REVIEW: The Escape From Home by Avi

REVIEW: The Escape From Home by AviEscape From Home (Beyond the Western Sea #1) by Avi
Published: Scholastic (1996), Paperback, 295pg
Genres: Fiction, Historical Fiction
Source: Library


Maura O'Connell, 15, and her brother, Patrick, 12, escape Ireland's brutal poverty with only the belongings in their bundles and tickets for ocean passage. Sir Laurence Kirkle, 11, flees a life of privilege to seek justice. When fate brings them ogether, the three join forces in a daring scheme that may lead to freedom and glory...or dire consequences. (from Goodreads)

Buy on Amazon | Goodreads


Avi is one of those authors who I get all giddy over, even if I don’t go to extreme lengths to read all their books. I’ve read only three or so of Avi’s, but every one of them has been so good that I know anything else of his will be good, too. And so it is with The Escape From Home!

It’s hard for me to separate my giddiness of Avi yay! with the awesomeness that is the book, so this review might be a little fangirl-y. First off, I love the setting. Avi does history fiction very well, and this is no exception. The 18th century has a lot of potential for depressing situations (which I hate), but with Avi I don’t worry about it so much because he always does it with so much elegance and sympathy. The Escape From Home has depressing things in it, like Patrick and Maura getting kicked out of their home after nearly starving and freezing to death in it, but, again, Avi didn’t make it anything more than it was and it worked for me. The characters helped a lot: Patrick and Maura are so strong and brave that they override any crappy bits they may have to get through. No woe-is-me wailing here, folks!

I also liked Laurence, the runaway rich boy. I can understand why he runs away (I probably would have, too), and though he’s really naive and somewhat stupid, I think he’ll grow up into a good man (and hopefully a smarter one). He just has to not get himself killed first.

The writing is pure Avi. It’s elegant, exciting, and somewhat sophisticated. I don’t know if that comes from the fact that it’s a historical novel (and so the language is different already), or if it’s just Avi, but whatever it is, it works.

The only thing I didn’t particularly like was how Maura was always portrayed as a frail, beautiful damsel in distress. I don’t think she was a damsel in distress! And sure, she’s pretty, but that doesn’t mean a weak woman who needs protecting, like some of the male characters seem to think. I wish Avi had made that point stronger– I think he was trying to say that, but it wasn’t coming across as effectively as it might have.

Anyway, The Escape From Home ends on a kind of cliffhanger, so I can’t wait to read the next book!

Read: April 2009

What’s your favorite historical YA fiction novel?


  1. hmm…i’ve never heard of avi either. he’s a one-name author? like cher and madonna of the music world? i’m intrigued! i do read a ton of YA because i’m always on the lookout for stuff for my students…this may be something some of the history buffs would enjoy.

    • He is! Well, it’s a pseudonym, but still.

      I think Avi’s terrific for kids; he doesn’t sugar-coat things but neither is he horribly graphic. I’d definitely recommend trying The True Confessions of Charlotte Doyle for sure, as I think that’s one of his best books and a good introduction to his work. It’s a little more violent than The Escape From Home, but nothing I couldn’t handle when I was 10-ish. 😀

  2. I have never heard of Avi either and just like curlywurlygurl I am intrigued by the one name. It sounds like a good book and that there might be other delightful books to be read as well. I enjoyed the enthusiasm.

    To answer your question I have many many YA favorites. Where The Red Fern Grows, The Last Silk Balloon, and Roll of Thunder Hear My Cry are just a fee that pop into my head offhand.

  3. I *love* Avi. He, also, will write back to children (and, ahem, adults) who write to him. My favourite Avi is “True Confessions of Charlotte Doyle” but “Crispin” is also marvellous as is “Nothing but the Truth”. His pen name is a family nickname, I think.
    p.s. I got here via Beth Fish Reads because I think the “Thursday Tea” meme is awesome.

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