An exuberant, bighearted novel about two teenage misfits who spectacularly collide one fateful summer, and the art they make that changes their lives forever
Sixteen-year-old Frankie Budge—aspiring writer, indifferent student, offbeat loner—is determined to make it...Read More
Sixteen-year-old Frankie Budge—aspiring writer, indifferent student, offbeat loner—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. The edge is a shantytown filled with gold seekers. We are fugitives, and the law is skinny with hunger for us.
The posters begin appearing everywhere, and people wonder who is behind them and start to panic. Satanists, kidnappers—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. Might Frances know something about that?
A bold coming-of-age story, written with Kevin Wilson’s trademark wit and blazing prose, Now Is Not the Time to Panic is a nuanced exploration of young love, identity, and the power of art. It’s also about the secrets that haunt us—and, ultimately, what the truth will set free.
Kevin Wilson is the author of the New York Times best-selling novel The Family Fang (Ecco, 2012), Perfect Little World (Ecco, 2017), and Nothing to See Here (Ecco, 2019) as well as the collections, Tunneling to the Center of the Earth (Ecco/Harper Perennial, 2009), which received an Alex Award from the American Library Association and the Shirley Jackson Award, and Baby, You're Gonna Be Mine (Ecco, 2018). His fiction has appeared in Ploughshares, Tin House, One Story, A Public Space, and elsewhere. He has received fellowships from the MacDowell Colony, Yaddo, Rivendell, and the KHN Center for the Arts. He lives in Sewanee, Tennessee, with his wife, the poet Leigh Anne Couch, and his sons, Griff and Patch. He is an Associate Professor in the English Department at the University of the South.
“This is a wildly funny, wonderfully sincere — and a little bit devastating — story of art, our limitless past, future nostalgia and all those perfectly imperfect ways we continually come of age. Kevin Wilson’s books are so full of heart. They’re utterly indelible.” — Courtney Summers, Washington Post
“Wilson has developed a story that is a precise capture of adolescence and of two vibrant teens whose everyday dilemmas, weaknesses, and triumphs are utterly endearing . . . Crisp dialogue and [a] zipping story line.” — Booklist (starred review)
“Full of compassion and gentle humor, this is a wise and winning novel about how youth haunts and defines us.” — Esquire
"It’s the kind of book your cool English literature teacher would recommend when you showed an interest in writing, the type of coming-of-age story that would have been equally destined for a banned books list and a summer reading list." — Vulture
“Kevin Wilson’s Now Is Not the Time to Panic (Ecco) has the feel of a long-gestating work: a novel about creativity and childhood that seems as though its author has been mulling it since his own youth. It bears the markers of Wilson’s style—cleverly cute without tipping over into saccharine territory….Though the book has an earnest heart, it’s colored by Wilson’s appealingly offbeat prose, so that even the most straightforward coming-of-age moments have a funky freshness.” — Vogue
“Kevin Wilson once again deploys his customary humorous, off-center storytelling to artfully delve into deeper matters…[his] deceptively transparent prose, with a touch of humor, a dash of satire and a good bit of insight, carries the reader to a humane and satisfying conclusion.” — BookPage (starred review)
“[A] bighearted novel.” — Vanity Fair
“[T]he latest glorious novel from Kevin Wilson. Now is Not the Time to Panic is about oddballs and misfits; it’s about art, and how the making of art turns what’s weird about you into what’s magical about you.” — OprahDaily.com
“Wilson’s latest novel shows us again that he is at the top of his game, infusing this coming-of-age tale with his trademark sharp wit and deep understanding of love and the uncertainty that comes with fading youth.” — Chicago Review of Books
“What Wilson so eloquently captures is that unique time in one’s life when one small gesture of artistic self-expression — a madcap sentence about living on the fringes and embracing your eccentricities, come what may — really does have the power to change the world, or at least your perception of it.” — San Francisco Chronicle
“[Wilson’s] most emotionally nuanced and profoundly empathetic novel yet. . . . Wilson meaningfully crafts formed characters, allowing his work to register as a universal document of teenage turmoil as blessedly compassionate as it is cunning. Highly recommended as a sincere, sometimes brutal, but always sturdy study of the burden of both art and adolescence and a wonderfully evocative treatise on how we imprint ourselves on the world and learn to survive in that tumultuous wake.” — Library Journal