My Life with the Lincolns

( 2 )

Overview

My dad used to be Abraham Lincoln. When I was six and learning to read, I saw his initials were A. B. E., Albert Baruch Edelman. ABE. That's when I knew.

Mina Edelman believes that she and her family are the Lincolns reincarnated. Her main task for the next three months: to protect her father from assassination, her mother from insanity, and herself—Willie Lincoln incarnate—from death at age twelve.

Apart from that, the summer of 1966 ...

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My Life with the Lincolns

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Overview

My dad used to be Abraham Lincoln. When I was six and learning to read, I saw his initials were A. B. E., Albert Baruch Edelman. ABE. That's when I knew.

Mina Edelman believes that she and her family are the Lincolns reincarnated. Her main task for the next three months: to protect her father from assassination, her mother from insanity, and herself—Willie Lincoln incarnate—from death at age twelve.

Apart from that, the summer of 1966 should be like any other. But Mina’s dad begins taking Mina along to hear speeches by Martin Luther King, Jr in Chicago. And soon he brings the freedom movement to their own small town, with consequences for everyone.

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Editorial Reviews

Children's Literature - Jennifer Lehmann
It is 1966, and Mina Edelman believes her family is the Lincoln family, reincarnated. Her father's initials are A.B.E., and they live near Lincoln's hometown. Each of her family members matches with one of the Lincolns, in name and in personality. Unfortunately, that means Mina is likely to die before her next birthday, and her father needs to avoid being shot in the head. As the two get involved in the Chicago Freedom Movement, protesting against housing discrimination, Mina must try to protect her father from thrown rocks and angry crowds. Her own hypochondria, family tensions, and neighborhood brawls sometimes seem like more than she can bear. With the influence of Abraham Lincoln, Martin Luther King, Jr., and the pieces of Judaism she gleans from her father, she comes to a new understanding of equality and of herself. This plot-driven novel incorporates several storylines, each with their own intrigue. Other aspects of the story, however, do not get equal attention. The reincarnation idea could have used more build-up. As it is, it may relate to readers with a working knowledge of the belief, but it will be difficult for others to understand Mina's conclusions and the urgency of her worry. The supporting characters lack some development, and her father's noble actions are tainted by questionable intentions and behavior. However, the humor and plot do carry this novel which combines historical and realistic fiction. Reviewer: Jennifer Lehmann
School Library Journal
Gr 5–8—Mina, 12, believes that she and her family are reincarnations of Abraham Lincoln's family in Gayle Brandeis's debut novel (Holt, 2010) for children. After all, why else would she be so fascinated with the lives of the Lincoln family and why else are her father's initials A.B.E. (Albert Baruch Edelman)? The story takes place in 1966 in Downers Grove and Chicago, Illinois. Mina's father, a furniture store owner, is prompted by the prejudice against his Jewish heritage and becomes involved in the Civil Rights Movement and has Mina accompany him on marches and prayer vigils. Her mother, who thinks they are attending furniture store meetings, is angered when she discovers that he is taking their daughter into dangerous neighborhoods and situations. The Edelmans' marriage begins to disintegrate as Albert becomes more involved in the Movement, and befriends an African-American woman and her son. The story, which unfolds through Mina's eyes, presents the emotional impact of this era from both the white and black perspectives. Emily Janice Card provides exceptional narration. Her voice is perfect for Mina, and she gives each character a unique voice. An excellent choice for social studies classes studying the Civil Rights Movement.—Kathy Miller, Baldwin Junior High School, Baldwin City, KS
Publishers Weekly
In her first novel for children, adult author Brandeis entwines two historical periods through the voice of narrator Mina, who is convinced that her family members are the Lincolns reincarnated (“my three main tasks were: 1. Get through age 12 without dropping dead [like Lincoln’s son, Willie]. 2. Stop Mom from going crazy. 3. Stop Dad from getting shot in the skull”). Mina’s overexuberant father invites Mina along as he joins the civil rights movement in 1960s Chicago, and they are soon participating in marches and prayer vigils, while becoming increasingly involved with a black woman and her son. Brandeis doesn’t sidestep the brazen and discomforting inequality that existed, nor the often violent reactions to integration. She weaves in tidbits of Lincoln’s life, while subtly showing readers how history repeats itself (even as Mina works to avoid just that). Familial tension, heightened by disagreements over their involvement in “the movement,” leads to an emotional climax at—where else?—the Lincoln Memorial. This strong showing should leave readers with a trove of Lincoln trivia and gratitude for the contributions of civil rights pioneers. Ages 10–up. (Mar.)
Kirkus Reviews
Twelve-year-old Mina Edelman is convinced that her family is the reincarnation of Abraham Lincoln's. Her father has the same initials and also cares passionately about social justice, sneaking her off to hear Martin Luther King and participate in fair-housing protests in Chicago. But when he brings his idealism home to suburban Downers Grove, 1960s violence touches their own lives and divides her family. Brandeis has created an appealing, quirky protagonist, still childlike in her sensibilities and understanding. Convinced that she is going to die young, like her almost-namesake Willie Lincoln, she diagnoses the pain in her developing breasts as incipient heart failure. She worries that her mother will go crazy and her father will be assassinated. Middle-school readers will know better but enjoy this humorous first-person glimpse into her misconstrued world. Adults don't see so clearly, either. In her first novel for young readers, the author goes beyond usual stories of the civil-rights movement, demonstrating well-intentioned but tone-deaf gestures of white supporters and the discomfort of change. (Historical fiction. 10-14)
From the Publisher

“Brandeis has created an appealing, quirky protagonist, still childlike in her sensibilities and understanding. . . . In her first novel for young readers, the author goes beyond usual stories of the civil-rights movement, demonstrating well-intentioned but tone-deaf gestures of white supporters and the discomfort of change.”—Kirkus Reviews

“. . . the strong them of social justice creates a unifying thread in this informative, clear, personal, and passionate novel.”—Booklist

“This strong showing should leave readers with a trove of Lincoln trivia and gratitude for the contributions of civil rights pioneers.”—Publishers Weekly

A selection of the Read On Wisconsin! program 2010

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780805090130
  • Publisher: Henry Holt and Co. (BYR)
  • Publication date: 3/16/2010
  • Edition description: First Edition
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 248
  • Sales rank: 475,312
  • Age range: 10 - 14 Years
  • Lexile: 840L (what's this?)
  • Product dimensions: 5.80 (w) x 8.40 (h) x 1.00 (d)

Meet the Author

Gayle Brandeis is the author of two novels for adults, The Book of Dead Birds: a Novel and Self Storage. Her poetry, fiction, and essays have appeared in numerous magazines and anthologies, including Salon.com and The Nation. She teaches and lives in Riverside, California with her family.

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4.5
( 2 )
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Sort by: Showing all of 2 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted May 23, 2010

    I Also Recommend:

    Not Too Bad

    Barnes & Noble calls this book Young Adult. Another website says ages 10 and up. I don't know which I would agree with more, but as an eleven-year-old I walk the line between teen and independent reader, and I thought this was a good book. As you see in my I Also Recommend section, this book has the likable character voice of Lauren Myracle's Winnie Years books and the authentic history of Julia Golding's Cat Royal books. Mina Edelman, the main character, is so funny and realistic with a very distinct voice. In addition, My Life With the Lincolns taught me about both Abraham Lincoln and the Chicago Freedom Movement at once, seemingly an unusual combination that has perfect harmony. Mina's love and affection for her sister Tabby warmed my heart, as well as the fact that Mina writes a newsletter called the Lincoln Log (I am a writer myself). It gave me a good taste of life in 1966 too. I would recommend this to fans of historical fiction.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 10, 2010

    No text was provided for this review.

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