The Art of Escaping by Erin Callahan | Review

Genre: contemporary young adult, has gay characters

Pages: 320


Mattie tries to hide her passion with escapalogism from her family, friends and classmates. She has one best friend, Stella, who leaves for boarding school for the summer. Her anxiety for college applications and being completely alone for two months propells her into finding and starting her project. She’s been watching videos of artists like Harry Houdini for a long time, and she goes to find Miyu, the reclusive daughter of another famous escape-artist. Her loft if full of equipment, but the training is challenging and sometimes dangerous. There’s lots of locks to be picked and a submersion tank to dust off.

Mattie learns of her potential, of what she can do if she throws herself into her passion onstage, finding a community who cheer and heckle her. But then her worst fear comes true, someone she knows finds out. She imagines her new separated worlds crumbling. It helps when she realizes other teenagers are also trying to figure out themselves and carrying secrets.

My thoughts

Rating out of five:


I went into this book without expectation and it blew me away with its witty dialogue, truth on friendship and characters being passionate about their interest (which is possibly my favourite thing).

It was an entertaining read, Mattie and her friends were so well-written and I never could’ve imagined how real their characters or world would feel. It’s a good plot, I especially liked how things in everyones life built up to each of Mattie’s performances on stage. Which for the record was in true magician style with anxious assistants and a baffled crowd, where I wanted to clap for her myself in relief.

Miyu goes from being just an obvious mentor to becoming a whole human being as I learned more about her, she kind of transformed in front of my eyes in a way that facinated me. At the beginning I did not care about the small paragraphs about her mother’s life, then as I realized what they were it gave the book some nice details along with giving another perspective, the story was no longer just about Mattie, but had become bigger.

I can’t get past how painfully relatable Mattie’s thoughts and attempts at friendships was. In books like this some big events happens that forces the introverted character to come out of her shell, but I really liked how in this book it was a choice. It was definitely started by smaller things happening, like Stella going away for the summer and trying to find out what she was passionate about before big decisions like college. But it was Mattie herself who chose to put herself out there, to go to Miyu and ask for training. The way it went down was actually inspiring, especially for someone who keeps her interests very to herself.

The official release date of this book is June 19th. I need more young adult books with the realness I’ve found in this book along with Maureen Johnsons “Truly Devious” and Becky Albertallis “Simon vs. the homo sapiens agenda”. They’re all very different books plot-wise, but to me they felt very similiar in style and how relatable they were written, in a genuine way I wish more ya had. Genuine characters that could’ve been actual teenagers, I hope it becomes even less of an exception in young adult books.

I received a copy of this book through NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. 

*some more discussion and spoilers below this*

There’s a couple of things that bothered me, and I don’t know how to explain them without spoiling a few things. There’s this string of events that drives the plot, mainly started by Mattie choosing to go to Miyu and get really into escapologism. And somehow it ends up with bringing them all together, which is fine, but one of the last performances leads everyone to end up with someone. Everything always works out in the rest of the book as well, in a way that took me out of it at points. Everything bad that happens I can think of, like Will being outed, turns into something that propell further actions. Also the friend group talk about being awkward people, yet everyone knows what to say in any situation, which creates a split in my perception of them.

That said, everything good in the book heavily outweighs this, and I would completely recommend it to anyone looking for an entertaining young adult story about finding oneself. It seems like a perfect summer read as well.

4 thoughts on “The Art of Escaping by Erin Callahan | Review

  1. Puddle Jumper Reads June 7, 2018 / 11:39 am

    Thanks for writing this! That “realness” you describe in YA books, thats exactly what I look for too. I’m adding Simon, and now this book, to my TBR

    Liked by 1 person

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