“Panic” by Sharon M. Draper


Sharon M. Draper, Author

Atheneum Books for Young Readers, YA Fiction, March 2013

Suitable for Ages: 14 -17

Themes:  Dance, Kidnapping,  Sexual Predators, Sexual Abuse, Teen Dating Abuse, African-American

Opening“Diamond knows not to talk to strangers.  But just once couldn’t hurt.  Right?”  (Jacket Flap)

Synopsis:  The Crystal Pointe Dance Academy is shaken when one of its members, 15-year-old Diamond, goes missing and no one can find her.  Diamond and her best friend, Mercedes, make a trip to the mall before a dance performance to purchase tights.  While Mercedes is looking around, Diamond heads to the food court to buy food so they won’t be late.  A well-dressed stranger approaches Diamond and asks for directions to the food court.  He tells Diamond that he’s supposed to meet his wife and daughter there.  Harmless, she thinks.  When Mercedes arrives minutes later, Diamond is gone.

Every other chapter is the voice of one of the main dancers, Diamond, Mercedes, Layla and Justin.  There are parallel stories told as Draper alternates between Diamond’s abduction, the emotional reaction of the high school dance troupe to the situation and the every day drama of their own personal lives.  There are some very important themes of relational and sexual abuse, teen dating abuse,  trust, and family issues woven into the story.  What holds the troupe together is their concern for Diamond and their love of music and dance.  My favorite scene in the book is when the dancers are with their instructor, Miss Ginger.  Each student selects a dance that fits their personality and expresses their own fear or desperation for Diamond  — a beautiful and powerfully moving cathartic release.

Why I like this story:  Sharon Draper has written a gripping and contemporary novel that is very real in today’s world.  It is a must read for teens.  Even though kids are taught at a young age not to talk to strangers,  abductions continue.  There is no tidy description for sexual predators.  But predators have one thing in common — the ability to artfully lure a child or teenager into a web of lies and manipulations that leads to kidnapping.  That is what Draper addresses in her skillfully crafted and suspenseful novel.  Draper handles Diamond’s abduction scene realistically but with sensitivity.   She also has a gift of getting into the minds of each character.  Panic is one book readers will have difficulty putting down because it is a page turner.  Hopefully teens will learn through Diamond the tragic results of taking risks with strangers.  Panic is an excellent book for school libraries.

Book Giveaway:  I will be giving away one copy of Panic during a random drawing on March 29.  All you have to do is leave a comment on this post and indicate whether you’d like to be included in the drawing.   I will announce the winner on Saturday, March 30.

Sharon Draper a New York Times best-selling author has also won the Coretta Scott King/John Steptoe Award for New Talent for Fears of a Tiger.  She won the Coretta Scott King Literary Award for her novels Copper Sun, and  Forged by Fire, and the Coretta Scott King Author Honor for The Battle of Jericho.  She also was selected as a National Teacher of the Year.  For more information about all the books she’s published, resources, activities, interviews and information on school visits, visit Draper’s website.  I’ve also reviewed Draper’s novels, Out of My MindCopper Sun and Double Dutch.

About Patricia Tiltonhttps://childrensbooksheal.wordpress.comI want "Children's Books Heal" to be a resource for parents, grandparents, teachers and school counselors. My goal is to share books on a wide range of topics that have a healing impact on children who are facing challenges in their lives. If you are looking for good books on grief, autism, visual and hearing impairments, special needs, diversity, bullying, military families and social justice issues, you've come to the right place. I also share books that encourage art, imagination and creativity. I am always searching for those special gems to share with you. If you have a suggestion, please let me know.

30 thoughts on ““Panic” by Sharon M. Draper

  1. This is a really good review. Sounds like an intriguing book about a very scary subject. I’m mostly into picture books, but I do know some teen girls who might like this one. I’ll have to tell them about it! Thanks!


    • Coleen, glad you liked the review. Yes, she does know how to tackle tough subjects. I would want a teen or young adult to read it, because even college students let their guard down. It is so hard to tell a predator in today’s world.


  2. This book is relevant to today’s world. It is one that should be read by every teen. I will recomment it to my teen grandchildren.


    • Michael, I think of a butterfly in terms of transformation. But, the butteryfly’s two wings are pinned so it can’t fly. Diamond was given some freedom and trust to go to the mall the day she was abducted. She lost that, as well as her youth and innocence was interrupted. It may also relate to all of the dancers who are growing through their own issues, not quite there yet. That is one question I will ask Sharon Draper.


    • Catherine, it is a must read for both teenagers and college students, who also let their guard down. There is no profile of an abductor, he/she could be someone you know. That’s why I ran the picture book Friday about “Scoopers” and “Panic” today. Thanks for stopping.


  3. There are few YA books on this topic, so I am so glad such a skilfull author as Sharon Draper has addressed it here. Interesting choice of multiple points of view.


  4. Wow! This sounds like a powerful story. It’s so true, that we start early and continue to teach and talk about stranger danger, but the problem still persists. ….talk about changing your life in a split second…. Ugh.

    Yes, I’d love to be included in the drawing!


    • Genevieve, I’m so pleased you liked this important story. It’s got to be an ongoing discussion between parent and child. The risk of adduction for teenagers is really high. One wrong decision can be devestating for all involved. Thanks for stopping.


  5. This sound like another ‘find’ Patricia. It is such an important subject. Personally, coming form a background in dance myself, I found the name of the dance school difficult…must be a cultural thing. Lol!


  6. Thanks so much for introducing me to this one Pat, I hadn’t seen it before. Wow, this book sounds like it tackles a lot of really tough subject matter but it also sounds like the author did a really good job handling it all. Great review!


  7. I just wanted to thank Sharon M. Draper
    Because I have gone though what Diamond went though and reading a book about it made e realize people really do care, yes it brought back some bad memorizes but it also helped a lot , Thanks so much Sharon M. Draper (love your books) 🙂


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