The Dangerous Art of Blending In

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 aband...

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Title:The Dangerous Art of Blending In
Author:Angelo Surmelis
Rating:
Edition Language:English

The Dangerous Art of Blending In Reviews

  • Korrina  (OwlCrate)

    I spent the entire afternoon reading this and it really broke my heart. This book is brutal and devastating. This book is definitely not for everyone, and you can see that by looking through some of the other reviews, but it spoke to me and made me feel deeply.

  • Vitor Martins

    Esse é um livro sobre abuso doméstico (psicológico e físico), que conta a história de um menino gay tendo que lidar com a constante rejeição de sua mãe.

    Sendo (infelizmente) um homem que passou por isso, desde a inadequação dentro de casa por causa dos conflitos religiosos até a agressão física, esse é um tópico que geralmente me deixa dividido. Porque, por mais que eu ache extremamente importante que a literatura YA aborde temas assim, eu sempre acabo sendo lembrado de situações que eu vivi que

    Esse é um livro sobre abuso doméstico (psicológico e físico), que conta a história de um menino gay tendo que lidar com a constante rejeição de sua mãe.

    Sendo (infelizmente) um homem que passou por isso, desde a inadequação dentro de casa por causa dos conflitos religiosos até a agressão física, esse é um tópico que geralmente me deixa dividido. Porque, por mais que eu ache extremamente importante que a literatura YA aborde temas assim, eu sempre acabo sendo lembrado de situações que eu vivi que achei que já tinha superado e, guess what?, não superei.

    Em

    isso tudo foi elevado à maior das potências porque eu acho que nunca vi tanto da minha história em um protagonista como vi no Evan. Desde os pequenos questionamentos que ele tem no dia a dia até coisas extremamente específicas como a maneira como a mãe dele descobre sobre sua sexualidade por causa dos seus diários.

    O livro é angustiante, traz poucas cenas onde o leitor consegue respirar aliviado e despertou em mim uma raiva constante de todos que fizeram mal para o Evan. Mas essa é uma história sobre um sobrevivente. É a história de um garoto que odeia a própria vida mas ainda assim luta por ela. Independente dos motivos, Evan quer sobreviver e a maneira como o autor coloca esse desejo desesperador na escrita é muito bonita.

    Muitos dos temas abordados aqui conversam com parte do que eu estou escrevendo em Piratas Gays (título provisório do meu próximo livro) e eu encontrei aqui muita coragem para continuar contando essa história (porque não está sendo fácil tirar ela de dentro de mim), e a leitura de TDAOBI não poderia ter vindo em um momento melhor.

    Eu terminei a leitura me acabando de chorar mas era um choro bom. Um choro que me fez perceber tudo que eu passei para estar vivo hoje. Para olhar o ponto em que a minha vida chegou e acreditar que está tudo bem.

  • Max Baker

    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

    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,

    , 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.

    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.

  • Cait (Paper Fury)

    I knew it was going to be an emotional one but afjdsakfld the ending basically had me feeling at least 4 things all at once which is RIDICULOUS as I am a Vulcan and emotion as bread.

    Someone get me a bucket. I'm cosplaying a waterfall.

    Evan's mother basically hides her (not named but very ob

    I knew it was going to be an emotional one but afjdsakfld the ending basically had me feeling at least 4 things all at once which is RIDICULOUS as I am a Vulcan and emotion as bread.

    Someone get me a bucket. I'm cosplaying a waterfall.

    Evan's mother basically hides her (not named but very obvious) mental illness behind her religion: and uses it as an excuse to beat her "wicked and sinful" son. It's...it's so hard to read...Evan is just so beaten down, on the inside as well. He believes he's ugly and unworthy and evil and it's ALL he can do to try and be the "perfect Greek son" plus keep the fact that he's gay hidden.

    And it's so sickening because everyone around him basically just stands back and pretends the abuse isn't happening. I'm really glad the book actually pointed at that. It's unfair and hard to read but really really true to life.

    He's an artist but has a really low opinion of his work (EVAN YOU IS KIND, YOU IS SMART, YOU IS IMPORTANT). He's the most precious cinnamon but also he breaks my heart with how, whenever someone

    nice to him, he pushes them away.

    I do wish Henry had been a little deeper as a character (I really don't feel we got to know him?!) but I love how he and Evan were just BFFs and it was developing into

    and how they learned to take care of each other and afldksad.

    Bless.

    We get to see Evan's life and I love that he and his dad went out for donuts (although is dad just basically stood by when Evan got abused by his mum soooo: 98% mad at him still). And there is SO MUCH GREEK FOOD. I may have eaten my paperback. There's also

    and I don't think the book slams religion or anything, but it reminded me of

    in that it DID point out where religion often ignores/fails/condemns minorities.

    There's an author's note in the back, and I think this is like

    close to the author's own Greek/coming-out story. It makes my heart very full when authors share such intimate pieces of themselves and just absolute RESPECT HERE.

    Haha okay that was super specific, Cait, you bucket. It's just a lot of the dialogue didn't feel natural and I feel it needed more body language? Like everyone went from 0 to 1000 REAL fast and I would've liked more indications of the mood from

    The writing was good but sometimes the tension could've been woven just a littttttle bit higher. So little nitpicks! (And lmao I'm a debut author so I know these feels and I know they get better with more books.)

    This one is here to pack an emotional picnic and the actual pain of Evan's thoughts and experiences is absolutely well written. I justttttt want to kidnap him and give him a good life. It's not a pretty story and it is a needful story and my heart aches.

    (Signs of a good book: MY FEELS HURT.)

  • Stacee

    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**

  • Sarah Robinson-Hatch

    I really wanted to love this book. I really did. I mean, it was OKAY, but I was expecting something far more powerful and moving. I think the main thing that made it hard for me to love this book was just how confronting it was. I understand that it's necessary to read confronting books sometimes, but the homophobia and abuse was really difficult to read. I'd definitely recommend keeping clear of this book if those are things you're triggered by.

    Also, I found it hard to connect to the protagonis

    I really wanted to love this book. I really did. I mean, it was OKAY, but I was expecting something far more powerful and moving. I think the main thing that made it hard for me to love this book was just how confronting it was. I understand that it's necessary to read confronting books sometimes, but the homophobia and abuse was really difficult to read. I'd definitely recommend keeping clear of this book if those are things you're triggered by.

    Also, I found it hard to connect to the protagonist because of how much of the story was focussed on the abuse. I was scared that there was going to be another confronting scene just around the corner, so this was definitely more of a tentative read for me, despite wanting to know if things would work out okay for Evan in the end. I wanted him to be happy, I really did. His whole situation was just so tragic - definitely not the happy queer book I had hoped for.

    Now I am a sad queer.

  • Kai

    review to come

  • Elise (TheBookishActress)

    I am so sorry, but I am

    giving this review a fair introduction or summary. Two things. One, I'm slightly bothered that Evan’s entire character arc is driven by romance, which is shitty itself in a book about abuse. Two, I'm bothered by the fact that

    .

    I want to get into the romance as a character arc thing first. Because guys,

    And obviously, that’s an anno

    I am so sorry, but I am

    giving this review a fair introduction or summary. Two things. One, I'm slightly bothered that Evan’s entire character arc is driven by romance, which is shitty itself in a book about abuse. Two, I'm bothered by the fact that

    .

    I want to get into the romance as a character arc thing first. Because guys,

    And obviously, that’s an annoyance in any book, right? Too boring. But in a book about a suicidal boy trying to recover from abuse,

    The most important thing to get out of an abusive environment is a support system. A romantic relationship that could turn abusive itself? Not a good

    for abuse. Consistent abuse fact – a relationship is not a healthy endeavor until some degree of inner mental recovery is already occurring. Evan is not in a good place to proceed in a serious relationship when his relationship with Henry begins - he is unsure of his sexuality, suicidal, and essentially hanging on to life by a thread. He has not at

    begun a recovery process, even an inner one, and the narrative of this book is not, in my opinion, cognizant of that. What a person in his situation needs is a support system of people who want what is best for him and are willing to step away when he needs them to. Henry is not that, nor can any teenager - or any one person - be that. This message is one not of empowerment, but of romance being the cure for an abusive situation. Obviously Evan is in his own situation and that can't be helped, but it feels as if the narrative doesn't know there's any danger in that situation. As is touched on in books like Heather Demetrios’

    , turning to romance as a cure for abuse can lead to further abuse. Abuse survivors sometimes lack support systems - true for Evan - or the type of self-esteem they need - also very true for Evan.

    I know getting pissed off at cure-romance tropes in books about abuse is basically my brand now, but seriously, this is a really messed-up romance and relationship.

    Evan is a teenager dealing with severe abuse who is still struggling with his sexuality and most importantly,

    🌺 Okay, so Evan has no support system beyond Henry - no family members, no caring friends, not one other person who is aware of the abuse. This is not

    horrible thing; Evan’s situation is difficult and turning to others seems, to him, likely to backfire. If Henry were kind and patient with Evan and allowed him space and a chance to make his own decisions, that might be one thing. But it is my opinion that

    .

    Take this quote [emphasis mine]:

    I am so sorry, but this reads like Henry wants this relationship because he wants to be “the one” who makes Evan feel better. This reads like isolation.

    🌸 Henry, who as we’ve mentioned is Evan’s ONLY CONFIDANTE, gets angry - actually, physically angry - at Evan multiple times during this book for... well, the intention might be Evan's fair-weather friendship, but it

    like Henry is angry at Evan for being unsure about a romantic relationship. Being upset by your friend’s ignorance of friendship is understandable, but Henry’s

    is not an acceptable reason to be angry at Evan. Though the book is later very clear that Evan has wanted this relationship all along, Henry has

    The power dynamic between them is skewed in this situation, something which neither the characters nor the meta-narrative seem to be aware of.

    🌺

    In one major scene, Henry feels abandoned by Evan. He responds to this by yelling at Evan for leaving him and guilting him into a romantic relationship. Evan is given little agency within the scene.

    🌸 The

    are... kinda disturbing.

    So, okay, in one of the first romantic scenes of the book, Henry tries to take Evan’s shirt off his body and see his scars without any sort of consent even after Evan explicitly says no.

    And ignoring that the earlier page 142 quote is sort of badly written, it occurs one paragraph before they kiss. Evan does not ever say yes to said kiss, and the way it was written did not feel totally consensual to me. Here's the passage:

    Okay. So Evan is actually enjoying this moment, and I hate to be a buzzkill, but Henry has

    indication that he is enjoying this or wants this. The last thing Evan has said before this first kiss is “I’m scared” - which is in reference to internalized homophobia, but again, Henry doesn't know that. He is clearly paralyzed. He has not actually said - or really indicated? - that he is attracted to Henry.

    It's not just these two scenes - it's more the trend. There's another scene - I'll try to find the quotes soon - Henry sticks his hand under Evan’s thigh while Henry’s family is in the car and

    , something Evan and I share equal levels of discomfort around. How is sticking your hand under your ex's thigh in a car with your family - when your ex is

    - acceptable behavior?

    I don't know, dudes, it feels like there's barely any consent in this relationship. Almost

    of their kisses are initiated by Henry, and many romantic interactions are initiated when Evan's only outward expression is "no".

    🌺 Though this may be a fault of bad writing,

    In one scene, he goes from smiling in one paragraph to saying he’d like to hurt Evan’s mom in the next.

    Henry is in fact referring to hurting Evan’s abusive mom. But guys, notice the

    ? I did. This feels, to me, like the precursor of an abusive relationship. And Henry is also, as I think this paragraph exemplifies to some degree, sort of angry and threatening around Evan despite knowing Evan is in a physically abusive situation. He says he wants to hurt or kill Evan’s mom multiple times, to a point where Evan feels the need to talk him down, which feels... kinda bad? Talk down your partner from anger all the time, because that's

    healthy.

    This IS a book by an actual survivor of abuse, and I absolutely respect that he was able to tell this story. And aside from the scenes between Evan and Henry,

    The scene with the priest and Evan is one of the most powerful scenes I have read ever. And a few scenes in which Evan's mom is nice to him after weeks of horrifying comments are scarily accurate to experiences I’ve had. It is so valuable to have books about queer abuse survivors in our culture today, and this book was something I was so hoping to love. I'd really recommending reading some

    books about lgbtq abuse survivors - Ashley Herring Blake's

    or Alice Oseman's

    - these two are both ownvoices - or even the damn

    . Books like these are incredibly important, and though I heavily disliked this one, I'm happy books like these are out on the market - that our stories even have a chance to be published is

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  • Marianna

    GREEK MAIN CHARACTER AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAH

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