The Secret Life of Lincoln Jones

5 CDs. 6 hrs. Listening Library. Oct. 2016. $35. ISBN 9781524721763. digital download.
Gr 4–7—Lincoln Jones and his Ma have relocated after fleeing her abusive, alcoholic boyfriend and their home in the south. That they've put the "whiskey time" behind them is not Lincoln's only secret. This sixth grader spends his afternoons at Brookside, a nursing home for dementia patients, where his Ma is a caregiver. Initially, he only sees the "crazies" at the home and continues to escape by filling notebooks with fictional stories. However, he begins to see beyond the residents' dementia symptoms and learns to appreciate their life stories. Van Draanen expertly weaves subplots that support the theme of facing truth, from Ma's interactions with a homeless man to the death of an older neighbor to bullying at school. The heavy topic of Alzheimer's disease is sensitively addressed and balanced with gentle humor. J.B. Adkins skillfully provides consistent voice variation while expertly bringing the story to life.
VERDICT A touching story of growth, friendship, and compassion.

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