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The Art of Escaping

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Seventeen-year-old Mattie has a hidden obsession: escapology. Emphasis on hidden. If anyone from school finds out, she’ll be abandoned to her haters. Facing a long and lonely summer, Mattie finally seeks out Miyu, the reclusive daughter of a world-renowned escape artist. Following in Houdini’s footsteps, Miyu helps Mattie secretly transform herself into an escapologist and Seventeen-year-old Mattie has a hidden obsession: escapology. Emphasis on hidden. If anyone from school finds out, she’ll be abandoned to her haters. Facing a long and lonely summer, Mattie finally seeks out Miyu, the reclusive daughter of a world-renowned escape artist. Following in Houdini’s footsteps, Miyu helps Mattie secretly transform herself into an escapologist and performance artist. When Will, a popular athlete from school, discovers Mattie’s act at an underground venue, Mattie fears her secret persona will be exposed. Instead of outing her, Will tells Mattie a secret not even his girlfriend knows. Through a blossoming friendship, the two must find a way to express their authentic selves. Told through the perspectives of the witty main characters, this funny and fresh debut explores the power of stage personas and secret spaces, and speaks to the uncanny ways in which friendships transform us.


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Seventeen-year-old Mattie has a hidden obsession: escapology. Emphasis on hidden. If anyone from school finds out, she’ll be abandoned to her haters. Facing a long and lonely summer, Mattie finally seeks out Miyu, the reclusive daughter of a world-renowned escape artist. Following in Houdini’s footsteps, Miyu helps Mattie secretly transform herself into an escapologist and Seventeen-year-old Mattie has a hidden obsession: escapology. Emphasis on hidden. If anyone from school finds out, she’ll be abandoned to her haters. Facing a long and lonely summer, Mattie finally seeks out Miyu, the reclusive daughter of a world-renowned escape artist. Following in Houdini’s footsteps, Miyu helps Mattie secretly transform herself into an escapologist and performance artist. When Will, a popular athlete from school, discovers Mattie’s act at an underground venue, Mattie fears her secret persona will be exposed. Instead of outing her, Will tells Mattie a secret not even his girlfriend knows. Through a blossoming friendship, the two must find a way to express their authentic selves. Told through the perspectives of the witty main characters, this funny and fresh debut explores the power of stage personas and secret spaces, and speaks to the uncanny ways in which friendships transform us.

30 review for The Art of Escaping

  1. 5 out of 5

    jessica

    fun fact about me: i went through a massive harry houdini phase in my youth. i got a magic kit for christmas and everything. so you can imagine how excited i was for this new release - a story about a young girl who has a hobby in escapism?! sounds great! however, the grand finale of this book seemed to be making my excitement and interest disappear. :( i think the plot, itself, had promise. i adored that the story explored themes of friendship, creating an identity for yourself and finding your fun fact about me: i went through a massive harry houdini phase in my youth. i got a magic kit for christmas and everything. so you can imagine how excited i was for this new release - a story about a young girl who has a hobby in escapism?! sounds great! however, the grand finale of this book seemed to be making my excitement and interest disappear. :( i think the plot, itself, had promise. i adored that the story explored themes of friendship, creating an identity for yourself and finding your passions, the concept of fitting in, and how to be honest and true to yourself. i just dont think this was executed well at all. and my main problem was with the writing and characters. the writing felt very inexperienced and all over the place. there are random shifts in perspective and timing, making the story difficult to follow. not sure if that was due to the author trying to find her own unique writing style or just poor editing. also, the characters do not act or talk like the teenagers they are supposed to be? i can only imagine how difficult it is to create individualistic voices for characters when they each have 1st person point of views, but wow. these characters just did not seem authentic and were not easy to connect with. so while there were some genuinely fantastic aspects of this book, it just left me feeling a little disappointed in the end. ↠ 2.5 stars

  2. 5 out of 5

    Elle (ellexamines)

    “Without further ado, the Salone Postale proudly presents the intrepid, the indelible, the incomparable... Ginger!” A stagehand pulled open the curtain, and I got my first look at the audience. “Her hair's not red,” one of the hecklers shouted. “I want my money back.” A good and probably-about-to-be-underrated-read! This was my first-ever physical arc I received directly from an author and publisher, and I have to say I’m pretty pleased it was this one. The Art of Escaping is a book abou “Without further ado, the Salone Postale proudly presents the intrepid, the indelible, the incomparable... Ginger!” A stagehand pulled open the curtain, and I got my first look at the audience. “Her hair's not red,” one of the hecklers shouted. “I want my money back.” A good and probably-about-to-be-underrated-read! This was my first-ever physical arc I received directly from an author and publisher, and I have to say I’m pretty pleased it was this one. The Art of Escaping is a book about finding your passion, whatever it is, and finding a group of people who want to be a part of that passion. I think in high school, wanting to find a group who want you - it could be one person or fifty people - is one of the most important things in the world. This is a book that knows how important that can be, and wants to show you. First of all, can I just say: this book is really humorous. The humor here didn’t always fit my sense, but several moments of sarcastic humor gave me a good laugh. And there were so many minor things that worked for me! I appreciated the moments of poking fun at typical high-school tropes. I also really liked, though it was minor, Mattie’s history class - cool good teachers in YA are always something I really enjoy. And okay, a nitpick section for somewhat eh lines and themes that I, personally, disliked? Okay, there’s one moment - this is arc and not final copy - where a teacher suggests a gay-straight alliance and the main character responds with “I’m apolitical” and, you know, I am dead tired of being queer being defined as a political thing. Would love if that got released. And the minute girl hate element is... hm. On one hand, Mattie talks a lot about how Meadow isn’t really bad, just above it all, and puts her on the same level as several dudes. But on the other hand, the intro is so filled with bouncy hair that the entire thing feels like yet another “wow, aren’t girls who fit western beauty standards terrible?” And in general, I think a few of the attempts to point out racism and homophobia fall a little short. Will’s thoughts on his mother’s treatment of gay men as objects beyond people are so amazing and important. And then… they disappear in two pages. His later coming out exemplifies his mom’s homophobia, but the whole thing is written off. And in general, I think this book was not without flaws — a few more complicated sections feel somewhat messily written in that debut-novel way, and there’s a dream sequence towards the beginning that could really use some editing. But in the end, I thought this was a really fun story about finding your passions. I’ll definitely be reading more by this author. Blog | Goodreads | Twitter | Youtube

  3. 5 out of 5

    C.G. Drews

    This book was actually so so stressful. I've seen a few escapology acts on like talent shows on TV or whatever...but reading about it is JUST AS STRESSFUL. The finale had me all stiff and hunched over my kindle until I realised??? Like chill out, ok, it'll be fine. (Cue me: not chilling out.) Anyway! So I definitely enjoyed this one a lot. Particularly with such a different topic that I'd never gotten to read in a YA book before?! It was fast-paced and exciting, and had a lot of heart too. I con This book was actually so so stressful. I've seen a few escapology acts on like talent shows on TV or whatever...but reading about it is JUST AS STRESSFUL. The finale had me all stiff and hunched over my kindle until I realised??? Like chill out, ok, it'll be fine. (Cue me: not chilling out.) Anyway! So I definitely enjoyed this one a lot. Particularly with such a different topic that I'd never gotten to read in a YA book before?! It was fast-paced and exciting, and had a lot of heart too. I confess it did fall apart for me a little because of a few reasons though. Including: (a) Mattie is really mean but yet everyone wants to be her friend apparently (?!?) and (b) it uses the "whined" dialogue tag so. freaking. much and I hate whining, I hate whiners, I hate being TOLD a character is whining like every chapter, and (c) I do just wish we'd seen a bit more of the characters feelings? (Also it had a few...things...I'm not really sure about concerning the lgbtqia element: like it refers to being gay as a "political decision" at one stage, and gives a throw-away comment about if you're friends with gay people it makes you a better person?! i don't even know where to start with that, whether it's saying it's a gay person's duty to educate you [no] or you get cookies for being friends with them [no]. There are mere lines, but I think they could've been handled better.) But otherwise it was really fun! Lots of teen angst mixed with death-defying acts. I like how both Mattie and Will were really scared of the idea that they could turn out being people who do nothing and mean nothing. And honestly their jazz-obsession and 20s slang drove me nuts, buuuut it grew on me a little. It touches on fears of college, being gay and closeted, and doing things that you enjoy and makes you feel alive. I REALLY like that. Also it has: ☆ fabulous cranky mentor (but a woman and in her 30s which is AWESOME for the stereotype!) ☆ pretty much zero romance ☆ it's very much focused on friendship and the friendship group of Mattie, Will, Stella and Frankie at the end was AWESOME ☆ i did not learn how to pick a lock but I feel enthused that I would like to learn ☆ the characters do a lot of problematic things...but they own it and talk about it and there are consequences and I think that's a good example of books being messy and flawed but also dealing with it

  4. 4 out of 5

    Erin

    If you want all the latest deets on THE ART OF ESCAPING (including some amusing deleted scenes), fun squid facts, and news about giveaways, events, future projects, and every other bookish thing I'm up to, please subscribe to my newsletter. https://tinyletter.com/erinpcallahan ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ UPDATE 6/30/18: FIRST, the book is now out. So if you haven't already, please consider reviewing it on Amazon, even if you didn't buy it from Amazon. Fifty reviews on Amazon actually gets a If you want all the latest deets on THE ART OF ESCAPING (including some amusing deleted scenes), fun squid facts, and news about giveaways, events, future projects, and every other bookish thing I'm up to, please subscribe to my newsletter. https://tinyletter.com/erinpcallahan ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ UPDATE 6/30/18: FIRST, the book is now out. So if you haven't already, please consider reviewing it on Amazon, even if you didn't buy it from Amazon. Fifty reviews on Amazon actually gets a book flagged differently in the Amazon logarithms. Or something. Either way, it's important! SECOND, I'll be doing a reading/signing on July 14th @ 5PM at...dun dun dun...the Houdini Museum in Scranton, PA, with none other than DOROTHY DIETRICH. *explodes with joy* So if you live in the vicinity, or feel like taking the bus from NYC, please stop by. It will be a time! UPDATE 6/6/18: Want to win an annotated copy of THE ART OF ESCAPING? Of course you do. Just sign up for my newsletter by noon on June 12th. You'll get the inaugural issue of the newsletter and I'll enter all my subscribers in the giveaway. Here's the link: https://tinyletter.com/erinpcallahan UPDATE 5/23/18: THE ART OF ESCAPING will be out in less than a month! Tell your friends, family, neighbors, estranged relatives, and any bookish strangers you run into. My launch party will be at Gibson's Bookstore in Concord, NH, on June 28th at 5:30 PM. If you're a local (or willing to drive for book stuff), please stop by to hear me answer questions about the book and have your copy signed by moi. Yay! UPDATE 2/6/18: I'll be signing ARCs and handing out fancy ART OF ESCAPING bookmarks at the ALA Midwinter Meeting in Denver on February 11th @ 2pm. Come find me at the Amberjack booth! UPDATE 11/20/17: ARCs are officially out in the world! I'm super excited but I also want to note that I've already caught some problematic stuff (ableist language and fat shaming that doesn’t get called out) that I hope to change in the final proof. UPDATE WITHIN AN UPDATE - 6/5/18: Because a number of reviewers have pointed it out, I want to let everyone know that the line in the first chapter in which Mattie responds to a suggestion that she join the GSA with "I'm apolitical" DID NOT make it into the final version of the book. Many thanks to Elise (TheBookishActress) for being the first to call out this line and make me realize that it didn't set the tone I was going for. Write and learn. 10/18/17: Hi, I wrote this book. I'm beyond thrilled to be on the list of YA books with LGBT+ characters/themes coming out in 2018. It's a little hard to tell from the blurb that my book has two POV characters (actually 2.5...it's complicated) and one of them is gay. I would very much like to believe that my rep of a marginalized person avoids or subverts stereotypes and problematic tropes. BUT I'm obviously not a gay teenage boy. If you're looking for books that take a deep dive into LGBT+ experiences and identities, consider reading #ownvoices first. Oh look, here's a list. https://www.goodreads.com/list/show/1...

  5. 5 out of 5

    Jane

    The Art of Escaping is a tricky one for me to review. Author Erin Callahan has done a spectacular job of creating characters who are well-developed and real. I cared about main characters Mattie and Will, but I also really liked a lot of the supporting cast here. I often feel like supporting characters in YA books are bland without much personality, but that was not the case here -- even minor characters had some real pizzazz. Unfortunately, I didn't care for the pacing of this book or the way th The Art of Escaping is a tricky one for me to review. Author Erin Callahan has done a spectacular job of creating characters who are well-developed and real. I cared about main characters Mattie and Will, but I also really liked a lot of the supporting cast here. I often feel like supporting characters in YA books are bland without much personality, but that was not the case here -- even minor characters had some real pizzazz. Unfortunately, I didn't care for the pacing of this book or the way the chapters alternated. Some chapters span part of a day, and other times chapters span weeks. I would have have preferred the timeline to run a little more evenly -- at times it felt like stuff just gets skipped over for convenience. I wished that missing time was spent delving into Will's life a bit more, because I would argue that his story is actually the more compelling of the two. As much as I love (love!) alternating perspectives, I really dislike it when they're done unevenly. Here, the true main character is Mattie, and most of the chapters are focused on her story. Every now and then, though, a chapter from Will's perspective is thrown in with no seeming rhyme nor rhythm. This was really frustrating for me, and I think a lot of depth was lost by not balancing the story out between the two characters a bit better. Even with the issues I had with the pacing and balance, this was still a very readable book and the fact that the author made me care about these characters speaks to her talent. I'll definitely be watching for more from Callahan in the future. Thank you to NetGalley and Amberjack Publishing for providing me with a free electronic ARC of this book.

  6. 5 out of 5

    ••Camila Roy••

    RATING: 3.5/5 RATING: 3.5/5 High school senior Mattie is fascinated by Houdini and the art of escaping, so when her only and best friend is gone for the summer, Mattie tracks down the agoraphobic daughter of a famous escapologist and convinces her to become her trainer. As Mattie becomes a successful performer at a quirky local club, she keeps her passion a secret, both because she knows her parents wouldn't allow it and because of what her high school classmates would think. Then there’s Will, wh RATING: 3.5/5 RATING: 3.5/5 High school senior Mattie is fascinated by Houdini and the art of escaping, so when her only and best friend is gone for the summer, Mattie tracks down the agoraphobic daughter of a famous escapologist and convinces her to become her trainer. As Mattie becomes a successful performer at a quirky local club, she keeps her passion a secret, both because she knows her parents wouldn't allow it and because of what her high school classmates would think. Then there’s Will, who’s also hiding a huge secret that could change everyone’s perspective of him. When Mattie and Will collide, they’ll begin an awkward friendship based on secrecy and mutual understanding. Together they’ll practice the art of escaping. This was quiet enjoyable. It ended up being more about friendship than anything else and I liked it. Maggie and Will were fun and easy to relate to. I wish there had been a bigger resolution at the end. Open endings are great, but, in this case I can’t help but be sad that I didn’t get more .

  7. 4 out of 5

    shady boots

    Thank you to NetGalley for a free copy of this book. Fair warning to you romance-heads out there, this book has little to none of it, so that might be a turn-off if romance is a big deal breaker for you. Personally, I didn't mind that whatsoever. So many YA books center entirely around romance, but this one was more focused on friendship, character development and of course, escapism. It's pretty clever what the author did with the overall theme of the book. Besides the fact that the protagonist, Thank you to NetGalley for a free copy of this book. Fair warning to you romance-heads out there, this book has little to none of it, so that might be a turn-off if romance is a big deal breaker for you. Personally, I didn't mind that whatsoever. So many YA books center entirely around romance, but this one was more focused on friendship, character development and of course, escapism. It's pretty clever what the author did with the overall theme of the book. Besides the fact that the protagonist, Mattie, finds her passion in escapology, most of the characters in this book had something they wanted to escape from. Like Will, our other protagonist, wants to escape from having to come out to everyone in his life, and Miyu, who wants to escape her past. As someone who wants to escape from reality practically every day of my life, I couldn't help but relate to them. But in the end, we all know the message; we can't escape forever. Eventually we'll have to face things head on. I really loved Mattie as a main character. She was witty, intelligent, and definitely very relatable. I also couldn't help but be inspired by how insistent she was at pursuing her passion. She meets Miyu, a thirty-something woman who is the daughter of an escape artist that Mattie aspires to be, and Mattie never really became a whiny brat under Miyu's strict, no-bullshit guidance. Of course she complained here and there, but they were reasonable considering the crazy ways Miyu pushed Mattie in her training. In-between each of the chapters, we get little diary--or rather, "miary"--entries that show us a brief glimpse at the story of Akiko Miyake, Miyu's mother, before and after her death. These were actually written by Miyu, and I'm glad that these were included throughout the book because Miyu herself is a very closed-off person, a hermit with an impenetrable guard that rarely ever gets lowered. These entries were quite useful in fleshing her out more as a character. And then there's Will, our other protagonist, the closeted jock struggling to come out. Truth be told, I didn't like him as much as I should have. I definitely related to him for obvious reasons, and he was charming, but I related to Mattie a lot more than I did with him. Mattie just seemed like more of a believable teenager to me in a way, because the way Will talks sometimes... I just don't buy it, lol. He'd say "abso-tive-ly" and "posi-lute-ly" and I'd always be like.... "Dude, nobody says that." I just couldn't help but cringe at times when it came to him. Maybe his mother rubbed off on him? Cause his mother was like, ten times less believable as a human being with the way she talked. Her dialogue was just so unrealistic in my opinion that I had to suspend my disbelief a little bit whenever she was around. If there are any human beings who actually talk like her in day-to-day life, I have yet to encounter any. Nonetheless, this was a very solid and entertaining book. I loved the themes, the light-hearted humor, the characters, and it's always nice to read a YA book where friendship took precedence over romance. It's "Read Now" on NetGalley, so I'd strongly suggest grabbing yourself a copy.

  8. 5 out of 5

    E.

    I received a free copy of this book from NetGalley I thought so long about a sufficient review for this book but all what comes to my mind is ‘so so good’, ‘I love it so much’, and ‘I want to read it again!!’ Which is amazing because I don’t usually feel the need to reread things but, yeah, not good enough for a review. So, I’m gonna try something new! And maybe I’ll add more after I reread it possibly in the near future... What this book made me FEEL?? ✨like sun rays are shining on my face through I received a free copy of this book from NetGalley I thought so long about a sufficient review for this book but all what comes to my mind is ‘so so good’, ‘I love it so much’, and ‘I want to read it again!!’ Which is amazing because I don’t usually feel the need to reread things but, yeah, not good enough for a review. So, I’m gonna try something new! And maybe I’ll add more after I reread it possibly in the near future... What this book made me FEEL?? ✨like sun rays are shining on my face through really dark clouds ✨like I were dreaming ✨so so motivated to find something I LOVE and start DOING IT ✨also, motivated to open up to people ✨like, no matter what, I will find my place in the world ✨so so AMAZED by the escapology!! It’s such a niche subject I’m glad this book gave me a possibility to get to LOVE it!! What this book have that I LOVED?? ✨Mattie!! She’s so complex and she pursues her goal even though she’s So Scared!! And it influenced so many people including me!! ✨Will! At first I thought he’s just another privileged boy but I ended up feeling his fears, his growth, his fears again!! ✨woman in a position of mentor!! ✨Miyu is allowed to be complex and not perfect and still be a great mentor!! ✨how the legend became human ✨nicknames!!! or rather stage names!! ✨chosen family trope ✨but also really interesting born family dynamics ✨great parallels between Mattie and Will ✨the parallels still acknowledge how different their situation are ✨no focus on love life ✨character development! They all gained so much and went a really long way throughout this story! ✨great representation of mental illnesses! I can’t say much about Miyu’s agoraphobia but Mattie’s anxiety and her brother’s depression really connected with me and I related a lot ✨coming out scenes are so well-done! I won’t say too much about it so I won’t spoil it but it was great! ✨I loved the use of diary entries and text messages! ✨the writing style!! I was turning pages so fast!! ✨I thought I’m gonna go through it just turning pages and smiling at my phone but in the end I couldn't hold it and teared up at the last pages __________________________ insta | twitter | blog | booksirens | duolingo

  9. 5 out of 5

    Bernadette

    3.5 Stars The Art of Escaping by Erin Callahan is a YA novel whose protagonist is a plain Jane named Mattie and her friends Stella, Will and Frankie. Mattie doesn’t fit in with the other students at her school, except for one friend named Stella. Mattie is a witty teen with a strange interest called Escapology. She becomes obsessed with Akiko Miyaki, a legendary escapologist, sort of the female Harry Houdini. Mattie tracks down Akiko’s daughter Miyu. Miyu is leading who leads a reclusive life du 3.5 Stars The Art of Escaping by Erin Callahan is a YA novel whose protagonist is a plain Jane named Mattie and her friends Stella, Will and Frankie. Mattie doesn’t fit in with the other students at her school, except for one friend named Stella. Mattie is a witty teen with a strange interest called Escapology. She becomes obsessed with Akiko Miyaki, a legendary escapologist, sort of the female Harry Houdini. Mattie tracks down Akiko’s daughter Miyu. Miyu is leading who leads a reclusive life due to agoraphobia. Will is the stereotypical high school jock, a good-looking basketball player with the requisite pretty girlfriend and lots of friends. Will and Mattie end up meeting, and spending a summer together. At the heart of the story is a deal made by Will and Mattie, a deal where they tell each other a secret about themselves. Mattie doesn’t want anyone to know that she is practicing escapology for fear that people will think she is weirder than they already do; she also fears her parents will stop her. Will’s secret is far more consequential and life-altering. It seemed that Will had finally found to whom he can unburden himself. He develops such a kinship with Mattie, but incorrectly believes that she doesn’t care what people think. Through her new hobby, Mattie is able to overcome the fear of other's opinions. Interspersed in the story are diary-type entries by Miyu about her famed mother which give some insight into why escapology is so interesting to Mattie. The Art of Escaping is a lovely story about friendship. Mattie and Will are gems. Will’s language was problematic for me however. He speaks as if it was 1940, using language like “hotsy totsy,” “noggin,” “cat’s meow” and “absotively and posolutely.” I just can’t see a high school boy speaking in that manner. I was also annoyed by the hackneyed jokes about Jehovah’s Witnesses. The book was an enjoyable read and I’m sure I’ve never read about escapology before so that aspect was interesting. Thank you to NetGalley, Amberjack Publishing and Ms. Callahan for allowing me to read the ARC.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Lucy Banks

    I received a copy of this book, in exchange for an honest review. Refreshingly upbeat, humorous exploration of teenage friendship and escapology! There are a lot of YA books out there that often feel heavy-handed, particularly when dealing with issues such as sexuality. Thus, it's refreshing to read a novel that explores the importance of friendship in the teen years, and the impact of coming out to the people around you, without getting too weighty or serious. There are two protagonists in this b I received a copy of this book, in exchange for an honest review. Refreshingly upbeat, humorous exploration of teenage friendship and escapology! There are a lot of YA books out there that often feel heavy-handed, particularly when dealing with issues such as sexuality. Thus, it's refreshing to read a novel that explores the importance of friendship in the teen years, and the impact of coming out to the people around you, without getting too weighty or serious. There are two protagonists in this book; Mattie, a sassy girl with a burning desire to be an escapologist, and Will, a typical jock with a dream girlfriend and a rather big secret. Mattie stalks Miyu, a 30-something agoraphobic, because she's the daughter of a famous escapologist, and holds the secrets that can help Mattie achieve her dreams. In a series of brutal challenges, she teaches Mattie how to perform the best trick of all - escaping from restraints when trapped underwater. Mattie adores her new skills, but is terrified of performing on stage; so much so that she refuses to confide in anyone about what she's doing. However, one night Will is in the audience, and bam... the secret is out. In a demonstration of 'mutually assured destruction', Will promises to keep her secret safe, by sharing his own secret. Despite dating Betsy, one of the hottest girls in school, he's actually gay. In the spirit of protecting one another's secret identities, they become friends. There's a great cast of other characters in the book too. I liked Mattie's quirky friend Stella, and Frankie, the boy genius who skipped two grades. Probably the best aspect for me was the dialogue. This book is full of sass, and in a totally authentic, non-cliched way too. It made the characters feel very rounded and authentic. In conclusion, I very much enjoyed this - and would recommend it!

  11. 5 out of 5

    BadassCmd

    "Good-looking boys who play sports and get good grades can get away with murder. You know, as long as no one knows they’re gay." The description of this book first intrigued me, but when I started it, I wasn't sure if I'd really relate to and like either Mattie or Will. But I did. I ended up enjoying this book far more than I ever anticipated. And this Review is going to be much longer than I thought it would be. When I retell the story of this book out loud it sounds so weird. And the reason for "Good-looking boys who play sports and get good grades can get away with murder. You know, as long as no one knows they’re gay." The description of this book first intrigued me, but when I started it, I wasn't sure if I'd really relate to and like either Mattie or Will. But I did. I ended up enjoying this book far more than I ever anticipated. And this Review is going to be much longer than I thought it would be. When I retell the story of this book out loud it sounds so weird. And the reason for that is mainly that the whole story builds on Mattie and Will connecting and then becoming friends because each of them has this huge secret that they’ve never told anyone else before: Will is gay. And Mattie... has an unusual hobby. The only thing that bothered me while reading the book was the fact that it felt like those two things were put on the same level. I mostly understood why Mattie didn’t want to show this part of herself and this thing she really cares about to the people close to her. She spends a lot of time reflecting on her fears and reasons, so it doesn’t feel like it’s just a plot point to connect those two characters. And of course it’s fully understandable to think that her parents would never allow her to continue to NEARLY DIE every day. So the hypothetical 18-year-old escapologist-me would have probably kept that secret the same way real-me kept her sexuality to herself, too. It still just shouldn’t sound like it’s as huge of a burden to live this double life as it was for Will to be in the closet. BUT, and this is a big BUT: I was really impressed that exactly this concern was later addressed in the book. (view spoiler)[ There is a moment where Will talks about how his life will look from the point he first comes out: "I’m facing an endless line of people assuming I’m something I’m not." He explains to her that he will have to continue to come out again and again in every new area of his life and that he can never know if the next person he has to come out will be one that won’t be okay with him. And Mattie, as a person who might have been afraid to be judged and called weird for what she loves but ultimately could not have known what it actually means to come out, comes to understand what had bothered me the whole time before: "I finally saw the fundamental difference between our secrets— no matter how strange people thought my hobby was, it would never threaten to knock me down the ladder of privilege." That whole talk was done really, really well. (hide spoiler)] Also, I’ve seen here on Goodreads that the author took note of critiques like this from early reviewers and worked on the story accordingly before the final publication, which is a really great thing to do. So big kudos to that. Overall: I found myself very invested in Mattie’s training and performances. I found myself loving the whole subject of stage personas and what they can mean to different people. I also loved Will’s and Mattie’s friendship, no matter how weird the whole thing sounded in the beginning. Usually I don't like when the same situation is told more than once in a book. But in this case I even liked reading their first 'real meeting' from both the MC's perspectives. And besides Will and Mattie there are a few more very cool side characters and interesting settings. The plot is mainly focuses on Mattie’s story, which gives the book an adventurous vibe with the training and her growing through her art and kind of connecting to her hero, instead of it being a common high school story. Still, in the end it is Will’s story that affects both of their ‘ordinary’ lives more. While Will made mistakes and I don’t want to excuse what he did, I’m really happy everything turned out fairly well and with a positive prospects for the future for all of them. (And (view spoiler)[my boy Will got to kiss a boy, so yeeeeey! (hide spoiler)] ) ARC provided by the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. [Review on Tumblr]

  12. 4 out of 5

    Kate Vocke (bookapotamus)

    Oh, how I do NOT miss high school! I really enjoyed this book - It is so fun, and kept me entertained throughout the whole thing! There were some seriously nail-biting moments with daredevil Mattie, and I can totally see this becoming a movie that I would go see in a second! Mattie is a high school junior who has some pretty quirky aspirations of becoming an escapologist. She's obsessed with Houdini and the like, but especially Akiko - an elite escapologist gone way before her time. But Mattie is Oh, how I do NOT miss high school! I really enjoyed this book - It is so fun, and kept me entertained throughout the whole thing! There were some seriously nail-biting moments with daredevil Mattie, and I can totally see this becoming a movie that I would go see in a second! Mattie is a high school junior who has some pretty quirky aspirations of becoming an escapologist. She's obsessed with Houdini and the like, but especially Akiko - an elite escapologist gone way before her time. But Mattie is determined to find Akiko's daughter and find out as much as she can. All the while, no-0ne in her life knows her secrets or desires to become this really cool performance artist. Not her parents or her family, or even her best, closest friend. The story also has some snippets of Akikos past, the life she led, and the birth of her daughter, giving you some insight of the life of this mysterious performer and her equally closed-off daughter. We also meet Will, another one with some secrets, and several other really cool high school kids who are so well-developed, mature but fun. It pains me to think of how tough high school was, and how hard it is for kids just t be themselves. The art of escapology is front and center, through training and Mattie's stage performances that literally have you holding your breath! But the art of escape is evident is other ways, with a lot of hiding from reality and fear of being found out. This book is such a delight and hope it gets the attention it deserves.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Alja Katuin

    This is going to be one of the best coming of age books of this year and I’m stoked to be the one reading it before it even hits the shelves. Review will follow shortly, I need to process this bit of awesomeness. -- I really wanted to do one of those big and awesome reviews because I believe this one really deserves those big and elaborate reviews.. But my mind has been drifting sooo much, I can't even if i tried.. So it's going to be a bit short, but I do hope to get my enthousiasm for this book This is going to be one of the best coming of age books of this year and I’m stoked to be the one reading it before it even hits the shelves. Review will follow shortly, I need to process this bit of awesomeness. -- I really wanted to do one of those big and awesome reviews because I believe this one really deserves those big and elaborate reviews.. But my mind has been drifting sooo much, I can't even if i tried.. So it's going to be a bit short, but I do hope to get my enthousiasm for this book into this review.. Mattie is one of those super awesome and relatable main characters.. She's funny, selfconscious, loving and has this one awesome passion of hers.. She has her best friend, who is friends with people she kind of likes? I guess? But basically, she just has her best friend. Quality over quantity, right? When her best friend goes to boarding summer school, practically leaving Mattie alone the whole summer, Mattie decides she'll have to keep herself busy before her anxiety runs out of control.. She decides to seek out Miyu; the daughter of a world-famous escape artist who, since her mothers passing, hasn't voluntarily talked to anyone or left the house.. Miyu takes Mattie (Girl Scout) under her wing and starts training her.. Picking locks, locking her up in boxes. Those kind of things. And when she's ready she performs.. And when she performs? She's a different person. She's strong and independent and she pushes through.. She doesn't let her anxiety get the best of her and the crowd loves her. During this summer Mattie turns into this amazing escapologist and with her, she changes her friends too.. Will (with two L's) becomes a whole new person, her brother.. Her family.. Everybody. And that is awesome. Read this book if you're looking for a feel-good story, this will not dissapoint!

  14. 4 out of 5

    Carrie (brightbeautifulthings)

    I received a free e-ARC through NetGalley from the publishers at Amberjack Publishing. I requested this book based on a recommendation from Roberta at Offbeat YA, who had a chance to beta read it. Check out her blog for a post talking about that experience or her exclusive cover reveal! When Mattie is faced with a summer without her best friend, she screws up her courage to ask the cantankerous, reclusive daughter of renowned escapologist, Akiko Miyake, to be her mentor. Soon, Mattie is immersed I received a free e-ARC through NetGalley from the publishers at Amberjack Publishing. I requested this book based on a recommendation from Roberta at Offbeat YA, who had a chance to beta read it. Check out her blog for a post talking about that experience or her exclusive cover reveal! When Mattie is faced with a summer without her best friend, she screws up her courage to ask the cantankerous, reclusive daughter of renowned escapologist, Akiko Miyake, to be her mentor. Soon, Mattie is immersed in a world of lock picking and underwater escape tanks, but her braver alter-ego is threatened when Will, a popular basketball player from school, witnesses one of her escapes. Worried that he’ll tell everyone, including her parents, about her strange hobby, Mattie and Will strike up an uneasy friendship based on mutual secrecy and learn that sometimes, our secret selves are the truest ones of all. This is contemporary YA very well done. Callahan is a solid story-teller, and the novel is well-written and well-paced with a cast of interesting, believable characters (and some LGBTQ representation). Most of the tension in the novel is self-inflicted from Mattie’s insistence on keeping her new life a secret, but I enjoy plots that don’t take drama to extreme heights. Mattie and Will feel like people I could have known in high school, and their problems deal mainly with acceptance–self and otherwise. One of the major themes is authenticity, and that’s a great angle to explore in YA fiction. Mattie is frequently preoccupied by this question: how to be a real person in a world where teenagers are expected to do extracurricular activities just to pad their resumes. It’s the Holden Caufield question approach on a much less obnoxious level (I can hardly stand The Catcher in the Rye, even while acknowledging its merits). I remember being very concerned about this in high school, and it makes Mattie easy to relate to. She’s so middle-ground that it’s refreshing. Mattie isn’t the best student or the worst, but she has a few things that she really loves. Will’s chapters were a little more trying for me. I understand his love for twenties slang, but it’s distracting in the way it litters his narrative. I don’t know if this is a thing that actually bothers teenagers, or if I’m just an old woman stuck in a younger person’s body, but it tries too hard to sound hip. That aside, I like Will, and I like his friendship arc with Mattie even more. I also enjoy the resistance toward mean high school girl cliches; even the minor characters feel well-rounded, and there are no flatly wicked pretty girls trying to ruin everyone’s lives. There’s barely a hint of romance throughout the whole novel because the characters are distracted by much bigger questions than “does that person like me.” Mattie and Will’s friendship, and their secrets, provide them an outlet for testing out new, better, and more authentic selves, and it’s a fascinating and well-drawn process. They give each other the space to become who they really are. Having the courage to be yourself is a major part of growing up, and Callahan’s portrayal is realistic, sometimes funny, and often heart-warming. Plus, who doesn’t love a good escape act? I’d absolutely recommend it for fans of the genre, and I’m going to need a physical copy for my library when it’s published. I review regularly at brightbeautifulthings.tumblr.com. --- If you're on NetGalley, please consider reading this book! It's wonderful! Roberta at Offbeat YA also has an awesome cover reveal and a post about beta reading! RTC in June.

  15. 5 out of 5

    charlotte,

    Galley provided by publisher Rep: gay side character Perhaps the reason that this book disappointed me so much was that I was expecting it to be wlw. But it wasn't. And instead, I got a cishet character who kept implying that keeping a secret about escapology was in any way comparable to being in the closet. But I should back up a little. The Art of Escaping tells the story of Mattie, who is obsessed with old escapologists such as Harry Houdini and Dorothy Dietrich. Living in the same town as Matti Galley provided by publisher Rep: gay side character Perhaps the reason that this book disappointed me so much was that I was expecting it to be wlw. But it wasn't. And instead, I got a cishet character who kept implying that keeping a secret about escapology was in any way comparable to being in the closet. But I should back up a little. The Art of Escaping tells the story of Mattie, who is obsessed with old escapologists such as Harry Houdini and Dorothy Dietrich. Living in the same town as Mattie is Miyu, the daugther of an escapologist herself, and Mattie decides that she's going to get Miyu to teach her escapology. She also decides that this is a deep dark secret which no one must find out about. (Yeah, this bit lost me too. Because what exactly are going to be the repercussions of doing escapology? Are you going to be ostracised from your family and friends? Is anyone really going to give a monkey's? Probably not.) One night, she's performing, and sees Will, a schoolmate, in the audience. And this is the bit that annoyed me. They swap secrets in some kind of "mutually assured destruction" deal. Mattie's secret is that she does escapology. Will's secret is that he's gay. And to be blunt: these are not nearly comparable. In no way does keeping a secret about escapology measure up to keeping a secret about your sexuality. Like I said earlier, is someone finding out you do escapology possibly going to result in ostracisation, some form of abuse, or whatever else you might think of? No. It's not. So reading a book that for 81% (I counted) implied that they were comparable was a bit of a slap in the face. And I know that, yeah, she has an epiphany late on that perhaps Will's secret is a little bigger than hers, but I really didn't have the patience for it given I'd had to read almost all the book with her blandly asserting that this wasn't the case, that they were comparable. Besides all that, there were other aspects which annoyed me. (One note: I can't work out if I was annoyed by these things because the whole "comparing escapology to being in the closet" riled me up That Much, or if these were genuinely annoying things, so. There's that.) Firstly, Mattie gives off distinct "not like other girls" vibes, despite not actually saying those words aloud, and she's fairly sanctimonious about those "other girls". Secondly, everyone in this book goddamn whines. I swear to god, every other speaking verb was whined and it made me so frustrated. If I could be bothered, I would count the number of times each character was described as having whined, but Mattie was by far the worst of them. Just please, find some synonyms or something. Or just use said. No one notices if you overuse said. The final points are mostly surrounding Will (my favourite character, it was an absolute travesty that he only got one chapter for every four or five Mattie got). Mainly, I am so tired of having high school age gay characters in a relationship with college age characters. I know Will was 18, but he was only just 18, and an 18 year old with a 21 year old? Makes me fairly uncomfortable. I'm 21 and I wouldn't even consider 18 year olds, that's just creepy. There's also a comment that Will makes at one point about someone being "an easily identifiable member of team-QUILTBAG". Firstly, what is people's problem with avoiding LGBT as a descriptor? Why am I having to read ""QUILTBAG"" in an actual published book? Secondly, way to stereotype I guess. An "easily identifiable member". What makes them "easily identifiable"? Because unless they're wearing a gay pride flag or holding hands or something, seems to me that means there's stereotyping going on. Finally, there's a comment that Mattie makes within the first couple of chapters, when the guidance counsellor is asking her about joining school societies. "Gay Straight Alliance?" "I'm apolitical." Nice to know that LGBT people's existence is still considered political in 2018, I guess. At least Will wasn't outed for the angst though, right?

  16. 5 out of 5

    Lia

    I don't know how I feel about this book. I don't know how I feel about this book.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Camille DeAngelis

    Things I am sick of in YA: 1. romance 2. romance 3. romance Things I want to read more of in YA: 1. nuanced, complex platonic-love friendships 2. personal growth in unpredictable ways 3. laugh-out-loud dialogue 4. snarky, spot-on social commentary 5. ESCAPE ARTISTS!! This novel is such a delight, and not just for the ongoing Escapology 101 lesson. Mattie has the guts to reinvent herself AND she refuses to give up even when every muscle in her body is screaming for it. The way the escape scenes are written Things I am sick of in YA: 1. romance 2. romance 3. romance Things I want to read more of in YA: 1. nuanced, complex platonic-love friendships 2. personal growth in unpredictable ways 3. laugh-out-loud dialogue 4. snarky, spot-on social commentary 5. ESCAPE ARTISTS!! This novel is such a delight, and not just for the ongoing Escapology 101 lesson. Mattie has the guts to reinvent herself AND she refuses to give up even when every muscle in her body is screaming for it. The way the escape scenes are written feels very realistic—funny how many thoughts you can think in a few seconds to two-and-a-half minutes, right?! I love the friendships in this story—how the characters evolve out of old friendships/romantic entanglements and into new and richer ones feels so true to life. Even the mean girls have depth, as do Mattie's depressed video-game-addicted brother and his underachieving friends. I also appreciate that you really get a sense of the main characters' parents as individuals with colorful interests and backstories (I am, after all, not much younger than they are!), since lots of parents in YA novels are basically stock characters. The history of escapology (both real and fictional) is wonderful, as is the narrative framework and "footnote" chapters—very cleverly done. The only thing that could've made me love it more is if the characters didn't eat so many animals.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Althea | themoonwholistens ☾

    // Thanks to Amberjack Publishing and Netgalley for the ARC to review // “Real secrets weren’t sweet nothings you whispered in your arm candy’s ear.” ⟹ MY BLOG ⟸ ⟹ SUPPORT ME ON KO-FI ⟸ *All of my reviews are as spoiler-free as possible unless states otherwise* I am such a sucker for stories with good characterization. I just need to say that even though I was not a fan of the plot and all at first, the characters really intrigued me and I was very much pleased with their development by the end o // Thanks to Amberjack Publishing and Netgalley for the ARC to review // “Real secrets weren’t sweet nothings you whispered in your arm candy’s ear.” ⟹ MY BLOG ⟸ ⟹ SUPPORT ME ON KO-FI ⟸ *All of my reviews are as spoiler-free as possible unless states otherwise* I am such a sucker for stories with good characterization. I just need to say that even though I was not a fan of the plot and all at first, the characters really intrigued me and I was very much pleased with their development by the end of the book. ~ the plot did not intrigue me enough at first which I think was mainly due to the fact that I expected whose plot revolved more on, literally, "The Art of Escaping". I expected it to deal with different issues and topics and sadly, that was not what I got. It felt like your typical modern teenage story at first. It started slow but was also able to pick itself up about halfway. It was greatly amusing though and I believe that it is something that would appeal to younger teenagers since it seems like this was the target audience the author had in mind while writing this. I'm not saying that the actual plot wasn't good, but it was not the plot that I was looking for. ~ I love the characterization. I thought that the characters would also be following the steroetypical template. Every character had a life in them, no matter how ridiculous thir names sounded or how absurd they were acting. Our main character, with a snarky attitude, seemed to be against the world or have the world against her and I can't help but feel sorrow for her, but not pity, which I think is a very fine line that a lot of authors forget was there in the first place. I felt bad for her without pitying her, so she still appeared strong, in a way, to me. ~ the excerpts before each chapter was a big part of what gave the whole story depth and meaning. It tied together the story more and the chapter titles were really creative for the writer. They honestly balanced out the ridiculousness that might have been happening in the plot itself and put the plot on the right path again. They were most certainly not random and you can understand how the author put a purpose to each one that was placed there. ~ the writing style was not bad, I just don't think it was meant to appeal to me. It had a light tone, which was unexpected, for me, because of the title. It had good morals and things to relate to, while still being able to maintain a decent amount of creativity. I was ready for some hardcore-heart-pounding book. It is a potentionally good coming-of-age story and this is something that those along the lower end of the age range should try picking this up.

  19. 4 out of 5

    anna (½ of readsrainbow)

    I received an ARC from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. The Art of Escaping is trying to be a good book and that’s the best I can say about it, to be honest. It’s trying out a lot of things to catch the reader’s attention, sadly forgetting the most important one: actually good writing. So we have two narrators instead of one, the second one being a minor character and only getting every fourth or fifth chapter. We have fragments of diaries of the main character’s I received an ARC from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. The Art of Escaping is trying to be a good book and that’s the best I can say about it, to be honest. It’s trying out a lot of things to catch the reader’s attention, sadly forgetting the most important one: actually good writing. So we have two narrators instead of one, the second one being a minor character and only getting every fourth or fifth chapter. We have fragments of diaries of the main character’s hero before each chapter. And I can’t stop thinking we have all those things, to keep us distracted from the fact the book as a whole? Isn’t really that interesting. I had a number of issues with The Art of Escaping, though I think some of them won’t be a problem for other readers - everything is a matter of taste, after all. But personally? I found Mattie, the main character, extremely unlikable, which made reading a torturous experience. Now this is something people might disagree with me on, sure, but let me tell you more about Mattie, so you can decide for yourself. When asked if she would like to join the Gay-Straight Alliance at her school, she replied “she’s apolitical”. Good to know my existence is still considered political… She also manages to give off very strong “not like other girls” vibes, which I can’t believe I had to witness in 2018. But the Thing that made me most angry? The one single thing? Oh boy. Mattie is into escapology. That’s like, the whole premise of the book. Mattie also keeps that interest a secret from all her friends and her family, sneaks around to practice and keeps lying to cover her tracks. All out of fear of? Well I’m not entirely sure, but it seems she thinks she would get hated for being interested in escapology? That’s not even my point, though! Because there’s a scene where Mattie really compares keeping an interest in escapology a secret to keeping being gay a secret… Yeah, you read that right. She really, genuinely thinks those are similar in any way and that repercussions of those secrets getting revealed would be in any way on the same level. I don’t care if she changes her mind near the end of the book. I had to read a story about a character making light of the oppression LGBT people still experience every single day and I am not happy about that. Couple that with mediocre writing and a kind of pointless premise and what do you get? A book I wish I didn’t spend my time reading. Life is just too short, guys.

  20. 4 out of 5

    Alex

    I received an ARC through NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. The Art of Escaping is a young adult novel about finding your passion, focusing on a very unique art: escapology, or escape art. I was intrigued by this book both because the topic sounded like something I’ve never read before, and because I heard that one of the POV characters is gay. This book could have easily been a 5-star read if it wasn't so hard to get into. I really disliked the beginning, but once I pushed through that, I received an ARC through NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. The Art of Escaping is a young adult novel about finding your passion, focusing on a very unique art: escapology, or escape art. I was intrigued by this book both because the topic sounded like something I’ve never read before, and because I heard that one of the POV characters is gay. This book could have easily been a 5-star read if it wasn't so hard to get into. I really disliked the beginning, but once I pushed through that, I adored the rest of it. I'm not really sure whether to tag Will (the gay boy) as a main or side character, because he has his own POV sometimes, but less frequently than the straight girl protag, and mostly in the second half of the book? I'm going to tag him as main, but be aware of this. (I'm tagging the m/m relationship itself as side because it only happens towards the end.) To learn more about what specifically I liked and what I didn't, check out my full review on my blog. warnings: there are some homophobic comments that are all called out in the book.

  21. 4 out of 5

    Rachel

    A copy of this book was provided by NetGalley in exchange for an honest review *Only minor spoilers below* I loved the two main characters! Mattie is such a fun main character and I loved how real she felt. She's so witty and funny in the exact way I love a main character to be, but still manages to be vulnerable and human. Especially during the escape scenes, her emotions are really raw and human. Speaking of escapology, that aspect was so cool! The escape scenes were so cool and realistic that th A copy of this book was provided by NetGalley in exchange for an honest review *Only minor spoilers below* I loved the two main characters! Mattie is such a fun main character and I loved how real she felt. She's so witty and funny in the exact way I love a main character to be, but still manages to be vulnerable and human. Especially during the escape scenes, her emotions are really raw and human. Speaking of escapology, that aspect was so cool! The escape scenes were so cool and realistic that they actually made me scared for Mattie while reading them. It was just such a cool thing to have in a book and I loved watching Mattie get into escapology. But the best part of her training was Miyu. Miyu is that classic, snarky mentor who gives sarcastic nicknames. I'm such a sucker for that kind of thing. She's sort of like if those strong, snarky male leads like Rhysand but if Rhysand was an agoraphobic 30-something woman. I wish that there was more of her in the story. She was such a great character and also had a lot of emotional depth. Will was also a well developed character. I loved how he starts off seeming like a stereotypical joke, but then as he spends more time with Mattie and the readers get to know him better we all find out he's so much more. He was such a sweet, relatable character and I genuinely enjoyed watching him come into his own. He has great character development through the story. Another thing I really enjoyed about this book was how it wasn't heavy-handed with the message it's trying to get across. The themes in the book are certainly there, but it doesn't feel overwhelmingly like the author is pushing anything too much. It still wasn't a perfect book. I found Mattie and Will's chapters were sometimes hard to differentiate at first. Once I got more used to the characters, it was easier. The ending felt a little forced and more like the story just fizzled out rather than concluded. Overall, it was an excellent book and a truly stunning debut. The book was a total breath of fresh air and the characters were well-developed and likable. I'd definitely recommend this book. Rating: 4.5 stars Blog | Bookstagram

  22. 4 out of 5

    Kayla

    I got sent this book in exchange for a honest review, all my opinions are my own and thank you so much to the publishers for sending me this book! In this story we follow Matti who has a hidden hobby, she is interested in escapology. For fun she performs escape acts and nobody knows about this until Will, a popular jock at her school finds out about Matti's obsession and they start to grow close. So I love Escape acts and illusions so I really wanted to read this book and just love it. It's not th I got sent this book in exchange for a honest review, all my opinions are my own and thank you so much to the publishers for sending me this book! In this story we follow Matti who has a hidden hobby, she is interested in escapology. For fun she performs escape acts and nobody knows about this until Will, a popular jock at her school finds out about Matti's obsession and they start to grow close. So I love Escape acts and illusions so I really wanted to read this book and just love it. It's not that I didn't love this book, I just found it less exciting that I thought it was going to be. The characters were pretty dull and not interesting and I just couldn't connect with them. I also really wanted more Escape Tricks because they are discussed a lot throughout this book but not really physically done a lot. I do have to say that the representation of diversity was excellent in this book and I really liked reading about that aspect of the story. Overall it was a quick fast read and I'm sure many would enjoy this and fall for the story, the wait isn't long for this book because it hits shelves on 19th June so definitely pick it up.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Louetta Waters

    I don't normally read YA books, but I ended up enjoying this book far more than I anticipated and I was surprised how quickly I got through the book! There were moments that made me smile and some that brought tears. The Art of Escaping is a young adult novel about not being afraid to find your passion, and friends to share it with. The plot is amazing and the writing flows and is interesting, The Characters are well developed and real. It was nice to watch them grow and develop as the story go I don't normally read YA books, but I ended up enjoying this book far more than I anticipated and I was surprised how quickly I got through the book! There were moments that made me smile and some that brought tears. The Art of Escaping is a young adult novel about not being afraid to find your passion, and friends to share it with. The plot is amazing and the writing flows and is interesting, The Characters are well developed and real. It was nice to watch them grow and develop as the story goes on. This story is sweet and poignant, and is a must-read!

  24. 5 out of 5

    Ashley

    I'm going to give this 3.5 stars There were some things I LOVED in this book, but I also have a couple of things holding me back from giving it a 4. Once I reached the end of the book, I was loving it. I loved the characters, how far they had come, and basically the entire arc the story took. I skimmed a couple of reviews directly after finishing, and I remembered all the grievances I had at the beginning of the novel and had to knock it down half a star. Things I loved: How passionate everyone i I'm going to give this 3.5 stars There were some things I LOVED in this book, but I also have a couple of things holding me back from giving it a 4. Once I reached the end of the book, I was loving it. I loved the characters, how far they had come, and basically the entire arc the story took. I skimmed a couple of reviews directly after finishing, and I remembered all the grievances I had at the beginning of the novel and had to knock it down half a star. Things I loved: How passionate everyone is about the things they love Dissecting of high school culture and tropes the very ~cool~ parents and authority figures/mentors the friendships Things that could have been better: The timeline and switch in perspective, especially at the front half of the book Some weird statements by a few of the characters that were unnecessary/didn't add anything to the book I kind of hated Will at the beginning of the book. The way he was talking about people and his weird affliction for 20s slang really rubbed me the wrong way. Only until I realized he wasn't actually an asshole, did I come around to liking his character. (view spoiler)[ I will say that what he did to his girlfriend, especially how he dragged out telling her at the end of the book, was incredibly shitty and made me hate him a little bit again. I understand that he didn't want to come out and that he was afraid, but he really should have broken up with her earlier. Even if it didn't mean he told her the truth. (hide spoiler)] Sometimes it is hard for me to distinguish between bad characters or just stupid teen behavior, and I think in his case he just is a dumb teen sometimes. I was a big fan of Mattie all the way from the start to the finish. I especially loved her relationship with Miyu. It was so heartwarming, and they really both helped each other grow in their own way. Ugh this book is going to make me want to get into lock picking. It's just so freaking COOL! I didn't think I would nerd out over escapology as much as I am, but I am now a total fan. I loved how passionate she was about it and how she let it change her life. Most of her performances had me freaking the fuck out. I was so tense, but also SO ENGAGED with the story. My heart was beating so fast every freaking time. Those are my favorite scenes I read in the whole book. I wish I could find a speakeasy with regular hecklers that will buy me free drinks every Friday night. I was completely confused about what the hell was going on with the timeline in the beginning. It smoothed out at the second half of the book because it was more linear (if I'm remembering correctly), but the front half was jumping around like nobody's business. Don't get me wrong, I love a complicated timeline if it serves a purpose. I don't really know what we gained by being confused about when certain events took place? This is usually a better fit for a mystery or thriller novel, but in this case, I really could have used some dates or clues as to when certain chapters were happening. One of the reviews I read pointed out Mattie turning down joining the gay-straight alliance at her school because she's "apolitical" which seemed really weird and unnecessary? I don't really understand 1. what it has to do with being apolitical and 2. why it was included in the book at all? It just really stood out to me as being something that did not need to be there. I really wish I could give this a higher score because there were SO MANY things I loved about it, but there were a couple of shortcomings that I really can't ignore if I'm going to give it an honest review.

  25. 5 out of 5

    palina

    4.25/5 First off, can I just say that even just the premise of this book is so entertaining? This story follows Mattie who in the summer before her senior year gets involved in her secret love for escapology and develops a secret identity for herself as a performer. When someone from her school finds out her secret, she thinks her world is going to crumble but it turns out that he has a secret of his own. The book is just so full of quirky characters, the problems that come with graduating, and 4.25/5 First off, can I just say that even just the premise of this book is so entertaining? This story follows Mattie who in the summer before her senior year gets involved in her secret love for escapology and develops a secret identity for herself as a performer. When someone from her school finds out her secret, she thinks her world is going to crumble but it turns out that he has a secret of his own. The book is just so full of quirky characters, the problems that come with graduating, and the importance of standing out and embracing your passions. It was so refreshing to see such an exciting interest being explored and I think overlapped really well with the discomfort the Mattie feels by being different in her high school. I really enjoyed this book. There were so many good parts and meaningful moments throughout the story! I started off by writing down all the bits that I connected with and by the end I had so many pages just full of quotes. Honestly, books that focus so much on finding your identity and learning to deal with the difference between high school and university usually end up leaving me feeling unfulfilled. But this book managed to tie everything off so well. Mattie is really well developed, grows a lot as a character as she learns how to deal with her anxieties and insecurities, and actually feels real . Also the descriptions of her escapology acts were so cool, I don't know how accurate they were but they were so much fun to read about. I really enjoyed this book. I gotta say it was a bit of a slow start for me, or rather it took me a while to properly enjoy it. The characters are fun and unique but honestly I hated one of them for the majority of the book. When he was just in the scenes narrated by Mattie it wasn't too bad but in the couple of chapters from his point of view oh my GOD. The tricky thing with writing very unique and different characters is that there is a fine line by depicting it as just uniqueness vs. superiority for being unique. They all did find the "average" person's interests very trivial which is fine but he came off as feeling so above everyone else just because he didn't care about what they did. Also in one chapter he kept pulling the "not like other girls" trope which I honestly thought we were past at this point. He did get better but nevertheless he just left a pretty bad impression on me. It was such a "i'm different and i'm so superior because of that" that I literally could not handle. Just go enjoy your jazz my dude But yeah aside from that little rant, he got much better as a character. And the whole unique aspect wasn't annoying(?) which I was very surprised by. Mattie's uniqueness didn't annoy me at all since it was a lot more oriented towards following your passion and finding happiness in your differences, which I actually really ended up enjoying. Also the descriptions of her escapology acts were so freaking cool, I don't know how accurate they were but they were so much fun to read about. In the end, very entertaining and very worthwhile. I received an ARC of this book from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review

  26. 4 out of 5

    Derek Milman

    The Art of Escaping isn't just an utterly unique story about a teenager obsessed with Houdini and the art of escape, but it's also about the ways we simultaneously escape into ourselves, and from each other. And it's about young people, grasping for a past they never really knew, trying to find their way in a present they can't quite figure out yet. At the heart of this transfixing tale, written by an author herself transfixed by Houdini, Princess Tenko, That's Incredible!, Lovecraft, and a host The Art of Escaping isn't just an utterly unique story about a teenager obsessed with Houdini and the art of escape, but it's also about the ways we simultaneously escape into ourselves, and from each other. And it's about young people, grasping for a past they never really knew, trying to find their way in a present they can't quite figure out yet. At the heart of this transfixing tale, written by an author herself transfixed by Houdini, Princess Tenko, That's Incredible!, Lovecraft, and a host of other delectable things, is a beautifully crafted tale of friendship, secrets, and the bonds that tie us together. The metaphor, always presented with sharp, sophisticated humor, and a lot of heart, becomes more enriched, and emotionally volatile, as the story progresses. The small Rhode Island town forms a twinkling, immersive backdrop to the unexpected friendship that arises between Mattie and Will, both bound by different secrets, and a tremulous kind of loneliness. The LGBTQ themes are presented with honesty and complexity, and the dual POV makes for an interesting structure. This is a wonderfully nuanced YA contemporary, meant to be savored sweetly, as all its precious details get unbound, one by one.

  27. 5 out of 5

    Ingrid

    Got this book from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review The Art of Escaping by Erin Callahan is a feel-good book that will not let you down. It has amazing characters in it. With background stories. The mean girls have depth, the depressed video gaming brother and his friends do aswell. There is so many to say about the characters, but I don't want to be the one that spoils the book. :) And let's not forget the amazing Mattie. She reinvents herself while every muscle in her body is yelling Got this book from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review The Art of Escaping by Erin Callahan is a feel-good book that will not let you down. It has amazing characters in it. With background stories. The mean girls have depth, the depressed video gaming brother and his friends do aswell. There is so many to say about the characters, but I don't want to be the one that spoils the book. :) And let's not forget the amazing Mattie. She reinvents herself while every muscle in her body is yelling to her to give up. I also love love love the friendships in this book. Erin has written in a style that feels realistic. I especially felt this while reading the escape scenes. She has written it in a fast paced style, which I can really appreciate. I can highly recommend this book to everyone that would like to read a feel-good book! I promise it won't let you down.

  28. 5 out of 5

    Roberta R. (Offbeat YA)

    Rated 4.5 really. Excerpt from my review - originally published at Offbeat YA. Pros: Packed with secrets, danger, fun, friendship, unusual sidekicks and witty remarks. A heart-warming journey toward a place where one belongs. Cons: Will's stream of consciousness sounds a bit too sophisticated/deliberate for his age. WARNING! There's talk of sex (a first time), but nothing graphic. High-stakes danger. Mild swearing. Will appeal to: Everyone who loves a deep, funny, clever contemporary about friendshi Rated 4.5 really. Excerpt from my review - originally published at Offbeat YA. Pros: Packed with secrets, danger, fun, friendship, unusual sidekicks and witty remarks. A heart-warming journey toward a place where one belongs. Cons: Will's stream of consciousness sounds a bit too sophisticated/deliberate for his age. WARNING! There's talk of sex (a first time), but nothing graphic. High-stakes danger. Mild swearing. Will appeal to: Everyone who loves a deep, funny, clever contemporary about friendship and finding one's calling. First off...DISCLAIMER:I have known Erin Callahan for 4 years now, and as guarded as I am about striking friendships with authors, our relationship has deepened through all this time and via a series of online contacts/collaborations (if I dare call them so) that I detailed in this post. The very book I'm about to review, I got from the hands of Erin herself (the story is recounted here). And yes, that's me in the acknowledgment section 😉. I swear, though, that I'm going to be as honest about this book as I usual strive to be in my reviews. I wouldn't be of any service neither to the author nor to you would-be readers (?) if I didn't. Here goes... TAKING CHANCES You know that feeling when you love something so much, it might end up forcing your hand at becoming visible even if you're scared to death by it? And you have to choose between following your passion - no matter how uncomfortable it makes you feel, or how risky it is - and never coming out of your cave? Well, that's Mattie. And at some point of our life, probably all of us. And that other feeling when you don't fit the mold and you don't want to pretend [anymore] that you do, and you need to live your life in the open, but again, you're scared to death by it? And you have to choose between coming clean - no matter how hard it is - and never being true to yourself? Well, that's Will. And again, at some point of our life, probably all of us. There are two main stories and a unifying theme in TAOE - the need to get up and claim a place for yourself, and the recognition of how terrifying (but exhilarating) it is. This isn't true for the main characters only, but also for the ones who rotate around them, though to different degrees. And appropriately, it's not like everything gets wrapped up in a neat little bow in the end. Change doesn't happen overnight. Victories are not forever. As Will says, "If I come out in high school, I still have to come out in college, and then at work. It’s like I’m facing an endless line of people assuming I’m something I’m not." [...] Whole review here.

  29. 5 out of 5

    Justine

    We have Mattie an intelligent and witty seventeen-year-old who hides her passion for magic and escapology from everyone. Even her best friend, Stella, also whom away to a summer boarding school. Mattie left alone seeks the supervision of a famous escape artist in their neighborhood. Or someone related to her. With the help, she became an escapist performer. Mattie now secretly lives and performs as an escapist then discovered by someone who goes to the same school as hers, Will. Mattie was scared We have Mattie an intelligent and witty seventeen-year-old who hides her passion for magic and escapology from everyone. Even her best friend, Stella, also whom away to a summer boarding school. Mattie left alone seeks the supervision of a famous escape artist in their neighborhood. Or someone related to her. With the help, she became an escapist performer. Mattie now secretly lives and performs as an escapist then discovered by someone who goes to the same school as hers, Will. Mattie was scared for the people in school that she will be the pariah if Will tells. But Will assures Mattie that he won’t tell a soul about it but sealing the deal with another secret. This is where it all began… I love the narration of the characters. Told from Mattie, Will and Akiko’s perspectives. (Dashed with a little something in Akiko’s. Hehehe) Characters easily infiltrated my mind. Aside from the narrators, the interaction between the characters. (I am very much fond of Miyu watch out), the entanglement of each other’s intricacies the portrayal is realistically heartfelt. Their development all throughout. The display of how deeply the camaraderie among them formed makes my heart burst into joyful pieces. Oh, it was lovely! I enjoyed the company of Mattie, Will with two L’s, Miyu Miyaki’s sharp tongue, and an Azorean-American Star Trek geek, Frankie. A novel filled with hopeful stories about chasing your passion. Not only with Mattie but with the people around her too. With her brother, Kyle’s predicament and his friends. A coming out story. Dealing with how it is to be closeted all those years, being scared of how people will react to it. Hence title it has the theme of escaping, quite literally and figuratively, their current situations, and taking that step to change. And the literary part it features the art of escaping. This is the first time I’ve read this in a novel in an in-depth manner. I only see performing arts like this on TV. Which by-the-way had my Kindle wet with sweat! The behind-the-scenes and performances were all breathtaking. Surely a read that I couldn’t put it down even for a bathroom break. My eyes were glued in. It was a read that highlights what it is like to be a young adult. And surely young-adults and adults alike will love. But if you’re looking for a YA Romance read this is not for you. It has no hint of romance but centers more on the formation and withholding camaraderie. A solid one sitting read. I highly recommend this book!

  30. 5 out of 5

    Clara

    DNF at 20%. I just can't deal with this book anymore. The escapology part was cool, but literally everything else is just...not for me. Not even remotely. I was drowning in "not like other girls" vibes, and "everything old is automatically better than everything new" vibes, and I'm really not here for either of those. Plus, here are some choice quotes (note: these are from the ARC, and may not be final) from the 20% I did read that really closed the deal for me. I can only say for certain that I g DNF at 20%. I just can't deal with this book anymore. The escapology part was cool, but literally everything else is just...not for me. Not even remotely. I was drowning in "not like other girls" vibes, and "everything old is automatically better than everything new" vibes, and I'm really not here for either of those. Plus, here are some choice quotes (note: these are from the ARC, and may not be final) from the 20% I did read that really closed the deal for me. I can only say for certain that I got more jazzed about the art of escapology than anything else I could remember - even the first time I read The Diary of a Young Girl, after which I refused to leave my room for a week, claiming - like a misguided and pretentious ten-year-old - that I was trying to experience some level of solidarity with poor Anne. I mean...at least she said it was misguided? A conversation about high school extracurriculars: 'Gay-Straight Alliance?' 'I'm apolitical.' That's not really a political issue. Or shouldn't be. I'm really disappointed, because the idea of escapology in a book was really intriguing, and the first 4% or so of the book was really good. The rest of it was just very much not for me.

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