The Art of Escaping by Erin Callahan
Updated: Mar 21, 2019
Rating: 4/5 stars
Genre: YA, Contemporary
Publisher: Amberjack Publishing
Pub. Date: June 19, 2018
Summary: When Mattie’s best friend goes away to boarding school for the summer, she finds herself adrift, not sure what to do with herself and in need of a distraction. She’s always hidden her love of escapology, but she uses this summer alone to seek out Miyu, the daughter of a famous escapologist who tragically lost her life. After Will, a popular jock from her school discovers her secret passion, she fears everything is lost, but within him she finds an ally and supportive friend.
Note: I received an ARC of this book from NetGalley
This was a very enjoyable book about finding your passion and learning to share it. I especially liked that it wasn’t a love story, but rather an ode to friendship. Mattie doesn’t fit in and her feeling of isolation is relatable – especially in light of the fact that she’s not nearly as isolated as she thinks.
My biggest problem with this book was that Mattie at times made kind of cringey comments in terms of Will’s homosexuality. Not only does she say that if he comes out to his friends “they might become better people” (sorry, but gay people don’t exist to make anyone else a better person), but she constantly compares her hiding her passion to him being in the closet (note, not comparable and though it is addressed in the book, it was a little grating throughout the story). While it’s realistic for people to say problematic things (unfortunately :( ), I guess I would have liked to see her called out a little more on it, or even have more of Will’s thoughts on her comments. I did read an early copy, so hopefully some of these issues have been addressed.
But, what I did love was a story about a teen girl finding, exploring and learning to share her love for escapology. Mattie is intelligent, passionate and looks to the future to figure out who she wants to be. There is no romantic subplot for Mattie in this book, I really appreciated that about it. There are undertones of the “not like other girls” trope, but that could just be because I’ve read so many books like that and am reading into it. Generally, there wasn’t much girl on girl hate (a little, but not so much that it felt disingenuous) and I found Mattie's reluctance to share her passion very relatable to my own high school experience, where I was reluctant to share my passions.
I really liked Will, I think because of the early chapter in which he talks about imagining friendships with people, it was a feeling that I didn’t know anyone else experienced, and it was refreshing to see in a book. With Will I definitely got a sense that he was preforming to fit in with social standards, and not just in the sense of his sexuality but also in a sense of his personality. That fear of being able to tell people the things you think and feel because they might judge you for it. It’s something I definitely related to from highschool (though it should be noted that I was never a teenage boy, so I can’t say for certain how accurate it was).
Overall, I thought this was a great book. I read it happily in a short time and as I was coming to the end of it, I had trouble putting it down (to the point where I told Hubby that he would have to wait until I was done reading to speak to me). It’s definitely a book that I wish would have come out when I was younger, and that I had read it.
If you're interest in learning more about the author, check out this link: