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A Reading Vocation

"I Must Read, Read, and Read. It is my Vocation." - Thomas Merton

This is where I chronicle my reading life.  I also blog about writing at Lacey's Late-night Editing.



Book 7/100: Panic by Sharon draper

Panic - Sharon M. Draper

For a book about a girl who is kidnapped and forced into pornography, this book just wasn't as SCARY as I expected it to be.

Perhaps this is because Draper treats the details of exactly what happens during Diamond's confinement so sensitively, which I can understand in a YA book, but it also deflated the tension a bit. Diamond is drugged before the abuse starts so you never really get to see her realization that she's made a mistake; you never get to see the man's transformation from charming to abusive. The story also cuts away to her classmates in a dance class often, following their own lives in the week that follows her disappearance. They have their own problems to deal with, and they don't seem quite as jarred by her disappearance as one would expect -- especially her best friend, who spends most of those days supporting another mutual friend who is having trouble with her boyfriend.

There are a lot of issues crammed into this book -- abduction, rape, dating violence, incarcerated parents, etc. The dance motif is well done, although sometimes the dance teacher comes across as a little too wise and benevolent. What I found most interesting about the book was its examination about how sexual violence exists on a continuum -- within the course of the story we see boys/men who are respectful of women and refuse to participate in their objectification in any way, right down to deleting racy photos sent to their cell phones. Then we see an abusive boyfriend who <spoiler>sends provocative photos of his girlfriend to his whole contacts list to shame her</spoiler>, which is essentially an stepping stone toward the furthest end of the spectrum in the pedophile/pornographer who has kidnapped and abused Diamond.

With something like this, which would totally rip a girl's world apart, I really wanted to see more of the aftermath and recovery. Getting out physically is not the same as getting over it, and while the book acknowledges this, I felt that too much of the story was left untold by closing the curtain without letting the reader in on that journey.

Still, this is an important topic, certainly a worthwhile cautionary tale, and also important for anyone to remember -- many of the girls/women you see in pornography did not arrive there by any sort of "choice" we would recognize.