The Dangerous Art of Blending In by Angelo Surmelis
Published by Balzer + Bray on January 30th 2018
Genres: Young Adult, Contemporary, LGBT
Seventeen-year-old Evan Panos doesn’t know where he fits in. His strict Greek mother refuses to see him as anything but a disappointment. His quiet, workaholic father is a staunch believer in avoiding any kind of conflict. And his best friend Henry has somehow become distractingly attractive over the summer.
Tired, isolated, scared—Evan’s only escape is drawing in an abandoned church that feels as lonely as he is. And, yes, he kissed one guy over the summer. But it’s his best friend Henry who’s now proving to be irresistible. It’s Henry who suddenly seems interested in being more than friends. And it’s Henry who makes him believe that he’s more than his mother’s harsh words and terrifying abuse. But as things with Henry heat up, and his mother’s abuse escalates, Evan has to decide how to find his voice in a world where he has survived so long by avoiding attention at all costs.
*** Received an ARC from HCC Frenzy for an honest review ***
The Dangerous Art of Blending In by Angelo Surmelis is a new contemporary about a gay boy who is growing up in a super conservative family with unfortunate circumstances. I can’t tell you how hard hitting and heart breaking this novel was. It’s own voices which makes its even more sad to read. So I’ll tell you now, grab your tissues because that cover is will mislead you.
Evan is Greek American, and he was born into a family with a loving father and a resentful mother. To top it all off, Evan is gay. He must keep that a secret and try to blend in as much as possible. Things were going so well for him. He would go to school, keep up with his art, and most importantly steer clear of his mom. He never knew what would set her off.
I will say that The Dangerous Art of Blending In should come with trigger warnings. There are some heavy materials discussed and portrayed in it. Firstly there is the abusive mom; both verbally and physically. Then there is the bullying that occurs at school. All of it was just too much to handle and my poor heart kept breaking into little pieces.
Evan was such a treasure. I just wanted to pick him up and put him in my pocket. He’s such a talented individual but sadly because of all the years of abuse, he fails too see his worth. But he makes such huge strides in growth as the novel progresses that it was nice to see that he never gave up and kept fighting.
Him and Henry were really cute together and at times it was nice to see that Evan could find solace in Henry’s company. I do wish that it didn’t play too much to the savior trope. Evan is a strong young man and with or without Henry he will be okay, I just wish that came across more on the page.
As a gay youth this story would have impacted my teenage years had I read it then. If you don’t have a safe environment at home, never be afraid to reach out for help from the people you know care about you. Don’t feel ashamed. YOU ARE WORTH IT TOO.
I highly recommend The Dangerous Art of Blending in, you will cry and you will feel compassion and empathy like you’ve never felt before.
Have you read The Dangerous Art of Blending In? What did you think of it?
Let me know in the comments!
Until next time,
ANGELO SURMELIS was raised in Greece until he immigrated to Illinois at the age of five. He currently lives in Los Angeles. An award-winning designer, Surmelis has been featured on over fifty television shows, including the Today show and Extra, as well as in magazines such as InStyle, TV Guide, and Entertainment Weekly. He has worked as a host on networks like HGTV and TLC. He can be found online at www.angelohome.com.