As long as she can remember, twelve-year-old Anna has lived in the same Upper West Side apartment with her parents and genius brother Tom; she's attended the same close-knit private school and had the same best friend, Katie.
But then something changes. Katie's brother, who's severely mentally challenged, gets violent with her mother, and now he's going to have to live in a home, away from everything he knows. Suddenly Katie is angry with Anna, and just as quickly they're not friends anymore.
Anna's mom tells her that Katie just needs someone to be mad at right now, and that everything will be okay, but Anna knows that everything is changing. Against her will, Anna has entered The Goodbye Time—and things are changing faster than she can understand.
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CELESTE CONWAY is a writer, an artist, and a lifelong devotee of ballet. She is the author of the picture book Where Is Papa Now? She currently resides in New York City.Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.:
Kendra was talking about the dress again. The one she had gotten for fifth-grade graduation which came from France, according to her, and was made of something called white "pee-kay." We'd heard about it at least fifty times. But I guess she needed to tell us again. Then Nancy Palmer started in on her dress. The dress she was going to get, that is, at some showroom that her mother knew where designers sold their latest stuff.
"Your mom knows designers?" Kendra said, flipping back her smooth black hair.
Nancy nodded. "Lots of them."
"Wow, you're lucky. I bet you can get your dress half price."
That was when my best friend, Katy, gave me a signal with her eyes and I knew we were going to leave them all--all our friends walking down the hall at school on a Friday afternoon in May. We were right at the place where the kindergarten artwork hung--potato prints and fingerpaints--and I looked at Katy and nodded. And just like that, we weren't there. Oh, our bodies were there, still a little sweaty from gym class, but we were gone, because now we were being someone else.
We did it almost all the time. We sort of couldn't stop ourselves, though sometimes I think we wanted to. We knew it was weird. Worse than weird--abnormal. And we'd both have just died if anyone had known. No one did. People would have worried. Even our families probably would have thought it was unhealthy.
The three o'clock schoolyard bustled with activity as we stepped outside. Nannies and moms were picking up kids, and our friends were going on and on about graduation dresses, but Katy and I were far away. We were in our own world, the one we went into by ourselves, pretending to be our characters. It was our favorite thing to do.
It had only been a few months ago, when I turned eleven, that my parents started letting me walk home from school alone. Up until then this high school girl, Miranda, who lives in my building, would get ten dollars for walking me two blocks from Seventy-eighth Street to Eightieth Street and another three blocks over to Riverside Drive, which is where I live in Manhattan, New York City. And actually, I'm still not allowed to walk home alone; I have to be with Katy.
Katy used to come home with me a lot: She lives uptown, and her apartment wasn't that great back then. I mean, it wasn't terrible, but she has a little brother, Sam, who has something wrong with him called profound intellectual and developmental disability, and he would make a mess, throwing things and sometimes doing certain stuff I wouldn't want to mention here. Also, she had to share a room with her older sister, who she called Bug Eye and who was very mean and was always telling us not to touch anything in her big fairy collection. Like anyone would want to fool around with her creepy fairy dolls. Bug Eye only cared about two things in life: fairies and soccer.
When we reached the corner of Broadway, everyone started splitting up. Kendra and Nancy headed south, while Tyesha went north and Yolanda east. Then, at last, Katy and I were by ourselves. As we walked toward my building near Riverside Park, we started to play for real--that's what we called it, playing, talking the way we did in our English accents.
The one person on this whole planet who would've understood our game and not thought we were crazy was my brother, Tom. Tom was fifteen and was going away to college at the end of the summer. My mom was both happy and sad about this. That was what she said: "I'm so happy and so sad," like a confused person. Tom is gifted in the brain department, but although he's a genius who has skipped a few grades, he's not snobby about how smart he is. Actually, he says it's a burden being brainy, like having a big rock tied to his head.
The reason I say Tom understood the thing Katy and I did is because when he was younger, he had this thing about Franklin Delano Roosevelt. Roosevelt was the thirty-second President of the United States, and Tom was just crazy about the guy. He read everything ever written about FDR's life and about his wife, Eleanor, and sometimes he'd go around pretending to be Franklin Delano Roosevelt. On his eighth birthday, when my mom took him to the bakery to pick out his cake, he made the lady write happy birthday, franklin on it. That's how crazy Tom was about him. And that's why I just think he would have gotten it and not made fun of us or told us we were weird.
When we got to my building, the doorman, Larry, said hi and gave me a huge envelope that hadn't fit in our mailbox. It was from Harvard University, the big famous college my brother was going to attend in the fall. They had probably sent some more papers for him to fill out.
When Katy and I first went into my apartment, we thought no one was home. But then we smelled grilled cheese, which was a sure sign that Tom was there.
"Do you think he'll make us some?" Katy asked in her English accent as we dropped our hundred-pound backpacks on the kitchen floor.
"Don't know," I said. "Uncle George is a bit of a lout these days." Uncle George, by the way, wasn't one of our regular characters. But sometimes when we were playing, we had to give other people parts. They, of course, didn't know, like Tom didn't know he was Uncle George as he came into the kitchen quietly in his big white socks. He was carrying a plate that still had half of a grilled cheese sandwich on it.
From the Hardcover edition.
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Book Description Random House Children's Books 2011-01-01, 2011. Paperback. Book Condition: New. Paperback. Publisher overstock, may contain remainder mark on edge. Bookseller Inventory # 9780440422334B
Book Description Yearling, 2011. Paperback. Book Condition: New. Bookseller Inventory # DADAX0440422337
Book Description Yearling, 2011. Paperback. Book Condition: New. Bookseller Inventory # P110440422337