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Now Is Not the Time to Panic: A Novel (Hardcover)

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Staff Reviews

Having myself been a teenager in a small insular southern town that felt a few years behind the times, Kevin Wilson's protagonist Frankie felt familiar. Now is Not the Time to Panic uncovers the mystery of a moral panic that starts small but becomes a world-famous cultural event. Frankie's dad has left, her triplet brothers are a whirlwind, and Frankie wants something (anything) to happen this summer. Making friends with a new kid in town who also has a father issue is life-changing as they recognize themselves in each other: friendless socially awkward creatives who are desperate just to be seen. This is a story with a great big heart that will not disappoint.

— Rachel Watkins

Set in the '90s, NOW IS NOT THE TIME TO PANIC tells the off-beat story of how two bored teens spend their summer making and sharing art that instigates a craze that sweeps their small Tennessee town. Kevin Wilson captures that feeling of possibility that the stretch of summer between school years brings, of wanting to change the world--or at least your own life--through art, and questions what responsibility does an artist have when all of it goes wrong. And beyond: what do you do when you turn out to be a relatively normal adult with this transformative summer still haunting you? Silly and sincere, this nostalgic novel captures creative restlessness and potential, and of how it can harm and heal.

— Julie Jarema


From the New York Times bestselling author of Nothing to See Here comes 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 sad summer in Coalfield, Tennessee, when she meets Zeke, a talented artist who has just moved into his grandmother’s unhappy house and who is as lonely and 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. Satanists, kidnappers—the rumors won’t stop, and soon the mystery has dangerous repercussions that spread far beyond the town. The art that brought Frankie and Zeke together now threatens to tear them apart.

Twenty years later, Frances Eleanor Budge—famous author, mom to a wonderful daughter, wife to a loving husband—gets a call that threatens to upend everything: a journalist named Mazzy Brower is writing a story about the Coalfield Panic of 1996. Might Frances know something about that? And will what she knows destroy the life she’s so carefully built?

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.

About the Author

Kevin Wilson is the author of the novels The Family Fang, a New York Times bestseller adapted into an acclaimed film starring Nicole Kidman, 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. He lives in Sewanee, Tennessee, with his wife and two sons.

Product Details
ISBN: 9780062913500
ISBN-10: 0062913506
Publisher: Ecco
Publication Date: November 8th, 2022
Pages: 256
Language: English