Book Review: The Dangerous Art of Blending In

The Dangerous Art of Blending In by Angelo Surmelis

My Rating: 🌟🌟🌟.5

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.

Is this what it feels like to be safe, to have someone care no matter what or who you are?

I’ve had this book on my radar for quite a while and when I saw that a copy of it was up for grabs, I immediately seized the opportunity.

I am looking for more #ownvoices books, and I’m glad that I grabbed this one.

I had given this book 4.5 stars initially, but now I think it doesn’t deserve that rating. So, I’m taking one star down and giving it 3.5 stars instead.

Evan, the main character, is a high schooler who believes in keeping to himself. He’s abused at home by his religious and conservative mother who believes there is devil inside him, and his father believes in avoiding conflict at home and never stands up for Evan. And his friend Henry has gotten remarkably hot ever since Evan returned from the camp.

So, this book is about abuse, which begins from page one when Evan’s mother calls some church people at her home to get the evil out of Evan’s mind. And the abuse doesn’t end until the very last chapter I think? I’m probably wrong. This book is scary – not only because the depiction of abuse hits the mark, but also because there are so many Evans out there who are being abused by people, and realizing this is extremely scary.

I want to love her. I want her to love me. But she hates who I am—what I am.

The plot is very simple – a 17-year-old gay teenager endures the abuse of his mother and he gets attracted to his best friend and grapples with his feelings for him because he does not want to be found out. We see Evan coming to terms with his sexual orientation, eventually becoming comfortable with it and learning to stand up for himself. So, this book is pretty hopeful.

I liked Evan’s character- he’s kind and sweet- and hated the guts of Evan’s mother– I couldn’t stomach that obnoxious lady!– kind of pitied his father-I was yelling at him as well throughout the book. But, I didn’t feel much about Evan’s love interest.

This book also focuses on Evan’s relationship with Henry, as it evolves, but I felt that Henry’s character was underdeveloped. I wanted to like his character so much, but there wasn’t much to him, except that he’s a good boyfriend, a good friend and wears shorts in winters.

Also, I somehow felt that this book wasn’t complete. It’s more than 300 pages and Evan is abused for more 95% of the book! And then there’s an abrupt end to it and nothing is resolved. Also, even though Evan and Henry’s story is also important in the book, the romance is blah.

In this book, Evan probably has social anxiety and has contemplated suicide in the past. This book has homophobic characters, has scenes in which Evan is abused by his mother and bullied by his peers. So, you know this book is painful. And if any of the things mentioned above can hurt you, do not read it. No book is more important than you!

I liked this book, and there were parts that made me cry. Some were difficult to read. There were a few normal-Evan moments that I didn’t want to be ruined and I found myself wishing for his mother to not find out about them! I wanted to enter the book and fight the horrible mother of Evan and slap his father and put them both behind bars because how dare they?

I would deffo recommend this book to readers who want to read about abuse, but this book is a bit difficult to read as I’ve already mentioned above! It is devastating yet hopeful and, overall, I liked it!

So, have you read this book? Do you know other books like this one? I’m always looking for good recommendations!

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