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My Life with the Lincolns
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My Life with the Lincolns

3.17  ·  Rating details ·  231 ratings  ·  60 reviews

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 incar

Hardcover, 248 pages
Published March 16th 2010 by St. Martin's Press (first published 2010)
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3.17  · 
Rating details
 ·  231 ratings  ·  60 reviews

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Oct 26, 2010 rated it did not like it
Shelves: hopefuls
Seriously, this book is just stupid! Mina believes that her whole family has been reincarnated, they were once the Lincolns. Beyond the stupid concept you don't get through the first 30 pages before both "nipples" and "vagina" have been mentioned, REALLY! was that necessary! I got nothing for this one.
Heather Cato
However long it took me to read this --- is time that I will never get back! :-/ While I absolutly LOVED the main story line about the civil rights movement, there was little else that I did like. I felt like it was a pointless read. Not to mention, there are several references that may make a younger reader uncomfortable.
Feb 08, 2011 rated it did not like it
Great reviews but did no one else find this book to be depressing and off the mark. So many better civil rights books are available.
Jul 15, 2010 rated it liked it
My Life with the Lincolns by Gayle Brandeis (Goodreads Author)

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 m
Lucy Hannigan
Jun 30, 2012 rated it liked it
This book is juvenile fiction which makes for a quick read. When I took my son to the library last week, I saw it on a display shelf and because of my renewed interest in good old Abe (thanks to "Abraham Lincoln, Vampire Hunter"), I picked it up. Last night I was in the mood for light reading so I started reading and I finished it this afternoon.

The setting in Illinois in the late 1960s--Martin Luther King had just moved to Chicago and was working to make changes in the housing situation for bla
May 11, 2017 rated it really liked it
All the people out there who do not understand the marches or that do not understand the current movement need to read this book. Such a great look at history from a totally different lens.
Kristi Bell
Aug 31, 2017 rated it it was ok
Not sure what to say about this made me feel uncomfortable in a lot of places. First of all, Mina feels sure that her family is the reincarnated family of Abraham Lincoln. Her dad owns a furniture store and wants to march with every demonstration that comes his way. He does teach Mina (I think) the importance of standing up for what you believe. Second, there are just some words and other things that make me feel uncomfortable....her little sister mistakes the word "angina" for "vagina ...more
May 04, 2019 rated it really liked it
An odd but interesting read. Mina, one of three children, goes with her father to hear Martin Luther King Jr. speak. They become involved with a group of activists who are sending adults pretending to be mixed race couples to see if local businesses are being discriminatory in their practices. Mina believes her family to be the reincarnated family of Abraham Lincoln, who helped free the slaves. With an older sister going off to nursing school, riots that land their car in a lagoon, and a furnitu ...more
Tisha (IG: Bluestocking629)
Oh I don't know where to begin.

Do I begin with the fact that I feel I was had and the book was nothing like I thought it would be?

Or do I begin with the annoying fact the book ended very abruptly [much like the Beatles song I Want You (She's So Heavy)].

Or the fact it just feels lacking. Beginning middle and end.

I know the book is for ages 10 and up... but I can't imagine a 10-year-old enjoying the in your face history lesson or the storyline concerning the parents.

I am a huge fan of Abraham L
{LaughingManiacally  ∆ ShootingLasers}
The protagonist of this book is a delusional hypochondriac. In a cute way, as long as she gets over it.

I do not know how to feel about this book, but it has so many parallels with today's fights for racial equality. It has white people patting themselves on the back for wokeness. It has black people who hate white people. It has thorny vocabulary preferences and calling out problematic behavior. And it addresses how weird and awkward it is to try to help, but be in the way. The price one pays to
Feb 28, 2019 rated it it was ok
As a 30+ year old man, the storyline of the civil rights movement was intriguing, and the creativity in bringing the past (1800's) to the present (1966) was interesting. However, I was not impressed with the continued references to the "coming of age" storyline. I should have read the fine print that this was for teenage girls...
It was a quick read and I only finished it because I started it. Not at all what I expected.
Margo Tanenbaum
May 31, 2010 rated it really liked it
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 dy ...more
Aug 26, 2010 rated it it was ok
My initial prediction was correct - this book did suck. However, there were some very redeeming parts, so 2 stars is a good rating.

This book was about a girl who is convinced that her family is the reincarnations of Abraham Lincoln and his family. I am convinced that this girl needs mental help. She seriously thought this for every page of the book - and believe you me, it was hard to forget this tidbit.

This girl was a crazy hypochondriac... that got old fast. Additionally, as she was "blossomin
Erin Reilly-Sanders
Aug 06, 2010 rated it really liked it
This book really packed a lot in, in both a positive and negative way. I really loved reading about female roles in the 1960's in this personal way. It was really interesting to look at the female characters and see the range of their possibilities. The mother presents a pretty typical upper middle class wife with a little more gumption than normal (usually a necessity to make historical fiction more palatable to today's feminists). I wish Carla's background had been expanded, since the story ne ...more
Mar 29, 2010 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: grades 6 and up
Recommended to Sarah by: sh
In the year 1966 in Downers Grove, Illinois, Mina is convinced that she and her family are the Lincoln family members reincarnated; her father’s initials even spell ABE! She believes, almost to the point of obsession, that she is Lincoln’s reincarnated son Willie, that her mother is Lincoln’s wife, and that her siblings are Lincoln’s other sons. When her father’s interest in the Civil Rights movement grows and he starts attending meetings in Chicago (and sometimes he brings her along), Mina is s ...more
Ms. Yingling
Jan 30, 2012 rated it it was ok
Mina has a good life in Downer’s Grove, Illinois in 1966. Her parents run Honest ABE’s furniture store, and she and her two sisters attend a nice school, but Mina is convinces that her family all are members of Lincoln’s family reincarnated, and this gives her some worries. She doesn’t want to die (she’s Will), doesn’t want her mother to go crazy, and doesn’t want her father to be shot. There’s not much chance of that at the beginning, but as her father becomes more involved in the Civil Rights ...more
Feb 20, 2013 rated it liked it
Shelves: juvenile-fiction
The basic premise of the book was intriguing. Mina Edelman has become convinced that her entire family was reincarnated from Abraham Lincoln, his wife and children. The number of family members doesn't match up until a revelation comes up halfway through the book, but enough details do that it's kind of a fun premise. Some of it didn't pay off well or consistently. For instance, a kid obsessed enough with health, disease and medicine to be able to flash-diagnose strep throat would seem likely to ...more
Mina Edelman believes that she and her family have been reincarnated from the lives of Abraham Lincoln and his family, thus, she is always drawing comparisons between the two. Mina has always lived a relatively comfortable life in the Chicago suburbs with her parents and older sister. Her father owns a furniture store, naturally named Honest Abe’s, and Mina writes a newsletter for it filled with factoids about Lincoln and his family. However, in the summer of 1966, Mina’s idyllic life changes wh ...more
Dec 20, 2014 rated it really liked it
As an activist who has had her 11 year old daughter along on a [less, but still controversial] protest or two, this was a particularly interesting read for me. The pros and cons of parents engaging their kids in protesting are well illustrated. Equally portrayed are the tensions between wanting to be an ally for a cause outside your demographic and the missteps that are inevitably made when learning about someone else's voice (in this story, a white ally to the Chicago Freedom Movement). Concret ...more
Christine Crawford
Mar 25, 2010 rated it really liked it
I liked this book, I think because I became quite attached to the main character. She is twelve years old and believes her family are the Lincolns reincarnated - in a way that only an innocent 12 year old could. But, she has a lot of growing up to do in this story. There is a lot covered here. It takes place during the 60's and deals with the Lincoln legacy, civil rights, interracial relations, MLK, divorce, puberty and so much more. It could certainly be tied into a number of subjects if used f ...more
Mar 18, 2010 rated it it was amazing
A lovely book (written for older elementary/middle school readers but completely fun for adults) about a young girl growing up in my hometown of Downers Grove,Illinois. It is the summer that Martin Luther King, Jr. moves into an apartment in Chicago, the summer that the neighbor boy's father is injured in Viet Nam, the summer that 12-year-old Mina believes her family is the Lincoln family reincarnated.

Brandeis gives Mina a quirky and very real voice, especially as her imagination takes off afte
Jun 25, 2010 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: Everyone. It's the kind of story that is just good fun reading.
Recommended to Richard by: I saw a copy at work.
Good description of life in Downers Grove, IL in 1966 as told from the point of view of a 12 year old girl. She has discovered her family is the reincarnation of Abraham Lincoln's and she, in particular, is Willie (William) who died at an early age.

Most of the sites Ms. Brandeis mentioned, such as The Tivoli Theater and Busy Bee Bakery are still here. Many are gone; The Last Word restaurant, Bob's Big Boy. The lumber yard was closed a while back and is still for sale.

This is a hilarious account
Chelsea Couillard-Smith
I really enjoyed the quirky characters in this book, and the unique plot. A girl growing up in 1960's Chicago suburb is obsessed with the Lincoln family and believes her family is the Lincoln's reincarnated. At the same time, her Jewish father starts getting involved in race protests in Chicago and taking her along on marches and prayer vigils. However, I was frustrated by the way the Lincoln obsession played out, popping up in weird places and creating convenient drama out of nowhere. Additiona ...more
Cara Ball
My rating is more of 3.5 star. I thought it had an interesting twist. Historical fiction with historical fiction embedded in the story.

1966 suburban tween becomes involved in the civil rights movement with her father. Tween ALSO believes her family is the reincarnation of the Lincoln family (of the President Lincoln Lincolns) and she ties the Lincoln past into her present, 1966 life. Lots of history!

On top of the very interesting civil rights movement (touches on whites IN the movement and how s
Apr 15, 2016 rated it it was ok
While I enjoyed learning about the Chicago Freedom through the eyes of a 12 year old, I just could not get into this book. It just had too much going on. It was as if the author had wanted to write three books but her publisher would only pay for one, so she forced all three stories into one book. They didn't fit and were, at times, distracting. The other think that kept me from liking this book was the father's sudden about face. He just all of a sudden decides to join the freedom movement. It ...more
The main character, Mina, was, by far, the best part of this book. I loved her innocent and youthful perspective on the many serious events in her life. The rest of the book was just okay. There was too much going on. I loved all of Mina's comparisons to the Lincolns, and I thought it wove together nicely with Martin Luther King and the civil rights movement, but then there was the Vietnam War, her parents' many issues, her sister--it just got to be too much. It was hard to know what to focus on ...more
V.R. Barkowski
Aug 08, 2010 rated it really liked it
This wasn’t on my reading list for March, but the premise so captured my imagination, I bumped it up. The story is set in the summer of 1966 amid Martin Luther King’s Chicago Freedom Movement and the Vietnam War. The narrator and protagonist, twelve-year-old Mina Edelman, is convinced her family is the reincarnation of the Lincolns (yes those Lincolns) and it is her duty to save them from their tragic fate. Mina’s voice is sure and compelling. Aimed at an MG audience, but a terrific read for adu ...more
Sep 20, 2014 rated it really liked it
A very surprising book. It starts off as a seemingly light tale of a girl growing up in 1960s Illinois who is convinced her family is the reincarnation of Abraham Lincoln and family. Fairly quickly, the tone turns darker as her father drags her along to civil rights protests and rallies, all the while lying to her mother about what they're up to. The somber tone continues through the end as his passion for equality--noble but not always properly expressed--sets her family on a course for some ve ...more
Jan 30, 2012 rated it really liked it
Shelves: childrens
It's the late 1960s in Downers Grove, Illinois, which in itself was interesting to read all the references to familiar places: Avery Coonley, the Tivoli, Ogden, the Morton Arboretum. Mina is convinced that she and her family are reincarnations of the Lincolns. She worries about protecting her father from being assassinated, her mother from going crazy (like Mary Todd Lincoln), and herself from dying at age 12 like Willie Lincoln. But when her dad, who owns Honest ABE's furniture store, begins ta ...more
Jun 26, 2011 rated it it was ok
So I will be sending this one off to the middle school in the fall.

The Civil Rights movement part of the story was well done (though I haven't gotten to One Crazy Summer yet and since that's the one that got the N.H. I really should!).

But there were a lot of references that seemed ... unnecessary. Other reviewers have mentioned some of them. I'm not going to elaborate on all of them here because I have a few friends who are kids. Just know ... this is a well done story. It is just not one I woul
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Gayle Brandeis is the author of Fruitflesh: Seeds of Inspiration for Women Who Write (HarperOne) and the novels The Book of Dead Birds (HarperCollins), which won the Bellwether Prize for Fiction of Social Engagement (judged by Toni Morrison, Maxine Hong Kingston, and contest founder Barbara Kingsolver), Self Storage (Ballantine), Delta Girls (Ballantine), and My Life with the Lincolns (Henry Holt) ...more