Now is Not the Time to Panic
By: Kevin Wilson
Narrator: Ginnifer Goodwin
Publication Date: 11/08/2022
My Rating: 4 Stars (ARC)
A Most Anticipated Book of Fall from: Associated Press * Atlanta Journal-Constitution * Barnes & Noble * BookPage * Book Riot * The Boston Globe * Entertainment Weekly * Esquire * Garden & Gun * LitHub * St. Louis Post-Dispatch * Sunset Magazine * Time * Town & Country * The Millions * USA Today * Vogue * Vulture * The Week
An exuberant, bighearted novel about two teenage misfits who spectacularly collide one fateful summer, and the art they make that changes their lives forever
Sixteen-year-old Frankie Budge—aspiring writer, indifferent student, offbeat loner—is determined to make it through yet another summer in Coalfield, Tennessee, when she meets Zeke, a talented artist who has just moved into his grandmother’s house and who is as awkward as Frankie is. Romantic and creative sparks begin to fly, and when the two jointly make an unsigned poster, shot through with an enigmatic phrase, it becomes unforgettable to anyone who sees it. The edge is a shantytown filled with gold seekers. We are fugitives, and the law is skinny with hunger for us.
The posters begin appearing everywhere, and people wonder who is behind them and start to panic. Satanists, kidnappers—the rumors won’t stop, and soon the mystery has dangerous repercussions that spread far beyond the town.
Twenty years later, Frances Eleanor Budge gets a call that threatens to upend her carefully built life: a journalist named Mazzy Brower is writing a story about the Coalfield Panic of 1996. Might Frances know something about that?
A bold coming-of-age story, written with Kevin Wilson’s trademark wit and blazing prose, Now Is Not the Time to Panic is a nuanced exploration of young love, identity, and the power of art. It’s also about the secrets that haunt us—and, ultimately, what the truth will set free.
Kevin Wilson's latest—NOW IS NOT THE TIME TO PANIC is a beautifully written, engaging coming-of-age story of two hardworking, struggling kids, Frankie and Zeke, who, throughout a summer, make art and turns into so much more.
Based loosely on the author's experience with his author's note and dedication to his special friend.
Frankie and Zeke grew up in Coalfield, Tenn., in 1996 (pre-internet) and turned a summer art project (posters) into a national phenomenon. There is nothing to do in this town, so they get creative with an old copy machine.
Frankie is a young teen, age 16, and on her own during the day, her mom works, and her triplet brothers are off doing other things.
She meets the new nerdy, artsy boy, Zeke, from Memphis moves temporarily to live with his grandmother while his parents are going through a divorce. They are both sort of misfits and outsiders. They bond immediately and become special friends.
It was quite harmless. The slogan, "The edge is a shantytown filled with gold seekers, we are the new fugitives, and the law is skinny with hunger for us."
They even add a few drops of their blood.
However, as they passed out the posters all over town, people made up stories, and it became out of control with conspiracies. Even the police became involved. Some even thought Satan worshippers wrote those words.
As the book progresses to twenty years later, Frankie is married, a successful writer, a wife, and a mother. But its history stays buried and obscured until Frankie receives a call from an art critic writing an article for the New Yorker about the Coalfield Panic of 1996.
She must find Zeke to let him know. She finds him still doing artwork for comic books at his grandmother's house.
A tender, endearing, moving story about friendship, art, and memory—About what it means to hold on to the person we were, even as we become someone else. It's about how art is the door that lets us walk into a new life that never seemed possible.
Wilson has a knack for creating characters with sensitivity and compassion that seem real, despite their oddities. You come to care about Frankie and Zeke and remind us how a specific event or period can play such an essential part in our lives.
My Rating: 4 Stars
Pub Date: Nov 8, 2022
Nov 2022 Must-Read Books
“This is a wildly funny, wonderfully sincere — and a little bit devastating — story of art, our limitless past, future nostalgia and all those perfectly imperfect ways we continually come of age. Kevin Wilson’s books are so full of heart. They’re utterly indelible.”
— Courtney Summers, Washington Post
“Wilson has developed a story that is a precise capture of adolescence and of two vibrant teens whose everyday dilemmas, weaknesses, and triumphs are utterly endearing . . . Crisp dialog and [a] zipping story line.”
— Booklist (starred review)
“Full of compassion and gentle humor, this is a wise and winning novel about how youth haunts and defines us.”
"It’s the kind of book your cool English literature teacher would recommend when you showed an interest in writing, the type of coming-of-age story that would have been equally destined for a banned books list and a summer reading list."
“Kevin Wilson’s Now Is Not the Time to Panic (Ecco) has the feel of a long-gestating work: a novel about creativity and childhood that seems as though its author has been mulling it since his own youth. It bears the markers of Wilson’s style—cleverly cute without tipping over into saccharine territory….Though the book has an earnest heart, it’s colored by Wilson’s appealingly offbeat prose, so that even the most straightforward coming-of-age moments have a funky freshness.” — Vogue
“Kevin Wilson once again deploys his customary humorous, off-center storytelling to artfully delve into deeper matters…[his] deceptively transparent prose, with a touch of humor, a dash of satire and a good bit of insight, carries the reader to a humane and satisfying conclusion.”
— BookPage (starred review)
“[A] bighearted novel.”
— Vanity Fair
About the Author
Kevin Wilson is the New York Times bestselling author of the novels Nothing to See Here, which was a Read with Jenna book club selection; The Family Fang, which was adapted into an acclaimed film starring Nicole Kidman and Jason Bateman; and Perfect Little World; as well as the story collections Tunneling to the Center of the Earth, winner of the Shirley Jackson Award; and Baby, You’re Gonna Be Mine. His fiction has appeared in Ploughshares, Southern Review, One Story, A Public Space, and Best American Short Stories. He lives in Sewanee, Tennessee, with his wife and two sons. WEBSITE