Review: The Dangerous Art of Blending In by Angelo Surmelis

Title: The Dangerous Art of Blending In
Author: Angelo Surmelis
Publisher: Balzer + Bray
Rating: 4/5 Stars
Hardcover, 336 Pages
Published January 2018

Summary: 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.

This book first got on my radar when I was cataloging books at an internship, and I knew it was something that I wanted to read. And I'm so glad that I did, because it was a great story that I really enjoyed and had me hooked from the beginning up until the very end. So without further ado, let's get into the review!

As the summary explains, Evan is a senior in high school, and he's going through a time where he's trying to figure out his sexuality and how to come to terms with it, all while attempting to suppress feelings for his best friend. And on top of that, he has to live with his abusive mother, who goes on rampages that not even Evan's father can protect him from -- although it's not like he tries. So Evan is caught between wanting to be himself and also be the perfect Greek son that will keep his mother off of his back -- but he's slowly realizing that he isn't able to have both.

Like I said, I really enjoyed reading this book. It definitely covers a lot of important topics, specially circled around identity and abuse. There were some times that this book was a little bit hard to read, because I just wanted to jump into the pages and defend Evan against his mother, who was truly a terrible human being. But there were other moments where I was swooning or laughing, so this book took me on an emotional roller coaster for sure! 

One of my favorite characters in this book was definitely Evan himself. While he was dealing with a lot of shit from all different aspects of his life, he managed to stand up for himself and still do some things that made him happy, even if it meant that he'd be disappointing others. And seeing him fully acknowledge his sexuality and own it unapologetically was so great to see -- I was cheering him on the entire way. Especially in those rare moments when he found the courage to stand up to his mother.

(Spoilers here -- skip to the next paragraph!) The only thing about this book that I was a little disappointed in was how the ending felt really rushed to me. I'm glad that Evan got out of that situation and got to start a life on his own, but it all happened in literally a single chapter. We never get to see the confrontation between his parents. Or how his mother reacts when he leaves. Or what the pastor or anyone else in the community does with the knowledge of all the abuse Evan has witnessed -- or if they even find out at all. There was just so much that left the reader in the dark, and it felt a little bit frustrating. But other than that, there was nothing else about this book that I disliked. I couldn't put it down and managed to tear through the entire thing in only a day and a half!

Overall, I really enjoyed reading The Dangerous Art of Blending In. If you're looking for a book that covers multiple important topics while also making you laugh (and swoon) at all the right moments, then you should definitely check this one out -- and I'll definitely be reading more of Angelo's books in the future!

1 comment

  1. I loved this book, and I glad you enjoyed it too! Although I do agree that the ending was a bit rushed, like it there wasn't much build up. Still an important story.


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