by Sharon M. Draper


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This gripping and chillingly realistic novel from New York Times bestselling author Sharon Draper shows that all it takes is one bad decision for everything to change.

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.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781442408975
Publisher: Atheneum Books for Young Readers
Publication date: 04/01/2014
Edition description: Reprint
Pages: 272
Sales rank: 161,111
Product dimensions: 5.18(w) x 7.93(h) x 0.80(d)
Lexile: HL610L (what's this?)
Age Range: 14 - 17 Years

About the Author

Sharon M. Draper is a New York Times bestselling author and recipient of the Margaret A. Edwards Award honoring her significant and lasting contribution to writing for teens. She has received the Coretta Scott King Award for both Copper Sun and Forged by Fire, and was most recently awarded the Charlotte Huck Award for Stella by Starlight. Her novel Out of My Mind has won multiple awards and was a New York Times bestseller for over three years. She lives in Cincinnati, Ohio, where she taught high school English for twenty-five years and was named National Teacher of the Year. Visit her at

Read an Excerpt


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.


Not today.

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.

What People are Saying About This

Richie's Picks - Richie Partington

"Sharon M. Draper's PANIC is an outstanding book... [This is] high-interest contemporary fiction — a book that many readers will gulp down in one evening. It is a story that addresses important issues (like never getting into cars with strangers, and never letting your high school boyfriend take photos of you that you wouldn't want your parents to see). Thus, it is a book that could quite likely save lives and reputations. Some astute readers will recognize how these issues all relate to the objectification of women in our culture. And it is for these reasons that PANIC will be an important addition to middle school and high school collections. With a little luck, there will be lots of young adolescents who read it and learn the consequences of risky behaviors — without having to learn them the hard way.

Reading Group Guide

A Reading Group Guide to

By Sharon M. Draper

Discussion Questions

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. How does Diamond gradually discover the enormity and evil of her situation? What is both ironic and horrible about Thane’s explanation of what is to happen?

8. Describe Donovan physically, emotionally, and socially. Why do you think a girl like Layla lets him mistreat her? What factors in her life might play a part? How is Donny’s behavior another form of bullying?

9. If available, listen to the music Justin dances to in chapter 11. Visualize his performance as you listen. How do the words match both the movement and the music?

10. Compare and contrast the April 14 Sunday morning of Mercedes and of Diamond.

11. How do extraordinary events affect the lives of ordinary people? Describe how Diamond’s disappearance affected her parents, her sister, and her friends.

12. Compare and contrast the relationship of Mercedes and Steve, and the relationship of Layla and Donovan. Give specific examples of noticeable differences.

13. The source of pleasure for most of the characters in the book is dance. Describe how music and dance in the novel help to aid various characters throughout. Why are music and performance easy ways to explain complicated feelings? How can self-expression be used as a tool for helping or healing?

14. Layla thinks she is in control of the situation when she lets Donny take the pictures. Describe how innocent lapses in judgment led to her problems the next day.

15. Discuss the power of social media, the Internet, and instant sharing of information. How can that be both positive and negative?

16. Compare and contrast the reaction of students at school to Layla’s pictures and Justin’s reaction to the pictures and to Layla.

17. How does Diamond find the strength to survive her ordeal? What does she do to cling to hope? How successful do you think her reintegration into both school and dance classes will be?

18. Compare and contrast Diamond’s abuse and Layla’s abuse. How are their situations similar? How are they different?

19. Explain the title of the novel. Why does the title have more than one possible interpretation? Use specific examples to support your answer.

20. Partner abuse in high school, bullying, and the criminality of Internet sexual abuse are topics that need to be discussed. Discuss how the lives of Diamond and the others are portrayed and how the characters can become voices for young readers.

Activities and Research

1. You are a reporter at one of the following scenes:

• the dance recital
• the video made by Diamond’s parents, pleading for her release
• the scene where rescue crews arrive for Diamond
• classes and activities at the dance academy

Write the story for your newspaper.

2. Investigate child abductions. Find out statistics as well as solutions.

3. Investigate bullying in schools. Find out statistics as well as solutions.

4. Explain how the quotes from Peter Pan fit into the flow of each chapter. OR Read the original Peter Pan and analyze it as a children’s story.

5. Write a letter to one of the characters in the book explaining your feelings about the events in the story. What advice would you give Diamond, Layla, Justin, or Mercedes?

6. Imagine it is three months after the end of the novel. Write a letter or create a conversation between the following characters:
Layla to Justin
Diamond to Shasta
Mercedes to Miss Ginger
Zizi to Jillian
Thane to his lawyer

7. In diary form, write the life of Diamond (after the abduction) for several months. Include details about how she copes with her bad memories, her lost dreams, and her hope for the future.

8. Trace the story of one of the following characters. Imagine you are a reporter doing a story on one of their lives. Write everything you know, as well as whatever you can infer about the character in order to write your magazine article.
Miss Ginger

9. Listen to the songs used in the novel and tell how each one fit into the themes of the story and the lives of the characters.

10. Describe the relationship between the friends in the book. Is friendship enough when situations become monumental and overwhelming to young people? Explain.

Guide written by the author.

This guide has been provided by Simon & Schuster for classroom, library, and reading group use. It may be reproduced in its entirety or excerpted for these purposes.

Customer Reviews

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Panic 4.1 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 21 reviews.
BlkosinerBookBlog More than 1 year ago
    Panic is a pretty intense book that shows the power of friendship, and the arts. It tackles quite a few tough issues, kidnapping, abusive relationships, and what happens when you take things a bit too far and then the consequences. It wasn't what I expected from the summary, but I ended up liking it anyways.      I appreciated the multiple points of view, showing how Diamond being missing effects her friends, as well as Layla being in the destructive relationship hurts more than just her. I liked the message of hope, and healing, as well as the sense of community with the dancers that Panic gave me.      It was tough being in Diamond's head, but I admired the clear head that she kept about her. Even though she was going through really tough stuff, and didn't know where she was, and she knew awful things were happening to her, she still thought about taking care of herself even when she didn't want to because she wanted to be able to find that right moment to get herself out.      Being in Mercedes head was hard, because she was with Diamond when she disappeared. They had seperated for about half and hour, and then she gets a text from her friend, and then no one hears from her, and she is declared missing. She carries around understandable guilt, that I think that anyone would feel. But I love the support she gets, and that she is told not to blame herself.      Also, Justin. Oh my. I loved how he stood up for Layla, and I could totally see what he saw in her. I relate with Layla though with her self esteem issues too by the way. But I love that he is bold but shy all at the same time. And I adore male dancers. I like that he meshed his ballet with the hip hop, that was a real treat. And I appreciate how he saw through the scandal with Layla and didn't turn his back on her. It was also admirable how he stayed true to liking her even through her being with Donovan, and making some not so smart choices.      One thing that distracted me through it all is the slang. It has been a while that I have read a book where it was distracting to me, even in the dystopias where there are sometimes new words and terms thrown at me. Maybe it is because I am not a teen and I am a stay at home mom, but that is my take.       I also wished that the book was longer, and gave more of a resolution than just hinting at the hope and healing that we get a glimpse of from the characters. But I have started preferring wrapped up to open ended in my contemporary, so personal preference I suppose.       Ms. Draper handled all of the tough issues with grace, and I like how she had the parents, siblings, and their dance teacher involved in their life, giving support, and how dance was always an outlet for the girls and Justin.  Bottom Line: Emotional and fast paced.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I real like our book ut is realy touching i hope you make another book just like thus one. It is good i almost cryed
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Dudes this thriller jusst outdid micheal jackson!! Diamond was a strong character wich i loved and mercades was a sassy but realtable girl. I recemmend this to u and u and yes u cuz anyone will fall in love!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
All of our lives we have been told to never talk to strangers, but just once couldn't hurt, right? Wrong! Just as dance rehearsals for a major show start, the group gets distracted and unfocused when one of their dance team members goes missing. In the book Panic by Sharon M. Draper, it was just another normal day at Crystal Point Dance Academy, or so they thought, when Diamond Landers suddenly disappears. Diamond knows talking to strangers is bad, but when one offers her something that intrigues her she just cannot help herself from taking the offer from the stranger. After Diamond disappears she goes through terrible things that are out of her control. As I read this book I was amazed at how the detail of the book created a clearer picture for the reader, but it also made the book more interesting to read. I would not recommend this book for kids, because I think that the author wrote this book for an audience of teenagers and young adults. I thoroughly enjoyed reading this book mainly because it is one of those books that just grab your attention until you are finished reading it. I would recommend this book to my friends or anyone interested, because it was enjoyable.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I liked panic, even though it has some... sad? parts. I am a little young to read this though.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This book is so good it gets so intresting soon as you turn your page.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I believe “Panic” by, Haron M. Draper, is a wonderful book. It has a great mystery to it, and had me on the edge of my seat wondering what’s going to happen next. This book takes place in a small town, high school, and local mall. The main characters are Diamond, Mercedes, Laya, Ziz, Justin, And Thane English. In this book one of the main characters, gets kidnap and drugged. All her friends and families got worried when she didn’t make it to one of her performance. No one knew where she was only thing was a text she sent to one of friends. Some people thought she just missed her performance, others thought something bad has happen. During the school performance everyone is trying to figure out what has happen. And help the police find her. To know all that happened next. You should really read this book. I’m not really into books but I really enjoyed seating down. Trying to figure out what all is happening and what will happen next. You should really enjoy it yourself
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This was ab amzingggggg book. The only reason i read it because the main chracter has my name. But it relly is a great book and it teaches you about life.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
The book followed several different characters from a dance studio. Each chapter was played out so it was following a certain character. It addressed several different issues, like being in an abusive relationship. One thing I did not like about the book was the way the characters talked. I have never meet anyone who actually talks like that and don't think I ever will. Overall, it was a pretty short and easy read.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
please turn this into a series
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This book sounds sad because of the summary but this is a lesson for me.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
The plot line is pretty interesting, but that's all it has. This book completely lacks in detail and true substance. I read it all in 2 days. Just go to the store and read it for free if you're really curious; not worth the buy - I regret it.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Jenna your done roleplaying.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
She has such great potential love her
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Jenna lets talk
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I haven't read the book but the synopsis looks really good. I have read the Hazelwood High Trilogy and i love her books.