The Dreadful Future of Blossom Culp by Richard Peck, 1983.
This book is part of the Blossom Culp Series.
It’s 1914, and Blossom Culp is just starting high school. Although the principal of her old school tells her that this is a chance for her to make a fresh start, it looks like Blossom’s future is going to be very much a continuation of her immediate past. In high school, she’s still a social outcast, looked down on by girls from better-off families, like Letty, the class president. Also, despite her principal’s assertion that Blossom’s previous forays into the occult were imaginary, the product of the mental confusion that accompanies puberty, and that she is bound to grow out of them, Blossom knows that her psychic abilities are a natural gift and will not be ignored.
Blossom begins high school friendless because Alexander Armsworth has been ignoring her lately because of his important new position as class vice-president, his infatuation with Letty, and his friendship with a couple of local hooligans, Bub and Champ. Alexander is looking forward to his role in planning the school’s Halloween Festival, telling Blossom that he’s over their earlier, childish occult escapades and the Halloween pranks he used to pull. Meanwhile, all of the other girls in school are infatuated with their handsome history teacher, Mr. Lacy, and so is the girls’ gym teacher, much to Blossom’s disgust. Blossom thinks that Mr. Lacy is full of himself and denies that she has any such silly crush on Alexander.
Blossom makes an unexpected friend in a girl called Daisy-Rae, a girl from the country who has brought her younger brother into town to attend school and hoped to get an education herself but has been too afraid of the big town to actually attend classes. Daisy-Rae hides in the school during the day and lives alone with her brother at night in the old chicken coop at the abandoned Leverette house. It is through Daisy-Rae that she learns that Alexander and his friends aren’t so above childish pranks as they claim to be. Blossom also discovers that Mr. Lacy has been romancing her old principal. Mr. Lacy isn’t quite what he appears to be and has some unsavory secrets in his past.
Matters come to a head when Alexander (at Letty’s urging) tries to persuade Blossom to dress up and become the fortune teller for the haunted house that the freshmen class is doing for the Halloween Festival. The haunted house is also a fundraiser, and Letty figures that they can get extra money from people if they’re willing to pay to have their fortunes told, and who would be better for the job than Blossom? However, Blossom isn’t one to go out of her way to please others, especially Letty, and it turns out that they’re holding the haunted house in the Old Leverette place. For some reason, that old house makes Blossom’s mother uneasy. She seems to think that it’s haunted, but in an unusual way. Blossom tells Alexander that she will not agree to be their fortune teller until he agrees to check out the house with her before Halloween and find out what’s wrong with it. She figures that, since both of them are psychic, they can learn what’s so unusual.
As Blossom learns, her abilities don’t confine themselves to the past and people who have died but extend to the future and the people who haven’t yet been born. Inside the Old Leverette house, Blossom suddenly finds herself entering the distant future, the 1980s. In the 1980s, the Leverette house is once again lived in, and Blossom meets a boy named Jeremy who is a lonely social outcast, like herself. Jeremy is a computer nerd, living with his divorced mother. He takes Blossom on a tour of their town as it is in Blossom’s future, much larger than it used to be and with many familiar landmarks missing. However, what Blossom sees in the future gives her the inspiration she needs to solve her problems in the past and hope that things will improve. In return, she also proves to Jeremy that he is far from alone and has had a friend for longer than he ever imagined.
The time travel to the 1980s comes off as being a little corny (or so it seemed to me), but the writing quality of the book is excellent. The author has an entertaining turn of phrase, and the book, like others in the series, is humorous and a lot of fun to read.
Besides being a kind of fantasy story, there are some interesting tidbits of history in the book, showing how people lived in the 1910s. Blossom explains about the things she and her classmates did at school, like wearing beanies on their heads to show which year they were (freshmen, future graduating class of 1918). At one point in the story, Blossom takes Daisy-Rae and her brother to their first movie, a silent film with an episode of The Perils of Pauline serial. While Blossom worries about the future, readers can get a glimpse of the past!
As for what Blossom learns about her own future, she avoids finding out too much because she’d rather not know the details. However, there are implications that she and Alexander may eventually marry and live in his family’s old house.
The book is currently available online through Internet Archive.