The Dangerous Art of Blending In
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.

The Dangerous Art of Blending In Details

TitleThe Dangerous Art of Blending In
Author
LanguageEnglish
ReleaseJan 30th, 2018
PublisherBalzer + Bray
ISBN-139780062659002
Rating
GenreContemporary, Young Adult, Glbt, Fiction, Queer, Romance, Realistic Fiction, Health, Mental Health, Young Adult Contemporary

The Dangerous Art of Blending In Review

  • Stacee
    January 1, 1970
    I desperately wanted to love this book and I’m actually wondering if 3 stars is too high of a rating. First off: major trigger warnings for physical and mental abuse as well as homophobia. I couldn’t connect with Evan. He seems like a good guy in a shitty situation, but it felt like I never actually got to know him. I hated Evan’s mom and his dad isn’t any better as he just lets it happen. As much as I wanted to love the romance part of things, it was very dramatic and over the top. Plot wise, i I desperately wanted to love this book and I’m actually wondering if 3 stars is too high of a rating. First off: major trigger warnings for physical and mental abuse as well as homophobia. I couldn’t connect with Evan. He seems like a good guy in a shitty situation, but it felt like I never actually got to know him. I hated Evan’s mom and his dad isn’t any better as he just lets it happen. As much as I wanted to love the romance part of things, it was very dramatic and over the top. Plot wise, it was a rollercoaster of nothing. I was on edge because I was expecting a horrible beating every time I turned the page. It’s basically a slice of time where nothing happens except abuse. All sorts of people know Evan is getting abused and no one does anything. Literally no one helps. Lastly, I seriously struggled with the rhythm of the story. Everything was “I did this and then this and then this happened before I did this.” It got old reaaaaalllly quick. Overall, it had a lot of promise and judging by the high reviews, I’m in the minority. Obviously this book just wasn’t for me. **Huge thanks to Balzer + Bray for providing the arc free of charge**
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  • Max Baker
    January 1, 1970
    The Dangerous Art of Blending In is a new take on the standard "Gay in a small town" narrative, because it's not about coming out as gay, but coming out with the truth about an abusive parent. I use the phrase "at it's core" a lot in reviews, because I find that the core of the story needs to be strong enough to build a story around it. Soft/weak/boring cores lead to lackluster stories and I found The Dangerous Art of Blending In's core to be spectacular. However, I found the summery misleading The Dangerous Art of Blending In is a new take on the standard "Gay in a small town" narrative, because it's not about coming out as gay, but coming out with the truth about an abusive parent. I use the phrase "at it's core" a lot in reviews, because I find that the core of the story needs to be strong enough to build a story around it. Soft/weak/boring cores lead to lackluster stories and I found The Dangerous Art of Blending In's core to be spectacular. However, I found the summery misleading. It reads as a sort of traditional coming out story where a teen boy is just discovering his sexuality when instead, it is a novel about coming out in an abusive household.A lot of queer YA have homophobic parents to create tension and conflict, but in this novel Evan's mother is not just homophobic but extremely abusive both physically and mentally. And no, I'm not saying children of homophobic parents aren't abusive, I'm saying that Evan's mother hated him long before she knew he was gay and her homophobia does not lead to abuse, but rather the abuse leads to homophobia.I don't think I've ever read a book about an abusive mother and a meek father before, especially not where the abuse victim is a male. I appreciated tat Surmelis didn't make Evan's mother sympathetic or paint Evan's perspective of her as anything less then terrified. He legitimately feared his mother and she legitimately hated, hated her son. It was vile and disgusting to read about this character and what she did to her son almost to the point where I needed to stop reading and take a breather. But, that emotion, that hatred and fear Evan felt for his mother was some of the most real emotion I've ever felt reading a book before. The relationship between Evan and his mother is at the center of his story far more then Henry is. Sure, Henry helps Evan emotionally, but it's Evan who has to make choices and confront what has been done to him. The title, The Dangerous Art of Blending In, is perfect in the sense that that is the story, Evan's story. A warning to not let yourself blend in to avoid the bad things in the world.Evan tries so hard to keep his worlds sperate, to blend into the background and let his crush move on and his mother abuse him because it is the easy thing to do. It's easy to let things happen, but it's hard to change things. It's even harder to make change happen, to take the reigns and just do it. This book is about complicity, letting things happen when you know you can stop them and what happens when you choose to do nothing, to blend in.Nearly every character in this book blends in some way. Evan's father, his pastor, his friend Jeremy. They all let things happen and are forced to face the consequences of not doing anything and I appreciate how Surmelis tackled their actions and the subsequent fallout.Evan lives in such a fragile state, constantly volleying between blending in to two different worlds that he can't actively process them together. A good example of this is in the ice cream parlor where Evan meets up with the boy he kissed at Bible Camp. It's a hectic scene, where Henry asks Evan questions while Gaige tries to take Evan's attention away from Henry. And the way it's written is so interesting, because Evan almost never directly acknowledges either of them together. He gives his attention to Henry and ignores Gaige, only to turn his attention to Gaige and ignore Henry. He treats them like they cannot see each other because that is the only way he can talk to them. His life is so structured he couldn't fathom collapsing the walls he's built around the worlds he's made.The Dangerous Art of Blending In is a dark, dark book about abuse and complicity that's not for everyone, but should be read by everyone who ever just thought to blend in, do nothing, and hope it would all work out.
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  • Joshua Flores
    January 1, 1970
    Pretty excited to get to post one of the first reviews for this wonderful book! Angelo has written something that is so impactful, heartbreaking and needed in our world (and on YA bookshelves). I cannot recommend this book more highly. It is so damn good.
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  • Amber (Books of Amber)
    January 1, 1970
    The Dangerous Art of Blending In is a really tough book for me to review because it is about such a dark subject matter and also, without going into too much detail, it hit very close to home and it was triggering. I had to keep putting the book down because Surmelis' wrote certain scenes so well that I had to step out of the story for a bit.The main character, Evan, is Greek-American, gay, in the closet, and is being raised in an abusive household. I loved Evan sooo much. He is the sweetest per The Dangerous Art of Blending In is a really tough book for me to review because it is about such a dark subject matter and also, without going into too much detail, it hit very close to home and it was triggering. I had to keep putting the book down because Surmelis' wrote certain scenes so well that I had to step out of the story for a bit.The main character, Evan, is Greek-American, gay, in the closet, and is being raised in an abusive household. I loved Evan sooo much. He is the sweetest person and he deserves all the hugs.Evan's mother is actually the worst. I don't know how else to express my hatred of her in a PG manner. She was physically, mentally, emotionally, and verbally abusive, and it was incredibly difficult to read. Evan tried so hard to live up to his mother's expectations and to do everything "right", but she didn't change. Because people like her don't change. And Evan eventually came to realise that he wasn't the problem here.Evan's father wasn't much better, as he just sat back and allowed this abuse to happen, only stepping in when Evan's life was actually in danger. It was incredibly difficult to read.I wasn't too bothered about Henry, the best friend and love interest, because the romance took a backseat to the rest, but he was cute, I guess. I liked his relationship with Evan well enough, but like I said, it was overshadowed by the abuse and the story was really about Evan. The Dangerous Art of Blending In was one of my best reads of 2017. Everyone should read it when it comes out in January.
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  • Jamie
    January 1, 1970
    I wanted this to be My Book. The one that I can't wait to get into the hands of kids who need to see something different and need to see themselves. This is that book. It's a tough one - it's HARD and there's no easy answer found at the end but it is true. Evan is like so many kids and yet he's singular. The trials he goes through are not simple and not everything gets solved. His story in a lot of ways begins at the end for him. Very very good.
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  • Dahlia
    January 1, 1970
    I AM TOTALLY EMOTIONALLY FINE STOP LOOKING AT ME*wipes eyes**wipes nose**wipes whole face*I AM FINE I SAIDcw: child abuse, homophobia
  • Is
    January 1, 1970
    Have you guys ever reblog those tumblr post about books that tear your heart being your favorite? The one about the mom asking the person what their favorite book is? the sad one? they say, and the person replying, “WHICH ONE?” You know, because there are so many favorite, sad books?Yeah…I can’t relate.I’ll 100% admit it. I am the biggest wimp in the world. I just can’t. Listen, I could read it, but I probably won’t ever pick up the book again. And I could totally have a hearbreaking-esque book Have you guys ever reblog those tumblr post about books that tear your heart being your favorite? The one about the mom asking the person what their favorite book is? the sad one? they say, and the person replying, “WHICH ONE?” You know, because there are so many favorite, sad books?Yeah…I can’t relate.I’ll 100% admit it. I am the biggest wimp in the world. I just can’t. Listen, I could read it, but I probably won’t ever pick up the book again. And I could totally have a hearbreaking-esque book as my all time favorite, just never be able to reread it.On each book cover, in the title box, he’s written: For Every Normal Day.I feel the tears come rushing down. “You remembered.”He nods. Softly, he says, “It’s a start.”In The Dangerous Art of Blending In, Evan Panos has a hard life. His strict Greek mother both physically and mentally abuses him. His father is never home since he has to work long hours. Yet, when he is and he sees what his mother does to Evan he never really stands up for Evan. Nor does he put an end to the abuse that Evan has endured for years.Evan doesn’t tell anyone of the abuse he endures at home. In fact, everyone believes he’s a klutz whenever a new bruise appears in his body. All he has is paintings, a secret hideout filled with an army, and Henry.“I want him to save me, but he can barely save himself.”Let me tell you, this reminded me of this film I watched on Netflix. Especially when one specific scene resembled that of the film’s and I just about broke for Evan. The things he’s had to endure for all of his life and not even his father has put an end to the abuse. I get that it’s his wife and the mother of his child. But between your wife and the life of your child, I really don’t see how you can’t do something. Not only to the physical abuse but the mental abuse. His mother about destroyed him every day.There’s a lot to this book. A lot that was hard, that was raw and hurtful. But, sometimes I couldn’t get into the writing. It felt kind of novice. There were times where the characters were kind of exaggerated. Especially when the one thing I hate happens—the characters will suddenly change their minds and just act so caricature-like.“I haven’t seen him since before camp. He looks different. Like he’s still Henry but he’s…oh shit…he’s handsome.”I always feel how contrived the writing and the action is of you suddenly realizing your best friend is hot. Writers, you can do it off screen, not right at that second. I just winced when I read that sentence. And a lot of similar sentences are throughout this novel.Like I said there’s a lot in this novel that makes me wince with cringe-ness, but there’s a lot of rawness and honesty within this story.The romance between Evan and Henry was sweet. It did have moments of frustration from BOTH parties, but I really love the ending.Some decisions. Some events are frustrating. From EVERY party. Yet, I enjoyed this book. I can’t say I’ll be reading this again, because this book is triggering and I’m not one for certain topics, but I do think it’s needed. It definitely spoke to me in some ways.Regardless, I do think it’s enjoyable and worth the read. Just go in with this TWs: Physical and mental abuse. Parental neglect. Neglect from authority figures.For more of my reviews visit me at The Written Voice of Is
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  • Danielle Chambers
    January 1, 1970
    I really enjoyed this book and wanted to sit and read it in one sitting, but the further I got into the book the quicker I realized that wasn’t an option. This book deals with some heavy stuff and it is handled well. I had to stop reading for a while several times because my emotions were getting the best of me. The thing that upset me the most was that I know this kind of stuff happens and real life and it makes me so angry. Evan is so likable and I just want to protect him. This book is excell I really enjoyed this book and wanted to sit and read it in one sitting, but the further I got into the book the quicker I realized that wasn’t an option. This book deals with some heavy stuff and it is handled well. I had to stop reading for a while several times because my emotions were getting the best of me. The thing that upset me the most was that I know this kind of stuff happens and real life and it makes me so angry. Evan is so likable and I just want to protect him. This book is excellent and I would recommend it to anyone.
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  • Trista
    January 1, 1970
    This was a hard, emotional book to read but one that, when I was done, felt like I had just read something very important. It wasn't just a coming out story about a boy finding his sexuality but also about telling the truth about an abusive parent. I believe this was the first book I've read with an abusive mother toward a son and it was chilling(as it would be no matter what) to read how much this mother hated her son.Evan was the type of character who liked to keep everything in neat little bo This was a hard, emotional book to read but one that, when I was done, felt like I had just read something very important. It wasn't just a coming out story about a boy finding his sexuality but also about telling the truth about an abusive parent. I believe this was the first book I've read with an abusive mother toward a son and it was chilling(as it would be no matter what) to read how much this mother hated her son.Evan was the type of character who liked to keep everything in neat little boxes. He didn't like his worlds to mingle. With it becoming harder to hide the abuse and his growing crush on his best friend, Henry, his worlds were starting to mix and it was obviously affecting him. He really just wanted to live his life but he couldn't, not safely in his own home because of his mother. His father worked so much so he was rarely around and, when he was, he would try to step in but he only ever stopped her for the moment. It was not a healthy situation for Evan.The book also had a lot of great, positive dynamics. The friendship to more of Evan and Henry was great, not sudden but a slow struggle. Henry's family was great, funny, and I wish we'd gotten to see more of them. Every person in Evan's life had some kind of impact of his, even if it was just by staying silent, and all of it was causing Evan's perfectly separated lines to blend into each other. What made the book so hard to read was that every time it seemed like something was going right for Evan, there would be something bad right around the corner. The kid couldn't catch a break. I liked that he was able to have some escape with his art and how connected he was to it. This is a book where I highly recommend reading the author's notes after because they add a lot to the book as well.
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  • Just Reading Everything
    January 1, 1970
    Oh man, don't be fooled by this fun cover — THE DANGEROUS ART OF BLENDING IN will break your heart in the best way. Evan is a Greek-American and senior in high school, but he's also struggling with defining his sexuality. While not yet out, he's been having strong feelings for his best friend, Henry. But Evan also hides a tragic secret from his friends. His mother is both verbally and physically abusive, and his father, while empathetic toward Evan, doesn't have the spine to put a stop to it. As Oh man, don't be fooled by this fun cover — THE DANGEROUS ART OF BLENDING IN will break your heart in the best way. Evan is a Greek-American and senior in high school, but he's also struggling with defining his sexuality. While not yet out, he's been having strong feelings for his best friend, Henry. But Evan also hides a tragic secret from his friends. His mother is both verbally and physically abusive, and his father, while empathetic toward Evan, doesn't have the spine to put a stop to it. As the beatings become more frequent when Evan can't prove to be the "perfect Christian boy" his mother wants him to be, he finds it harder to hide. Surmelis portrays a raw, honest, and heartbreaking character in Evan and sensitively touches on a subject matter that is a reality for many teens. I was rooting for Evan the entire journey. Don't miss this one in 2018.
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