The three unite, promising to help each other and split the winnings. As the summer, progresses and Panic becomes more intense and more dangerous, participants drop out, leaving Heather, Natalie, and Dodge in the final few. There is romance, heartbreak, fights with parents and siblings, and questions about what the end of summer will bring. In the end there is only one winner of Panic, but the lessons learned and friendships gained are a far greater prize.
Why I liked it: The chapters in Panic are written from alternating point of views, Heather's and Dodge's, a technique that always interests me. Both the female and male teenage voices are realistic and convincing, a feat some authors just can't pull off. The novel is fast paced and you will want to read it in one sitting as the intensity of Panic builds and draws you in. The plot had some great surprises and twists that you didn't see coming.
Classroom application: This is a must add to your classroom library (grades 8-12). Both your male and female students will be hooked, although I wish the cover was more gender neutral.
This novel could be a selection for literature circles focused on the theme of coming of age.
You could also use it as a mentor text to have students practice writing from alternating perspectives and developing multiple, intersecting plot lines (part of the narrative writing standards for grades 11-12). Another fun writing exercise would be having students analyze each others' writing to try to determine the author's gender. Can your male students write convincingly from a girl's point of view? Can your female students create a convincing male voice?
For more reading suggestions for students and teachers:
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