Gracie's Time by Christine Potter

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The Bean Books, 4

October, 1962
It's almost Halloween, but something a lot scarier than ghosts is on everyone's mind: nuclear war. After President Kennedy's speech to the nation about the Cuban Missile Crisis, Grace Ingraham overhears her parents' plans to keep her safe. She'll be sent off to live with a wealthy uncle—in the nineteenth century. 

Gracie's from a family of Travelers, people who can escape into time. Too bad her mom and dad haven't Traveled since their honeymoon trip to the Lincoln Inauguration. So Grace will have to go alone—even though taking a wrong turn can have serious consequences: like heading for 1890, and ending up …in 2018.
 
14+ due to adult situations

 

Excerpt:

I walked to Merrygrove Drive, where our neighborhood kind of gives up. The houses stopped maybe half a mile before there, and then there was a collapsed horse barn, overgrown with vines. At driveway of the abandoned Brown Estate, Mr. Mahoney was already waiting in his brand new Corvair. He jumped out, and ran around to the passenger side to get the door for me.

He was younger than my parents. His hair was jet black, in a crew cut. He wore a long V-neck sweater and dark colored pants and he smoked cherry blend tobacco in a pipe. It smelled so much better than my parents’ cigs! I thought Mr. Mahoney’s pipe was almost as cool as his car.

I got in. He’d been listening to the radio, but he turned it off right away.

“So, your very first journey tonight, Gracie!”

“Yeah,” I said. “And I happen to know you’re not coming with me.”

“You do, huh?”

“Yeah. I kind of eavesdropped.”

Mr. Mahoney chuckled. “You’re right. I’m just … launching you. You know, like an astronaut! Except you don’t even need a rocket ship! Did your parents tell you where you’re going yet?”

“They said you would. They haven’t been telling me much lately. I heard them talking about some uncle who owned a milk business in the 1890s in the City. Maybe they were afraid I’d say I wouldn’t go or something.”

Mr. Mahoney’s eyes looked sad despite his smile. “You figured it out! Smart girl. Don’t worry, Gracie. You’ll like the 1890s. Great clothes, very glamorous, and your uncle Augustus has piles and piles of money. Plus he’s a Master Traveler. Did they tell you that? Master Travelers can sort of—tune in, I guess is the best way to put it—on the rest of us. We’re heading for the train station, perfect place to start your first trip, always an easy lift-off down there. When you arrive in his time, Uncle Augustus will be waiting for you. Bet he’ll have a big bag of pretty dresses for you to wear so you’ll fit right in.”

“Mom says Traveling doesn’t feel strange or anything. She says once you decide where you’re headed, you just end up where you’re supposed to be, in the right time and everything.”

“That’s right.” We were passing Stormkill High. It was a brick building with big leaded glass windows. It looked like a fancy college in England, and I’d only gone there for a year. I felt like I should wave goodbye to it or something, but that seemed childish.

“Mr. Mahoney? Do you think there’s going to be nuclear war?”

“I can’t imagine. But I’ve never met anyone visiting our time from the future, if that’s what you mean. With this Cuba thing, it gets a man thinking…”

Is he saying there won’t BE a future? I felt cold inside.

“I’m scared,” I said, and it was true.

“Honey, this may not be for keeps. You’re just going somewhere really nice where you’ll be safe no matter what. Think about all the parties and fancy gowns. You’ll be the toast of Manhattan society!”

I’d seen pictures of ladies in Victorian ball dresses. They looked kind of tight around the waist to me.

We drove down to the station and parked by the river. A train from the City stopped and let a few people off. They got into their cars and drove away. When we were alone, Mr. Mahoney opened the trunk of his car and pulled out a little suitcase.

“Here,” he said. “Your mom wanted you to have this. She packed up a few things for you to remember us all by. She told me she didn’t have the heart to give it to you herself.”

I heard a snoring sound in the sky then, but it was only a plane. For a moment I thought about how terrible it would be if a nuclear war started right that minute, before I could escape to the past. Then I thought about Mom and Dad. I hoped they’d come get me from the 1890s if there weren’t a war. I didn’t want them to die. I didn’t want anyone to die. I really wanted there to be a future.

Mr. Mahoney and I walked past the train station and out onto the empty platform. He looked over his shoulder to be sure no one was around. “Are you ready?” He took my hands, squeezed them, and then he let go. “It’s the right time and place! Go on back, Gracie!”

At first, I thought nothing had happened, except then it wasn’t evening anymore. It was morning—and certainly not the 1890s. Nobody named Augustus introduced himself to me.

Dad always told me that if you get confused when you Travel, you should always look at what kind of lights there are in buildings and what clothing people have on to help place yourself. But what I saw only confused me more.

A freezing wind came off the river and cut right through my corduroy jacket. People in puffy grey and brown overcoats stood in clumps, staring at what I first thought were really tiny transistor radios. I learned that same day those things are called smart phones. I’d missed the 1890s by over a hundred years—and in the wrong direction.

A sleek, silvery train roared into the station from the north and everyone got on it but me. Bingo, the future! I’d just broken one of the biggest Rules there is.

 

Product Reviews

Score: 5 out of 5 (based on 7 ratings)
leave a review
5/5
Love it! Best Bean yet.
Written by R.M. Kelleher on 25th Oct 2019

Love it! Best Bean yet. Suspenseful, with a cast of adorable characters I want to hang around and eat pancakes with.

5/5
Great read!
Written by L on 25th Oct 2019

Gracie's Time will suck you in from the get-go! I was worried with it being the fourth book in the series, that I would feel lost jumping in the way I did, but rest assured - this book can be read as a standalone and you'll leave it wanting to dive right into books 1-3. When our main character Gracie is unintentionally sent FORWARD in the future instead of back to the 1800s as her "traveling" parents intended, you're treated to an insightful commentary on modern society. This book has a bit of everything - romance, suspense, fantasy, and the age old, good vs. evil - all packed in with a cast of characters you'll love and that will stick with you long after you've finished reading their story.

5/5
what a voice!
Written by drinking tea with mittens on on 25th Oct 2019

ok, i admit to loving all the bean books. christine potter's voice is something i'd follow anywhere and holy cow, in this bean book, i get taken for a marvelous ride. i flat out love the mix of history and music, culture and wisdom playing together in this book. enrichment. that's what it is. all the while, delivered on a platter of enticing plot and character development. you don't have to be a "young adult" to get hooked on these bean books. i have collected (and read) YA novels for decades now and am very happy to have this one to add to my collection.

5/5
Love Fear and Faith In the Then and Now
Written by T. Jones on 10th Sep 2019

Bean is back, but this time as a mentor and secondary character as new time Traveler Gracie, escaping the fearful state of the world in October of 1962, arrives unexpectedly in a world with a whole new set of things to be very afraid of--our time. She thought she was going somewhen else altogether, but happily she is a quick study and has the help of some good friends, some of whom (like the aforementioned Bean) will be familiar to readers of the earlier books. The story is rich in details of the 3+ times Gracie and company inhabit, full of good music, well-defined characters you'll be glad to know, and moves along at an exhilarating pace. I read it in two big bites and could imagine doing the whole thing non-stop. It is charming, funny and thought-provoking, even moving. And Gracie is a kick-ass new protagonist. Highly recommended to the young or (like me) formerly young alike.

5/5
Breaking All the Rules in the Best Possible Way
Written by Marcus Damanda on 6th Sep 2019

For any of you familiar with Christine Potter’s OTHER three books in the “Bean” series, get ready for something old, something new, and something wondrous out of the blue. Just when you’ve settled in and started to get comfortable (I’m thinking of my recovery from the end of Book 3, WHAT TIME IS IT THERE?), Potter redefines everything—and still manages to welcome you home to her world. First of all, it should be understood that you can read GRACIE’S TIME by itself. It works as a standalone novel, and it’s a genre-bender, and also perfectly suitable for both teens and adults. But if you do begin with this book, you really should go back to TIME GETS AWAY WITH HER and catch up after the fact. Might even be fun to do it in that order, after getting to know Bean and Zak as supplementary characters. Catching this as Book Four in the series, I have to admit it felt a little—oh, what’s the word?—oh, yes, “bizarre,” to see these characters I love so much on the proverbial sideline of someone else’s tale. But taking the journey with this writer I trust to deliver the goods in the end, I was not disappointed one bit. Gracie is a fairly typical young teenager in 1962 America—or she would be, if only she weren’t the only (for now) child of “traveling” parents. Of course, by “traveling,” I mean time-traveling—and what better time to exit than October of 1962, when the threat of nuclear war stopped being a threat and seemed to transform into an imminent promise? What traveling parents would not want to rescue their daughter from that apocalypse—and what better way to spare her from it than to send her nearly 100 years into the past until the course of the future was known? Ah, the best laid plans … Problem is, the one thing travelers CANNOT do—it’s SO against the rules—is bounce forward into the future. And so, that’s just what happens—seemingly by accident or mischance, and Gracie suddenly finds herself in our time (or near enough, in the year 2018), with no idea what an iPhone or an Android—or even the Beatles—are or were. Potter treats the reader, from that point, to a description of culture shock and a sense of abandonment that is so real and so harrowing that it can only be saved by … Amp, and Claire, and Zoey, and Bean, and Zak, and a cast of heroes and villains so fully defined and so wonderful and engaging, you can just swim in them all and forget a story’s being told here. Christine Potter does this a LOT, by the way. It’s her bread and butter as a writer. She can spend chapters getting you involved in the love of art, or music (this especially, really), or old rectories or abandoned buildings—so much so that you’re wholly unprepared for it when the story kicks in again. Usually, when that happens, the effect is to knock you out of your proverbial socks. I’m trying very hard not to be guilty of spoilers, here. The thing is, the story’s pretty amazing, too—and rich with surprises. It’s also dark with threat. Characters like Augustus and Jack (nope, not giving details) can make you alternately sick to your stomach or seethe with fury. But there’s one overriding force that permeates all of Potter’s work, from her stories to her poetry to her works under another name: Love. Also, her stories are funny. And real—all while being impossible. GRACIE’S TIME is a fantasy, a romance, a thriller, a deft and poignant exercise in nostalgia, a commentary on modern society, a celebration of the arts … but most of all it is very, very much worth reading. If you take my advice and give it a read, no need to thank me for pointing your way. You’re welcome in advance.

5/5
Another Exciting Adventure with our Time Traveling Teens
Written by Terence Minogue on 6th Sep 2019

This next, and best yet, installment in the Bean Series features Gracie, a high-school student. Gracie's story begins in Westchester County, New York, in October 1962. Her time traveling parents decide to send her away from the dangers of the Cuban Missile Crisis to a safer time...the 1800s. What could go wrong? This book has romance, adventure, danger, and good vs. evil, as Gracie's first attempts at time travel land her in both wonderful and terrible places. It's good fun and good fantasy told with humor and a bit of nostalgia. Enjoy!

5/5
Breaking All the Rules in the Best Possible Way
Written by Marcus Damanda on 2nd Sep 2019

For any of you familiar with Christine Potter’s OTHER three books in the “Bean” series, get ready for something old, something new, and something wondrous out of the blue. Just when you’ve settled in and started to get comfortable (I’m thinking of my recovery from the end of Book 3, WHAT TIME IS IT THERE?), Potter redefines everything—and still manages to welcome you home to her world. First of all, it should be understood that you can read GRACIE’S TIME by itself. It works as a standalone novel, and it’s a genre-bender, and also perfectly suitable for both teens and adults. But if you do begin with this book, you really should go back to TIME GETS AWAY WITH HER and catch up after the fact. Might even be fun to do it in that order, after getting to know Bean and Zak as supplementary characters. Catching this as Book Four in the series, I have to admit it felt a little—oh, what’s the word?—oh, yes, “bizarre,” to see these characters I love so much on the proverbial sideline of someone else’s tale. But taking the journey with this writer I trust to deliver the goods in the end, I was not disappointed one bit. Gracie is a fairly typical young teenager in 1962 America—or she would be, if only she weren’t the only (for now) child of “traveling” parents. Of course, by “traveling,” I mean time-traveling—and what better time to exit than October of 1962, when the threat of nuclear war stopped being a threat and seemed to transform into an imminent promise? What traveling parents would not want to rescue their daughter from that apocalypse—and what better way to spare her from it than to send her nearly 100 years into the past until the course of the future was known? Ah, the best laid plans … Problem is, the one thing travelers CANNOT do—it’s SO against the rules—is bounce forward into the future. And so, that’s just what happens—seemingly by accident or mischance, and Gracie suddenly finds herself in our time (or near enough, in the year 2018), with no idea what an iPhone or an Android—or even the Beatles—are or were. Potter treats the reader, from that point, to a description of culture shock and a sense of abandonment that is so real and so harrowing that it can only be saved by … Amp, and Claire, and Zoey, and Bean, and Zak, and a cast of heroes and villains so fully defined and so wonderful and engaging, you can just swim in them all and forget a story’s being told here. Christine Potter does this a LOT, by the way. It’s her bread and butter as a writer. She can spend chapters getting you involved in the love of art, or music (this especially, really), or old rectories or abandoned buildings—so much so that you’re wholly unprepared for it when the story kicks in again. Usually, when that happens, the effect is to knock you out of your proverbial socks. I’m trying very hard not to be guilty of spoilers, here. The thing is, the story’s pretty amazing, too—and rich with surprises. It’s also dark with threat. Characters like Augustus and Jack (nope, not giving details) can make you alternately sick to your stomach or seethe with fury. But there’s one overriding force that permeates all of Potter’s work, from her stories to her poetry to her works under another name: Love. Also, her stories are funny. And real—all while being impossible. GRACIE’S TIME is a fantasy, a romance, a thriller, a deft and poignant exercise in nostalgia, a commentary on modern society, a celebration of the arts … but most of all it is very, very much worth reading. If you take my advice and give it a read, no need to thank me for pointing your way. You’re welcome in advance.