Panic

by Sharon M. Draper
ages: 13+
First sentence: “Hey, dance boy!”

I was looking forward to this one, mostly because I really enjoyed the other book I’ve read by Draper: Out of My Mind. I do have to admit that I knew very little about this one going in: I didn’t take the time to read the jacketflap and even though C pointed out to me that the categories were “kidnapping” and “sexual abuse”, I didn’t think much of it as I opened it up.

The story is of a troupe of teenage dancers. I didn’t get very far into the book, but it seems like there are a lot of issues there: bullying for the one lone male dancer (because it’s so not macho to dance); some kind of dating issue for one of the girls and her boyfriend; general issues of jealousy of other dancers’ abilities. But the panic starts when 15-year-old Diamond, a dancer in the troupe, is kidnapped.

I’ll pause for a moment here: I know Diamond is a victim here, and that the man who kidnapped her (and eventually raped her, multiple times, filming it for the internet — yes I did skim most of the book) is a warped, horrible, evil human being who should be castrated. But that said: what kind of idiot gets suckered in by promises of movie auditions and actually GETS INTO A CAR WITH A STRANGE ADULT MALE AND LEAVES THE MALL WITH HIM??????

Please, please, please let my daughters never be this stupid.

One of my DNF hot buttons is kidnapping of children — though if it’s straight up kidnapping, I might let it play out for a bit, just to see where the author is headed, and I did on this one. Until Diamond woke up from being drugged naked. And then the kidnapper walked into the room with his cameramen and started undressing. The one thing that hits way too close to my anxiety about my children is rape and sexual abuse. I cannot, under any circumstances, read about this. Especially of a 15-year-old girl. Can. Not.

So, as much as I love Draper, she wrote about something I can’t read. Which makes me sad, but that’s the way things roll sometimes.

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6 thoughts on “Panic

  1. unfortunately there are enough “idiots” that make this nearly a typical scenario for girls (and sometimes guys) who are lured into an evil situation. some I think function from desperation, but others from not really thinking it through or ignoring their gut… gives me shivers.

    I am very much with you, I can hardly tolerate the non-fictional accounts, I do not want to spend any time on the fictional. maybe a young person'll read this and become alert?

    I haven't read any of Draper's work, but I shall look up the previous book mentioned…

    ~L (omphaloskepsis)

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  2. Definitely not for middle grade. Have to admit that I threw this at the first high school teacher I could find, just to get it out of my possession. And yes, I had an immediate conversation with teen daughters about Stranger Danger. Too intense for me as well.

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  3. As horrifying as the content matter is–the sad thing is that we NEED books like this. There are girls out there who don't really understand the dangers of the world. They might not have mothers or adults in their lives who have taught them these things. Reading books like PANIC could be eye-opening and life-saving for them.
    As adults we must challenge our children to read stories that make us uncomfortable because they open the door for conversations. Anyone who reads or has a daughter who reads PANIC should sit down with her and talk about how to be aware of your surroundings, and what to do if she every finds herself in this situation.

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  4. I agree, Sarah-Ann. And I also agree that it's horrible that there is this need. I don't want to imply that I don't think this book shouldn't exist. I do! But like Jen and Karen, I don't have the stomach for it.

    Oh, and my girls DEFINITELY got a lecture. In fact, they said, “Okay, Mom, what did you read now??”

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