The Escape Artist

Featured Book: The Escape Artist

Selected as a New York TimesEditor’s Choice” new book in 2020.
Recommended as one of the “Best New Books” by People Magazine in 2020
BookPage named it a “Reader’s Choice” book of 2020.

A luminous family memoir from the author of the critically acclaimed national bestseller, After Long Silence, lauded as “mesmerizing” (The Washington Post Book World), “extraordinary” (The Philadelphia Inquirer), and “a triumphant work of art” (Publishers Weekly, starred review).

In the tradition of Alison Bechdel’s Fun Home or George Hodgman’s Bettyville, Fremont writes with wit and candor about growing up in a household held together by a powerful glue: secrets. Her parents, profoundly affected by their memories of the Holocaust, pass on to both Helen and her older sister a penchant for keeping their lives neatly, even obsessively compartmentalized, and a zealous determination to protect themselves from what they see as danger from the outside world.

She delves deeply into the family dynamic that produced such a startling devotion to secret-keeping, beginning with the painful and unexpected discovery that she has been disinherited in her father’s will. In scenes that are frank, moving, and often surprisingly funny, Fremont writes about growing up in such an intemperate household, with parents who pretended to be Catholics but were really Jews—survivors of Nazi-occupied Poland. She shares tales of family therapy sessions, disordered eating, her sister’s frequently unhinged meltdowns, and her own romantic misadventures as she tries to sort out her sexual identity.

In a family devoted to hiding the truth, Fremont learns the truth is the one thing that can set you free. Scorching, witty, and ultimately redemptive, The Escape Artist is a powerful contribution to the memoir shelf.

Read Praise and Reviews

Watch (under 3 minutes) Author Helen Fremont on being disowned and declared dead by her family.

Hear (2 minute) segment on  The Drum Literary Magazine “Safe and Sound” mini-cast, first episode.

Watch a 47 minute YouTube book talk with Helen Epstein hosted by the Museum of Jewish Heritage.

Listen to “On Point” WYPR radio with Lisa Morgan and Marion Winik: Helen Fremont and the Minefield of Family Memoir.

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