Book Review: Panic by Sharon Draper

One of the books I’ve recently read is Panic by Sharon Draper. It tells the story of a group of teen dancers. It starts out with them preparing to put on the dance version of the show Peter Pan.

However disaster is about to strike. Diamond and her best friend Mercedies stop by the mall on the way to a rehearsal. Mercedies says that she wants to look at something in a store. Diamond is bored and heads to the food court and says that they’ll meet up in five minutes. When Mercedies gets there Diamond is gone.

Diamond meets a very good looking man in the food court. He tells her that he is a movie producer and that he’s doing auditions for Peter Pan. Diamond can’t believe her luck! And that not only would she have the chance to meet well known movie stars but possibly get the part in his movie that she didn’t get at the studio. She has reservations but Thanelures her into it. Saying she can call her mom/ friends when she gets to the house.

Diamond’s phone is low on battery. She texts Mercedies saying she met a guy who could land her a part in a Peter Pan movie and she’d call soon.

Mercedies is terrified as is all at the studio and her family. They at first think maybe this is true. But then have their doubts that a man wouldn’t actually pick up a random girl at the mall. They start an investigation on Diamond.

Interspersed in this tragedy is Layla’s relationship with Donovan. Donovan is a very controlling boyfriend. He’s always wanting to know where she is who she’s with ETC. He particularly hates it when Layla is seen dancing with Max the only guy at the studio. The other girls try and tell Layla that she deserves better than Donovan but she seems to feel he’s the only one who would truly love her and that his jealousy is a sign of love.

Meanwhile Diamond is inchanted by Thane’s big house, friendly irish setter and movie stuff including Harry Poter scripts. He says the actors are delayed and while Diamond looks around he gives her a coke. Suddenly she feels funny can’t speak and blacks out.

In the morning she is tied to a bed with her hands above her head. An unthinkable terrible thing has happened. Thane has used Diamond in pornographic movies with different men coming to the house but mostly himself in the staring male role.

She is devastated and tries to scream for help. Thane comes to her and says there’s nothing she can do. She’s his. He keeps commenting on the “great job” she did and how “flexible” a dancer’s body is. Diamond is horrified and can’t imagine what happened the night before.

Meanwhile the town holds a vigil for diamond. The dance studio is in emotional chaos everyone blaming themselves for Diamond’s disappearance. The dance teacher is extremely wise and is an ankor for everyone emotionally. At one class they’re unable to do a normal rehearsal due to the weight of everything. Each person selects a song to dance to that expresses their feelings about Diamond, expresses their strong fear or anger about the situation. The descriptions of the dances are extremely vivid and you can tell how the dance releases so much pent up emotion in all of them.

Diamond falls into a horrible routine. Every night drinking drugged water, though less and less of the drug each time. Thane twistedly wants Diamond to “enjoy it.” By being more alert. She spends all day locked in the room. Trying to think up escapes but nothing comes to her. There is only one very high imposible to break window. The room is cleared of any weapons she can use.

Thane brings her finger food. Every morning she is given nice looking fresh clothes and clean sheets. As the days pass, she is there six days, he gives her things like an ipod or novels to read. At times he lets the dog stay in the room with her and she becomes the only comfort Diamond has. That and imagining dancing. Listening to music on the ipod putting herself in the experiences of dances gives her inner strength.

When Thane drops his guard in leaving a untensel in the room Diamond jumps at the chance and plans an escape. Incredibly the dog seems to lead the way to safety. Thane is physically hurt. Diamond is able to find freedom at last.

Meanwhile things come to a head in Layla’s relationship with Donovan as he too posts pornographic pictures on the internet.

This story is about how not going with/ talking to strangers isn’t just for kids. How a teenager can be lead into a horrible situation as easily as a child could. About how pedofiles do what they do. It’s also about abusive relationships in general. And the power of dance as a way to come to terms with even the most traumatic experiences. Quotes from Peter Pan and a list of songs used in the book supliment this heartfelt novel.

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3 thoughts on “Book Review: Panic by Sharon Draper

  1. I don’t know how I feel about this book, based upon your review. I like your review. But the book itself–particularly the main plot concerning Diamond’s kidnapping and conscription into sexual slavery–sounds like it is aesthesizing violence.

    Which kind of means…the author makes a spectacle out of her “concern” for the sexual abuse of Diamond while also deriving prurient curiosity from it. I sort of hate that dynamic of Young Adult lit–wanting to see a virgin debased so that she can heroically revenge herself on her oppressor. It never seems as many pages are spent on the heroic overcoming as on the debasement.

    I don’t think I would like this book. I understand it has a superficial desire to educate its audience about the dangers of child predation, but I don’t think that’s the author’s true purpose here.

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