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Publisher's Summary

A luminous new memoir from the author of the critically acclaimed national best seller After Long Silence, The Escape Artist has been lauded by New York Times best-selling author Mary Karr as “beautifully written, honest, and psychologically astute. A must-read”. 

In the tradition of Alison Bechdel’s Fun Home and 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 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 mother’s will. In scenes that are frank, moving, and often surprisingly funny, she 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.

Searching, poignant, and ultimately redemptive, The Escape Artist is a powerful contribution to the memoir shelf.

©2020 Helen Fremont (P)2020 Simon & Schuster Audio

What listeners say about The Escape Artist

Average Customer Ratings
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  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

The Ties that Bind...Survival of the Misfits.

I love when I can escape right into the heart of a story and not want it to end. Helen Fremont's spellbinding
memoir is both harrowing and a great listen. If you have been following Dani Shapiro's podcast, "Family Secrets" -
this author should be at the top of her interviews in Season 3. It is brave to tell your own painful story and to
expose other members of your family in intimate detail – as the catharsis of trying to make sense of the emotional chaos your survived will have consequences. I've just finished this book and it slowly dawns on me that it is reminiscent of Tara Westover's bestseller, "EDUCATED" – with unbelievable twists and turns of gaslight and abuse where family ties and the need to be loved, to belong and to be seen are so violently strong – that the lengths one goes to in order to honor the family structure is achingly painful - until it becomes so clear that you have to save yourself if you want to escape the emotional prison you have been sentenced to from birth.

28 people found this helpful

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    4 out of 5 stars

A true story of the results of hiding the truth and its harm to others

Helen Fremont is an excellent writer. This book is intense! As a former trial lawyer she gives you an understanding at this outset how to look at her memoir from her perspective of why she felt a need to tell such painful memories. Her need to tell the truth becomes more apparent as you learn some of the lies her mother (especially) has to tell to survive the Holocaust but continued to tell apparently to help those who saved her. The result is this story of pain inflicted on her daughters for decades afterward.

16 people found this helpful

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Exceptional story of love, loss, and lies.

Moving, tragic, and relatable to anyone that comes from a dysfunctional family. The overall theme of the story is love, amongst hardships, mental illness, and the discovery of family secrets. Well written. Narrator rating: 7/10.

10 people found this helpful

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First rate Memoir

I was completely fascinated by this book. It was beautifully and sensitively written. The narrator did an excellent job. I highly recommend it.

9 people found this helpful

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Riveting Memoir

Family love, identity, loyalty and lies all shape who we are . Helen Fremont’s unraveling of her family dynamics’s is riveting. Highly recommend for anyone interested in listening to a story about a family hiding their Jewish identity, and more, in an effort to survive. Yet, the layers of lies threatened their bonds and relationships in insidious and profound ways. Highly recommend.

6 people found this helpful

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Psychologically astute and fascinating

This is a deeply personal account of growing up in a very dysfunctional family. It contains embarrassing revelations about the author, her older sister and their (currently deceased) parents. It's hard to imagine the degree of anger required to make such humiliating information available to the public. I missed the first memoir published by the author and wish it were also available from Audible.

3 people found this helpful

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Too Intense for Me

Borderline Personality Disorder. Domestic violence. Eating disorders. Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder. Suicide attempts. Panic attacks. Major Depressive Disorder. Emotional abuse. Genocide. Just some light reading for your daily commute.

1 person found this helpful

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Scary and fascinating

The kind of people they let be Psychiatrists! Secrets kill and I wish her first book was available.

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Dysfunctional family. The end.

The underlying themes about the generation that followed the Holocaust, mental illness, and family trauma are potentially worth a book. In this case, the author focused so intently on her own pain that the entire book was a missed opportunity.

Until the last few paragraphs, there was no reason offered for the often bizarre behavior of the survivor parents. The author never explored the enmeshed behavior that left aging women at the mercy of dysfunctional parents. The nature of the older sister’s mental health problems were offered in a disjointed and illogical manner.

By the end of the book, there seemed nothing offered other than a voyeuristic view of personal pain. Pointless and self-indulgent narrative.

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  • BL
  • 01-29-21

Beautifully written

The damage of secret keeping rang loud and clear
She weaved the words and metaphors so well that i wanted to pause and write it down

The story that spells out unacknowledged pain forces an unconscious repeat