The Dangerous Art of Blending In was really brutal…but also hopeful.
No, no, you didn’t need your heart intact in anyway and if you thought you did…ah ha. No. Read this book and cry a little on the inside (and hey this got me all emotional and I’m a well-known Vulcan piece of bread). This book hugely features domestic violence and hiding who you truly are because of fear and how it feels to just desperately crave love. It’s also #ownvoices and you can really feel the ache of the author’s personal experiences in here.
Someone get me a bucket. I’m cosplaying a waterfall.
+ The domestic violence aspect was so heartbreaking.
Evan is beaten and psychologically abused by his mother, who claims he’s “evil” and full of “sin”. So it is a bit of a look at how people can hide their mental illness behind religion too. (I don’t think the book says “religion is bad” at ALL, but I do think it points out how often it can let down minorities). It’s…it’s so hard to read…Evan is really broken inside as well as out and believes he’s ugly and unworthy and festering with sin. He’s trying to be the “perfect Greek son” but he’s an artist (an unworthy occupation according to his mother) and also gay.
And, worse, everyone in his life just stands back and lets it happen!?? His dad never stands up for him and just takes him out for donuts to “make up for it”. It’s important that the book pointed at this though: SO OFTEN people in abusive situations are left because others pretend it’s not happening.
+ Evan is such a lovely character!
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 pushes away people who ARE nice. He literally doesn’t know how to handle kindness. I’m glad the book showed the psychological damage of abuse, not just the bruises.
+ It’s not a “salvation through romance” story at all.
(SO RELIEVED.) I loved Henry and Evan and how they were best friends first! I do wish we’d known Henry a little deeper though?! But my favourite thing is how loyal he was to Evan, even when things were awful, and they are a delightful cinnamon pair and I want them to have a good lifeeeeee.
+ So much Greek Culture!
All the food and the church gatherings and the family dynamics…hELLO GREEK! Also the food sounded delicious and I may have eaten my paperback.
+ Also this is such a personal #ownvoices story.
The author’s note at the back is 500% guaranteed to make you realise your STONE COLD HEART IS ACTUALLY BEATING. OMG. The author says this is super close to his own story and was a way of actually working through his own past and…afjdksld. It makes my heart very full when authors really share intimate pieces of their lives like this. MUCH RESPECT. I know this book is really going to help so many struggling teens know they’re not alone.
+ My only critique is that it felt like a debut.
Haha okay that was super specific, Cait, you bucket. SORRY. And look, I’m a debut author this year, so I’m not judging! I’m going to be the same haha. To me, the dialogue often felt clunky and didn’t flow, and it needed more body language to make the emotional lurches believable. (Everyone just went from 0 to 100 real quick.) And there were a lot of HIGH TENSION scenes that could’ve been a little more…terrifying. (WAIT. AM I A BAD PERSON HERE.) Only nitpicks. I can’t wait to see this author’s writing grow with more books!!
ANYWAY I’m a wreck, how are you.
Books like this always stick with me for so long! This is an emotional picnic of the bittersweet reality, heartache, and art. I also think it’s so relatable for people trying to find their way in the world and accept themselves. I was anticipating this book sooo much and it didn’t disappoint. ACK. EMOTION.
THANK YOU TO PENGUIN AUSTRALIA FOR THE REVIEW-COPY. The Dangerous Art of Blending In by Angelo Surmelis is published February 2018.
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.