• The Bossy Bookworm

Review of Now Is Not the Time to Panic by Kevin Wilson

Kevin Wilson's wonderfully odd 1990s coming-of-age novel centers around teens Frankie and Zeke, their mysterious artistic creation, and the work's ripple effect, which reaches well beyond what they ever could have imagined.

Sixteen-year-old aspiring writer Frankie is just trying to get through a late 1990s summer in Coalfield, Tennessee, where she's lived all her life. Despite her noisy, raucous household (she has triplet brothers and a busy single mom), she's used to being a loner.

But then a new kid, Zeke, moves into his grandmother's house with his mom, who's in Coalfield nursing a heartbreak. Zeke is an artist, also a loner, and he's fascinating to Frankie.

Frankie and Zeke want to create something--something strange, something people will notice, yet something that is all their own.

They come up with an original enigmatic phrase and add attention-getting artwork, then spread mysterious posters of their creation far and wide--causing speculation, alarm, and repercussions far beyond what they could have predicted.

As he did in a different way in his novel Nothing to See Here, in Now Is Not the Time to Panic, Wilson creates a fascinatingly odd situation, then offers characters' vulnerabilities and imperfections to bring the story to life.

By tracking the fictional course of events as they spiral out of control, exploring Zeke and Frankie's potential responsibility as the creators of the original artwork, then following them to a much later point in their lives, when the truth about the work's origins begins to emerge, Wilson paints a full picture that spans the characters' coming-of-age young adoration as well as their separate adult lives--and how "the poster" unequivocally shaped them into who they are today.

Wilson's Author's Note, which precedes the novel, explains the phrase from the story's poster and what it meant to him in real life. He shares the way in which the concept of the novel grew from hearing the utterance of this phrase in his youth, and explores the circumstances surrounding it.

I received a prepublication edition of this book courtesy of Ecco and NetGalley.

Do you have any Bossy thoughts about this book?

Check out this link for my review of Kevin Wilson's Nothing to See Here.

Wilson is also the author of Baby, You're Gonna Be Mine, The Family Fang, Perfect Little World, and Tunneling to the Center of the Earth: Stories.