Sharon Draper is one of my favorite authors. She has written quite a few books, among those Copper Sun, Out of My Mind (a children’s book but no less meaningful), Romiette and Julio (which I own), and the trilogy Forged by Fire, Tears of a Tiger, and Darkness before Dawn (and all of these I recommend). She mainly focuses on the lives of the African-American community but she of course includes characters from many diverse backgrounds.
Panic is a relatively short book, about 250 pages long and spans a little under a week, and I couldn’t put it down until I finished it. No, seriously, I finished it the same day and in the same place I started reading it, at the dinner table. The characters are teenagers who are a part of a dance academy. Dance is their life and it means something to each and every one of them. The main characters, Justin, Diamond, Mercedes, and Layla, are each given a voice. Each of those characters have their own story; Justin, the lone male in the dance group sees Layla’s worth but she is caught up in her own relationship with an abusive boyfriend and a father in jail, and Mercedes is focused on blaming herself for what happened to Diamond. But the spotlight is on Diamond, the one who left with a stranger and went missing for six days and six nights while the community searched for her and prayed for her safe return.
With this novel, Draper again shows the power of a community and an individual. The love that Diamond’s friends and family have for her gave her strength and gave the community hope. I loved this book and it makes me impatient to read another book of hers.