Sixteen-year-old Frankie Budge is determined to make it through yet another summer in Coalfield, Tennessee, when she meets Zeke, a talented artist who has just moved into his grandmother's house and who is as 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. When the posters begin appearing everywhere, people wonder who is behind them and start to panic. The rumors won't stop, and soon the mystery has dangerous repercussions that spread far beyond the town. Twenty years later, Frances Eleanor Budge gets a call that threatens to upend her carefully built life: a journalist named Mazzy Brower is writing a story about the Coalfield Panic of 1996.
If you have any interest in joy-reading, then run out today and pick up Now Is Not the Time to Panic, the latest glorious novel from Kevin Wilson ... Frankie’s voice is so clear and compelling, her inner life so well-drawn, that I don’t doubt her existence for a second ... I was hooked,...adult Frankie’s voice is just as compelling as her teen voice.
... obsessively nostalgic ... Frankie and Zeke exult in their profundity, but the real triumph here is Wilson’s. With what pure awe Now Is Not the Time to Panic captures the adolescent thrill of creation — a thrill beyond all reason, but no less powerful and transformative. Although Wilson never mocks these young artists, he doesn’t obscure their naivete either ... This story is much more likely to break your heart than your funny bone. Wilson is witty, to be sure, and he has a firm grip on the absurdity of domestic life, particularly families and their strange, terrarium-like realms. But if there’s comedy here, it’s steeped in melancholy ... plumbs both the intensity of an early creative experience and the strange way such experiences get preserved in the amber of our minds. The result is another tender, moving novel by an author who understands how truly bizarre ordinary life is.
A book destined to become a cult classic, if not just a classic, period ... Compelling...Wilson digs deep ... Frankie and Zeke are wholly original characters, their lives painful and true, and while this is a novel you can read in a single sitting, it is best devoured slowly, a treat for the heart and mind.