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The Secret Life of Lincoln Jones

4.06  ·  Rating details ·  303 ratings  ·  79 reviews
Award-winning author Wendelin Van Draanen gives us a brilliantly 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 stal
Hardcover, 272 pages
Published October 25th 2016 by Knopf Books for Young Readers
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4.06  · 
Rating details
 ·  303 ratings  ·  79 reviews

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Kimberly (Book Swoon)
Nov 10, 2016 rated it really liked it
THE SECRET LIFE OF LINCOLN JONES is told through the humorous voice of an eleven-year-old Lincoln Jones, a boy who finds an escape from everyday life through his notebook where psychic vampires, wheelchair zombies, and a one-eyed cat fill the pages. Now, if he can only avoid his real life dilemma of a girl named Kandi Kain who is far too nosy, wanting to know what's in his notebooks and why he never talks to anyone.

Poignant, humorous, and with a gentle touch on themes such as bullying and demen
Quite The Novel Idea ~ Words from the Clouds

Well, this was utterly charming. That's the word that pops into my head when I think of this book. Charming. There is so much to love about this book but at the same time it didn't quite reach the heights I would've wanted it to. Because it definitely could have. But I still liked it lots and lots.

So before I go forth and list all the awesome things about this book, I'm going to have to be a negative nancy for a bit and tell you the things that I didn
Nov 15, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Never have I felt so polarized by a book but in such a good way. I have to say that Lincoln Jones's circumstances were so sad but yet his outlook on life made reading about his adventures so fun and entertaining. And it's been awhile since I was an eleven-year-old but I don't remember being as imaginative as Lincoln is throughout this story. So imaginative, that I seriously laughed out loud at some of his theories about life. One chapter is about "Zombie Chicken" and one chapter is about the "Va ...more
Jun 11, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Enjoyed other books by Van Draanen but really enjoyed this one! Lincoln is a great narrator and tells his story with heart.
As the new kid in town, Lincoln is having a hard time making friends. He is being ignored at school and bullied on the bus. He and his mother have escaped an abusive relationship and it has been a long time since Lincoln has had friends. Meeting his mother at her work, a nursing home, after school everyday doesn't help. When Lincoln inadvertently ignores the popular girl, Ka
(More like 4.5) . . . The irony here is that I judged this book by its cover, and that is precisely what the novel is about: forming decisions based on the stories people want you to know, rather than the stories that are true. I loved Lincoln and his voice as a narrator; I felt like I knew him, and I definitely have known kids like him. While reading, I was constantly reminded of the quote attributed to Shakespeare, "be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle." As far as YA goes, ...more
Nov 23, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This review originally appeared on my blog,


I’m always intrigued by books about kids who write stories. I started writing when I was a kid, so I usually feel a bit of kinship with the characters. I want to know why they write, what sort of stories they create.

In THE SECRET LIFE OF LINCOLN JONES, Lincoln’s notebooks of stories are the only sentimental thing he took with him when he and his mom escaped her abusive boyfriend. In their new home, Lincoln continues to write as a way to e
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Debbie Ohi
Oct 25, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: mg-middle-grade
I recently read THE SECRET LIFE OF LINCOLN JONES by Wendelin Van Draanen (Knopf Books For Young Readers) and thoroughly enjoyed it. The narrator is 11-year-old Lincoln, who keeps secrets in his notebook. His voice is fresh, funny and I love how he sees the world.

One of his secrets: In the afternoons, Lincoln hangs out at Brookside, a home for people with memory loss and dementia where his mother works. Something else I loved about this story: how Lincoln's observations about his mom and "the cr
Caradith Craven
Feb 23, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Wendelin Van Draanen's latest novel will capture the reader's heart from the hilarious first page to the poignant final chapter. The story of Lincoln Jones and his struggle to understand and cope with the difficulties of his everyday life is beautifully told in this first-person narrative.

Lincoln Jones's secret life centers around the world of the residents at the Brookside Memory Care facility where he goes every day after school to hang out and do his homework until his 'ma' gets off work. Li
Heather Brown
Lincoln Jones escapes into the amazing stories that he writes - ninja pirate cats, superheroes saving the day, the clang of a cell door imprisoning the bad guys - but in real life Lincoln just hides. He has avoided making friends in school, but hasn't avoided making enemies on the school bus. School starts to change for Lincoln when popular girl Kandi takes an interest in him. She tries her hardest to make Lincoln have friends, but everything she does seems to make things worse, at least at firs ...more
Aug 09, 2016 rated it really liked it
(3.5 Stars)

Starting in a new school is tough, especially when you don't want to share the details of your life. Lincoln and his mother have managed to escape his mother's abusive boyfriend and are starting over in the north. Lincoln feels like he doesn't fit in at all, with his Southern accent, his Southern manners, and especially because he has to spend every afternoon at the eldercare facility where his mother works. Lincoln prefers to live in the fantasy world of the stories he writes. As the
Oct 28, 2016 rated it really liked it
How can anyone not fall in love with Lincoln Jones? Lovers of fine books will recognize elements of themselves in him -- curious, imaginative, compassionate. This is my first book from Wendelin Van Draanen and I am sooo impressed by the singular narration unique to Lincoln Jones. Her writing felt like it was written in the past (mainly because Lincoln's Southern drawl felt very retro) but it was set in modern day, which makes me think this could be a timeless classic. (I haven't read a voice as ...more
Dec 03, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Loved this story. A great introduction to parts of the world that many children don't experience. A good Thanksgiving story. A good one to read as a family to talk about Alzheimer's, death, and growing up. Even though these topics are part of the story it is not the focus and the journey of Lincoln's is a touching and comedic one. I will definitely be reading this to my children when they are in fourth grade.
Ms. St. Jean
(Goodreads blurb)

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. . . .

Feb 01, 2017 rated it really liked it
I wish this book had gotten more notice last year. It's sweet and sad and hopeful all at once. Parts of it reminded me of Dead End in Norvelt, but less extreme. Recommended for 5th/6th grades
Hoover Public Library Kids and Teens
For anyone who has secrets they believe would never be understood.
Jan 18, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: j-boy, j-contemporary
I have been charmed by the Sammy Keyes books so I was curious to see how she can capture the viewpoint of a boy. I've never been an 11 year old boy but I've experienced plenty of cringe worthy moments and dealt with the ups and downs of public school so I think this is a fairly accurate portrayal of what a child in his tough circumstances might go through. But I always love a book that can make me laugh and this opening paragraph really grabbed me:

Ruby Hobbs came out of her room, dancing and si
LitPick Book Reviews
Jun 29, 2018 rated it it was amazing
In The Secret Life Of Lincoln Jones, eleven-year-old Lincoln, a shy and reserved loner, has to move away with his mother to a worn-down apartment with little money. Lincoln’s mother works in an “old folks’ home,” as he likes to call it. He has to go there every day after school, and the days just seem to drag on forever. Things just never seem to go right for him, not to mention the bullies on the bus and his new school stalker…Kandi Kain.

When these things happen though, Lincoln merely escapes f
Lori Lim
Mar 19, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Such a fabulous story by a truly gifted author. Wendelin has given us another touching story from which we can learn and grow. A lovely book about the secrets we all have and how you don't really know anyone's true story until you actually talk to them and get to know them. It also touches on taking care of others and the relationships we form. Although the premise for why Lincoln and his mother are now in the situation they find themselves is sad, the way they have picked themselves up and chos ...more
Alexa Hamilton
Nov 28, 2016 rated it liked it
Shelves: ebook, tween
Lincoln Jones is an introspective kid who loves to write to get away from what's actually happening in his life. Fortunately, he and his mother have escaped a pretty bad situation, but that doesn't mean their current situation is easy. Lincoln is stuck spending every afternoon with his mom at work, in the dementia ward of a nursing home where she is a caregiver. You can imagine how this goes, though all of the "oldies" as Lincoln calls them have distinct enough quirks and even a little personali ...more
This book was fantastic. I adored Lincoln's voice, and seeing the world through an 11 year old's eyes was refreshing. I especially loved the scenes with the 'oldies', the people in the nursing home for Alzheimer's patients, where he has to go nearly every day since his mom works there. I thought the relationship between Lincoln and his mom was so strong and thoughtful and caring.

Every book I have read by this author, I have loved with every fiber of my being.
Jun 17, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I absolutely loved this!! Wendelin is so good at capturing the voice of young people, shaping them and empowering them. Lincoln is such a great character and I hope to read more books about him!!! This book made me laugh and tear up in all the right places
Jan 29, 2017 rated it it was amazing
The Secret Life of Lincoln Jones. There is no words to describe how into I was into this book. Really, I was up in the night for over an hour just to continue reading this book. If you want a book with, death, cats, old people or lucky charms, then this is the book for you!
Sep 12, 2016 added it
Shelves: read-in-2016
A moving, character-driven novel with an endearing main character and fully drawn secondary characters. It's hilarious in some moments and heartbreaking in others. A really lovely read!
Pop Bop
May 04, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: reviewed
"Bravery...[is]...Facing Off With the Truth"

Lots going on here, and it's all good. On one hand we have the first person tale of Lincoln Jones, a funny, observant, generous, and big-hearted eleven year old who's dealing with problems way beyond his full understanding. On the other hand we have the related tales of dozens of people who fall within Lincoln's orbit and who each have their moment on the page as Lincoln watches them and wonders. Then we have a powerful underlying message that forms a
Sep 24, 2018 added it
Shelves: 2018
The Secret Life of Lincoln Jones EW! 
We read this for book club back in March and the author came to our book discussion. About half the attendees were white. Lincoln Jones' race came up and Van Draanen said she purposely kept everything (location, everyone's race, etc) vague so the book could be read as people want. It's like she wanted brownie points for writing a black kid without the potential of backlash for doing it poorly. 
Of course, all the white people went on and on about how great t
Cindy Mitchell *Kiss the Book*
Van Draanen, Wendelin The Secret Life of Lincoln Jones, 262 pgs. Alfred A. Knopf, 2016. $16.99 Content: Language: G; Violence: PG-13; Mature Content: PG.

Lincoln and his mother had to flee their old town because of an abusive boyfriend. He is in a new school and his Southern accent is getting him attention and although the girls find it cute, the boys bully him about it. Lincoln also spends his days after school at his mom’s work, a home for those with Alzheimer’s and dementia. When a girl named
Maria Antonia
Mar 22, 2017 rated it really liked it
Basic plot: Lincoln Jones is the “new kid” and that makes him a bit of a loner and outcast at school. What makes it worse is that he spends his after-school hours at an old folks home. He tries to hide this from his peers, but one particular girl won’t leave him alone before she finds out his secret life.

1) I like the kid’s voice. He’s interesting. I felt I’ve met him. I also was drawn to his relationship with his mom.

2) I like books that bring the generations together… Where young k
The Secret Life of Lincoln Jones is the newest addition from one of my favorite authors:  Wendelin Van Draanen.  Lincoln is 11 years old.  He and his mother have fled their home and his mother's abusive boyfriend.  Lincoln now finds himself in a school where his southern accent and mannerisms often make him a target for teasing.  His mother works as a nursing aide in a nursing home and Lincoln is required to spend his afternoons there, as he is not yet old enough to be home alone.  Lincoln also ...more
Sep 21, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: middle-grade
Award-winning author Wendelin Van Draanen gives us a brilliantly 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 notebo
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Wendelin Van Draanen has written more than thirty novels for young readers and teens. She is the author of the 18-book Edgar-winning Sammy Keyes series, and wrote Flipped which was named a Top 100 Children’s Novel for the 21st Century by SLJ, and became a Warner Brothers feature film with Rob Reiner directing. Her novel The Running Dream was awarded ALA’s Schneider Family Award for its portrayal o ...more