Refreshingly upbeat, humorous exploration of teenage friendship and escapology!
There are a lot of YA books out there that often feel heavy-handed, particularly when dealing with issues such as sexuality. Thus, it's refreshing to read a novel that explores the importance of friendship in the teen years, and the impact of coming out to the people around you, without getting too weighty or serious.
There are two protagonists in this book; Mattie, a sassy girl with a burning desire to be an escapologist, and Will, a typical jock with a dream girlfriend and a rather big secret.
Mattie stalks Miyu, a 30-something agoraphobic, because she's the daughter of a famous escapologist, and holds the secrets that can help Mattie achieve her dreams. In a series of brutal challenges, she teaches Mattie how to perform the best trick of all - escaping from restraints when trapped underwater.
Mattie adores her new skills, but is terrified of performing on stage; so much so that she refuses to confide in anyone about what she's doing. However, one night Will is in the audience, and bam... the secret is out.
In a demonstration of 'mutually assured destruction', Will promises to keep her secret safe, by sharing his own secret. Despite dating Betsy, one of the hottest girls in school, he's actually gay. In the spirit of protecting one another's secret identities, they become friends.
There's a great cast of other characters in the book too. I liked Mattie's quirky friend Stella, and Frankie, the boy genius who skipped two grades. Probably the best aspect for me was the dialogue. This book is full of sass, and in a totally authentic, non-cliched way too. It made the characters feel very rounded and authentic.
In conclusion, I very much enjoyed this - and would recommend it!