JUSTIN, Friday, April 12 4 p.m.
“ ‘Proud and insolent youth,’ said Hook, ‘prepare to meet thy doom.’
“ ‘Dark and sinister man,’ Peter answered, ‘have at thee.’ ”
—from Peter Pan
“Hey, dance boy!”
Sixteen-year-old Justin Braddock, wearing his favorite Timberland boots, tromped down the rain-slicked sidewalk, book bag slung over his left shoulder, heading to the bus stop. He did not turn around—he knew who trailed behind him.
“You heard me, dancing queen! Don’t be tiptoeing away, now.”
Justin sighed. Another fight.
Zac Patterson, the wrestling team’s “sultan of the slam,” was known to brandish both his biceps and equally massive ego. He yelled louder. “What up, fag!”
“Swish!” added Ben Bones. Justin knew Bones would be hovering just a few steps behind Zac, safe like a shadow.
Justin tried to ignore the idiots behind him. Guys had been teasing him for years, ever since he started taking dance lessons. He was as tall as Zac, more muscled than Bones. But most guys seemed clueless about the athletic skills required for the leaps and lifts he had mastered. And none of them knew how much he loved it.
“Look how he twitches those hips!” Zac jeered.
Justin wondered, amused, why Zac was so interested in his butt.
“Got your shiny pink toe shoes stuffed in that bag? Who braids your hair—yo mama?” Bones asked, laughing loudly with Zac.
“Your mama wears a tutu too!” Zac and Bones hooted with laughter.
Justin stopped walking. He tossed his backpack on the ground and spun around. “Don’t you talk about my mother!” he hissed. A surge of rage and sorrow coursed through him. His mother had died less than a year before, and it felt like yesterday. It felt like forever.
“Your mama so stupid, she tried to put her M&M’s in alphabetical order!” Bones sniped, still standing safely behind Zac.
Justin was not in a mood to play the dozens. Not today. Not ever. Not about his mom.
“Your mama twice the man you are,” Zac sneered.
Justin did not hesitate. He wheeled around, tightened his right fist, then, with a whump, he planted a direct blow to the center of Zac’s gut.
Zac, all two hundred pounds of him, crumpled in a heap on the sidewalk. “Oomph,” he managed to mumble.
Bones, looking terrified, placed both his hands in a strategic position to protect himself, but Justin just glared at him.
“Dance with that!” Justin said as he picked up his pack. He continued down the street and did not look back.
Diamond knows not to get into a car with a stranger.
But what if the stranger is well-dressed and handsome? On his way to meet his wife and daughter? And casting a movie that very night—a movie in need of a star dancer? What then?
Then Diamond might make the wrong decision.
It’s a nightmare come true: Diamond Landers has been kidnapped. She was at the mall with a friend, alone for only a few brief minutes—and now she’s being held captive, forced to endure horrors beyond what she ever could have dreamed, while her family and friends experience their own torments and wait desperately for any bit of news.
From New York Times bestselling author Sharon Draper, this is a riveting exploration of power: how quickly we can lose it—and how we can take it back.
Sharon Draper speaks on her controversial novel Panic
Read an Excerpt
Reading Group Guide
By Sharon M. Draper
1. Panic begins with a confrontation between Justin, a dancer, and some local bullies. How does this help capture the reader’s attention? Discuss the impact of bullies in schools. What is your opinion of how Justin handles the bullies?
2. What predictions can the reader make about Justin and his role as a dancer and a teenager? Compare those predictions to what really happens at the end of the novel.
3. Describe the dance academy and the role it seems to play in the lives of the students who take lessons there. How is the relationship between a dance teacher and her students different from an academic classroom teacher and his or her students?
4. Describe Diamond’s home life. As you first meet Diamond, how is she like many young people today? How is she different? What seem to be her biggest insecurities? Her greatest strengths? What character traits does she have that will help her through the difficulties to come?
5. Describe the initial meeting between Diamond and Thane. How believable is it that he is able to convince her to leave with him? Do you think he planned that confrontation? What would you have done in the same situation?
6. Discuss the reactions of the students to Diamond’s disappearance. Which characters stand out and why?
7. Ho see more
Behind the Book
Panic Behind the Book
Behind the Book The Story Behind Panic by Sharon M. Draper Several years ago I read an article about two girls, ages 14 and 15, who were abducted from a mall by a man who promised them jobs in the modeling profession. They got into his car voluntarily, thinking probably of being proud of making a sound, adult career decision. It was six months before they were able to escape their captor. Teen abductions in this country often are not reported because it is assumed that the teen simply rsee more