—It's the summer of 1966, and sixth-grader Mina has her work cut out for her. Her overactive imagination has convinced her that because her father's initials spell "ABE," the Edelmans are the Lincolns reincarnated. Now she must save her family from their fate. This means making sure that she doesn't die of bilious fever, that her dad doesn't get assassinated, and that her mother doesn't go crazy. Mina is unclear what bilious fever is, but frequently sprays herself with OFF!, just in case. Her father, inspired by the history of discrimination against his Jewish heritage, decides to take her, without her mother's knowledge, to civil-rights protests in nearby Chicago where they participate in an all-night vigil and get involved in real-estate testing to prove racism in rentals. Mina's parents grow apart, and her father forms a friendship with a fellow protester and African American, Carla. At the end, Mina is ready to let go of her notion of reincarnation and wrestles with issues of injustice and discrimination. Brandeis seamlessly intersperses serious topics with laugh-out-loud humor. Mina is a budding journalist, writing a newsletter full of Lincoln lore to promote her father's furniture store, Honest Abe's. Her voice is clear and unique; her view of life's confusions is endearing and funny. The setting is perfectly captured, from Johnny Carson on television to bouffant hairdos. While the book's humor may be the first attraction for young readers, this is also a solid addition to historical-fiction collections.—Connie Tyrrell Burns, Mahoney Middle School Library, South Portland, ME
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From Booklist

Twelve-year-old Mina Edelman is convinced that her family members are the Lincolns reincarnate, and she has many coincidences to back her up, such as their Illinois roots, her father’s initials (A.B.E.), and her instinctual preoccupation to protect him from potential assassination. Belief in civil rights is another link, and in this summer of 1966, the news is all about Martin Luther King Jr.’s leadership of the Chicago Freedom Movement in a housing campaign, with which A.B.E., a well-meaning if sometimes awkward suburban furniture salesman, and Mina become deeply involved. Vietnam, interracial dating, machine politics, parental separation, a mass murder, and puberty are also part of the story, which includes some racially derogatory language. The narrative voice wavers in Brandeis’ first foray into writing for children, but both the plot and pacing are sound, and the historical elements are accurate, with one exception: the Bears didn’t play football at Soldier Field until the 1970s. Most importantly, the strong theme of social justice creates a unifying thread in this informative, clear, personal, and passionate novel. Grades 5-7. --Andrew Medlar

More About the Author

I am the author of Fruitflesh: Seeds of Inspiration for Women Who Write (HarperSanFrancisco), The Book of Dead Birds: A Novel (HarperCollins), which won Barbara Kingsolver's Bellwether Prize for Fiction in Support of a Literature of Social Change, Self Storage (Ballantine), Delta Girls (Ballantine) and my first novel for young readers, My Life with the Lincolns (Henry Holt Books for Young Readers). The Book of Live Wires, the sequel to The Book of Dead Birds, is available now exclusively as an ebook. You can visit me at It's always a pleasure to hear from readers.

Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By M. Tanenbaum VINE VOICE on May 31, 2010
Format: Hardcover
In her first novel for young people, Gayle Brandeis has created a quirky and delightful heroine, Mina Edelman. It's 1966 in Downers Grove, Illinois, a nearly all-white suburb of Chicago, and Mina is convinced that she and her family are reincarnations of the Lincolns. When the novel opens, her main worries are how to prevent her father from being assassinated, her mother from going crazy (like Mary Todd Lincoln), and herself--a reincarnation of Willie Lincoln, or so she likes to imagine--from dying at age 12.

But when her dad, who owns Honest ABE's furniture store, begins taking her to civil rights marches led by Martin Luther King, their life begins to change in very real ways. Mina and her dad Al participate in protests designed to pressure the Chicago political establishment to support open housing--the abolition of housing segregation. When her dad meets Carla, a black activist at one of the meetings, they take Mina and Carla's son to pose as an interracial family at various real estate offices around Chicago, demonstrating the unspoken but very real restrictions that existed. Mina's father is exhilarated by his experiences, and is so concerned with oppressing blacks that he fires their cleaning lady--"I don't want to oppress you anymore," he says, completely oblivious to the fact that the woman needs the income to pay her rent. "You need a job that doesn't subjugate you," he tells her, convinced he has done the right thing.

But when Al brings his battle for civil rights to Downers Grove, bringing Carla's son to live with them for the summer and holding meetings for the Chicago Freedom Movement in his furniture store, it splits the family apart. Will Mina's family survive to create a better future for themselves and their community?
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Mary Katherine Bush on October 29, 2011
Format: Hardcover
This book was great! It's quite humorous and captures the innocence and creativity of a preteen girl. It's insight on the civil rights movement was both touching and liberating. I love this book and I would recommend it to anyone who believes in social justice or who just wants something they won't be able to put down!
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Format: Hardcover
My Life with the Lincolns is a story that will sweep you away, whatever your age. The protagonist, Mina, is crafted with such innocence and wisdom, that you can't help but believe her when you learn she's convinced her family is the reincarnation of the Lincolns. Brandeis weaves her story against the backdrop of one of America's most tumultuous times, the Civil Rights movements of the 1960s. Of course, one need only open the papers today to see that this issue is anything but obsolete, unfortunately. Civil rights, human rights -- these issues seem to be part of the complicated fabric of America. Thankfully, we have literature to provide a forum for conversation rather than shouting. Brandeis brings us into the world of the sixties, but she also brings us face to face with ourselves. Her narrative will ask you to examine your own beliefs. It will ask of you the age old question: Is the pen mightier than the sword? Indeed, for Mina, and for us as readers, we can answer with a resounding "yes". My Life with the Lincolns takes you back in time while also bringing to light the threads of injustice we still have in our society. This novel will give you hope. Highly recommended.
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