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
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
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