January 28, 2023

Save the Net Books

Blogazine on Books, Arts, and Music

The best books of this week

Now Is Not the Time to Panic by Kevin Wilson

An exuberant, big-hearted novel about two teenage misfits who spectacularly clash in one fateful summer, and the art they create that changes their lives forever

Sixteen-year-old Frankie Budge – aspiring writer, indifferent student, eccentric loner – is determined to survive another summer in Coalfield, Tennessee, when she meets Zeke, a talented artist who has just moved into his grandmother’s house and is like himself awkward feels like Frankie is. Romantic and creative sparks begin to fly, and when the two create an unsigned poster together, imbued with an enigmatic phrase, it becomes unforgettable for everyone who sees it: “The Edge is a shantytown full of prospectors. We are refugees and the law is lean with hunger for us.”

The posters are popping up everywhere and people are wondering who is behind them and panicking. Satanists, kidnappers – the rumors don’t stop and soon the mystery has dangerous effects that spread far beyond the city.

Twenty years later, Frances Eleanor Budge gets a phone call that threatens to turn her carefully constructed life upside down: a journalist named Mazzy Brower is writing a story about the 1996 Coalfield Panic. Could Frances know anything about it?

Now Is Not the Time to Panic is a bold coming-of-age tale written with Kevin Wilson’s signature wit and flaming prose. It is a nuanced exploration of young love, identity and the power of art. It’s also about the mysteries that haunt us – and ultimately what the truth will release.

Reasons to read it: This coming-of-age, turn-of-age tale has such well-written characters and subverts stereotypes of artsy, anti-establishment teenagers. Instead, it offers an endearing and understated take on the power of art with a little youthful angst.