Through the Looking Glass Children's Book Reviews

My brother Abe: Sally Lincoln’s Story

My brother Abe: Sally Lincoln’s Story

Harry Mazer
Historical Fiction
For ages 9 to 12
Simon and Schuster, 2009   ISBN: 1416938842

Sally Lincoln is not happy when her father announces that the family has to move away from their thriving Kentucky farm. Apparently he does not own their land and the owners want him to remove himself. And so Sally, her parents, and her brother Abraham leave Kentucky and walk to a piece of land in the wilderness in Indiana.

To say that their living conditions are rough is an understatement. The family sleeps in a very basic shelter while Mr. Lincoln clears the land and gets the logs that will be needed to raise their home. Sally helps her mother to cook, wash clothes, and to do many other chores. She is delighted when she finally has four stout walls around her again, but the Lincoln’s are not able to enjoy the new house for long before Mrs. Lincoln, Sally and Abe’s beloved mother, gets mortally ill.

Everything changes after the death of her mother, and Sally struggles to do all the many jobs her mother performed. She is determind to do everything that her mother would wish her to do, but Sally is still just a child and she still has a lot to learn.

For this remarkable book Harry Mazer gives his narrator, Sally, a wonderfully rich voice. Written in the vernacular of the times, Sally’s words give readers a vivid picture of what frontier life in Indiana was like in the early 1880’s. Readers who have read about Abraham Lincoln’s life will be interested to see what he was like as a boy and what his life was like as well. It is incredible to think that Lincoln – who was such a polished public speaker – had a father who could barely read, and that Lincoln came from a family that was so very poor.