Now is Not the Time to Panic

Rating: 5 out of 5.
Kevin Wilson – Expected November 15, 2022

We all know words have power. They can unite or divide.

In 1996, teens Frances (Frankie) and Zeke are the anonymous co-creators of art that is attributed with unintended meaning. While it doesn’t occur at the lightning speed we experience in the age of social media, the backlash is deadly.

Fast-forward to 2017, when a reporter approaches Frankie with a suspicion about the events of that summer, forcing Frankie to revisit her actions and the reactions of the townspeople of Coalfield, Tennessee and beyond – and now we have a story to tell.

One of Kevin Wilson’s subtlest, yet most striking gifts is his ability to flesh out his characters with just a few lines of dialogue.  The reader only needs to read one or two lines spoken by Frankie’s mother to get a clear picture of a loving but sometimes mildly intrusive parent who usually misses the mark. The exception to this subtlety is when Frankie (who shares a lot of qualities with the teen Frankie character in The Member of the Wedding by Carson McCullers) actually mentions the book. OK, we get it. Two Frankies, both southern and outgrowing their former friends.  It’s also noticeable and unusual that late-30’s-Frankie has a voice that is undistinguishable from 16-year-old Frankie.

Still – although Wilson’s beautifully written and honest notes “On Writing Now is Not the Time to Panic” don’t support this intent, the author has created an intriguing statement about the spread of hate in the face of concepts we don’t understand.  Readable, relatable, and thought-provoking, Now is Not the Time to Panic is a novel you won’t want to miss. In spite of the very minor issues mentioned, the concept and its execution deserve five stars.

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