The Escape Artist

Narrated by: Gabra Zackman
Length: 8 hrs and 49 mins
4 out of 5 stars (5 ratings)

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Publisher's Summary

A luminous family memoir from the author of the critically acclaimed Boston Globe best seller, 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 mother’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.

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

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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.