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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 than friends And it s Henry who makes him believe that he s 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 [KINDLE] ✽ I Blame The Scapegoats By John O& – 9facts.co.uk 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 ➠ [Epub] ➚ Beneath the Earth By John Boyne ➪ – 9facts.co.uk isolated ➶ [Read] ➲ Gagged By Richard Asplin ➾ – 9facts.co.uk scared Evan s only escape is drawing in an abandoned church that feels as lonely as he is And ❴Download❵ ✤ Aristocrats Author Stella Tillyard – 9facts.co.uk yes ❰PDF / Epub❯ ★ A Dark and Twisted Tide (Lacey Flint, Author Sharon J. Bolton – 9facts.co.uk 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 than friends And it s Henry who makes him believe that he s than his mother s harsh words and terrifying abuse But as things with Henry heat up [KINDLE] ✽ Wild Horses (Saddle Club, Author Bonnie Bryant – 9facts.co.uk and his mother s abuse escalates ❰Reading❯ ➺ At Sixes And Sevens Author Rosie Harris – 9facts.co.uk Evan has to decide how to find his voice in a world where he has survived so long by avoiding attention at all costs


About the Author: Angelo Surmelis

Angelo Surmelis was raised in Greece until he immigrated to Illinois at the age of five He currently lives in Los Angeles An award winning designer, Surmelis has been featured on over fifty television shows, including the Today show and Extra, as well as in magazines such as InStyle, TV Guide, and Entertainment Weekly He has worked as a host on networks like HGTV and TLC He can be found online at www.angelohome.com.



10 thoughts on “The Dangerous Art of Blending In

  1. Elise (TheBookishActress) Elise (TheBookishActress) says:

    I am so sorry, but I am not 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 the romance itself is an on fire garbage can I want to get into the romance as a character arc thing first, as it s a good introduction Evan doesn t have an arc in this book beyond the messily written one he has because of Henry And obviously, I am so sorry, but I am not 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 the romance itself is an on fire garbage can I want to get into the romance as a character arc thing first, as it s a good introduction Evan doesn t have an arc in this book beyond the messily written one he has because of Henry And obviously, that s an annoyance in any book, right It s a little boring But in a book about a suicidal boy trying to recover from abuse, it s downright disturbing The most important thing in getting out of an abusive environment is a strong support system A romantic relationship that could turn abusive itself Not a good cure 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 all begun a recovery process, even an inner one, and the narrative of this book is not, in my opinion, cognizant of the delicacy of his situation with Harry 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 I definitely have a penchant for getting slightly annoyed at the prevalence of cure romance tropes in books about abuse But I want to make it really clear I think romances can be done well, and handled respectfully Obviously Evan, were he a real life person which he is not , would be in his own situation that might not conform to real world standards of health but again, it feels as if the narrative doesn t know there s any danger in a romantic situation As is touched on in books like Heather Demetrios Bad Romance, turning to romance as a cure for abuse can be a really simple transition to further abuse abuse survivors sometimes lack support systems necessary to leave future bad relationships true for Evan or the type of self esteem they need also very true for Evan And it s this fact, above any other, that makes this specific romance so completely disturbing why this romance feels toxic a discussion Evan is a teenager dealing with severe abuse who is still struggling with his sexuality and most importantly, has no support system beyond Henry Evan has literally no support system beyond Henry no family members, no caring friends, not one other person who is aware of the abuse This is not inherently 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 the dynamic between Evan and Henry in this situation leaves Evan a lack of choice in proceeding with this relationship.I think this is a narrative problem, but the writing of the romance makes it worse Take this quote emphasis mineapproximately page 99 Evan, he whispers I want to be the one that makes you feel better approximately page 143 Ev, I want to be the one you trustI 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 reads 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 desire for a romantic relationship with Evan 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 no way of knowing that. The power dynamic between them is skewed in this situation, something which neither the characters nor the meta narrative seem to be aware of Perhaps as a result of this problem, Henry s prioritization of his own feelings over Evan s is disturbing at best 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 sceneapproximately page 142 I stand there silent and in awe of this boy in front of me who is so raw, trusting, open This one person who has never judged me You have to say something Don t leave me out here alone and don t you dare fucking leave What That s what you do You just leave Don t do this to me Not now I m fucking putting out so much stuff and if you just pull your shitThe consent issues are there, and especially noting the previous issues, vaguely disturbed meapproximately page 99 I m staring at the statue and and I shift my body slightly away from Henry He takes the waistband of my of my sweatshirt in his hand and pulls me in a bit I put my head down, still turning away He nudges himself even close and starts to slowly life the shirt over my head I feel paralyzed, scared, thrilled I stop him Henry Please He s close enough that I can smell the mint chip ice cream on his breath Henry whispers, Ev, I want to be the one that helps you feel better Using whatever willpower I can grab on to, I pull away and say No This isn t what you want What I wantSo, 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 This is not isolated 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 passageapproximately page 143 Instead I say, I m scared Me too, but also not scared He walks over to where I m standing He s now right in front of me My skin feels tingly He grabs the bottom of my shirt with both hands and pulls me close to him I stop breathing He shifts himself even closer and starts putting his hand under my shirt toward my back I feel paralyzed, scared, thrilled As if ice water is pumping inside my body He leans in closer I can feel his breath on my skin He whispers, Ev, I want to be the one you trust he leans in and kisses me, full soft, hard, and without any hesitationOkay So Evan is actually enjoying this moment, and I hate to be a buzzkill, but Henry has no 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 that he is attracted to Henry or that he actually wants Henry to kiss him There s another scene, and I would love if someone would send me the quotes because I seem to not have photographed them, in which Henry sticks his hand under Evan s thigh while Henry s family is in the car and while they are on the outs, 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 not even out of the closet acceptable behavior If one of these scenes occurred and every other scene had clear consent, I would not be too bothered relationships and consent for stuff like kissing can be complicated But I don t know, dudes, it feels like there s barely any consent in this relationship Almost all of their kisses are initiated by Henry, and several romantic interactions are initiated when Evan s only outward expression is no As a trend in the book, Henry reads like he has no respect for Evan s boundaries Another element that feels like it might be a result of bad writing, but is frightening considering the context Henry has extreme mood swings and his moods and emotions seem to change on the dot In one scene, he goes from smiling in one paragraph to saying he d like to hurt Evan s mom in the nextapproximately page 143 He turns to me, smiling Where are we going I briefly glance back at him and then I look back at the road Patience In a moment I say, I shouldn t believe in anything Sometimes I don t I used to pray for God to help me and that never happened, but maybe that s the way it works I know what I want to do would causepain and trouble for you Henry s voice sounds dark. Henry is in fact referring to hurting Evan s abusive mom, which we ll talk about, but guys, notice the huge mood swing not to mention making the event entirely about himself I did This feels, to me, like the precursor of an abusive relationship Henry is also, as I think this paragraph exemplifies to some degree, sort of angry and threatening towards people hurting Evan, due to knowing Evan is in a physically abusive situation And I want to be careful with this, because like, mood, Henry But in most cases, telling someone you want to kill their mom is not an actually good way to handle abuse Henry says he wants to hurt or kill Evan s mom multiple times, to a point where Evan feels the need to talk him down, and it feels bad talking down your partner from anger all the time is not 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, I don t think this book was completely horrid The scene with the priest and Evan is super powerful 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 Beyond that, it is so valuable to have books about queer and lgbtq abuse survivors in our culture today, and it s arguably revolutionary we have any Whether you re reading this or not, I d really recommend reading some great books about lgbtq abuse survivors I m a fan of Ashley Herring Blake s How to Make a Wish, an ownvoices book featuring a bi lead and sapphic romance, and Alice Oseman s Radio Silence, by a bisexual author and featuring a gay lead and mlm romance There s even the damn Raven Cycle which is not ownvoices That our stories even have a chance to be published is amazing But I just can t recommend this in good conscience Blog Goodreads Twitter Youtube


  2. C.G. Drews C.G. Drews says:

    Oh wow this was both heartbreaking and hopeful and brutal 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 It s full of art and abuse and hiding who you truly are and the absolute craving of love Someone get me a bucket I m cosplaying a waterfall It s about domestic violence and it s so so heartbreaking.Evan s mother basically hides her not named but very ob Oh wow this was both heartbreaking and hopeful and brutal 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 It s full of art and abuse and hiding who you truly are and the absolute craving of love Someone get me a bucket I m cosplaying a waterfall It s about domestic violence and it s so so heartbreaking.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 sit s so hard to readEvan 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 Evan is such a gorgeous character though.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 is nice to him, he pushes them away It s SO good the book didn t just show the depth of physical abuse, but it actually outlined the effects too AND EVAN AND HENRY WHAT A GIFT.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 intoand how they learned to take care of each other and afldksad Also, epically, the romance wasn t a oh Henry s here to save him Henry is not the salvation EVAN is his own salvation Bless The story wasn t super fast, but in a good way 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 a lot of religion and I don t think the book slams religion or anything, but it reminded me of Autoboyography in that it DID point out where religion often ignores fails condemns minorities Also this is a hella personal ownvoices story.There s an author s note in the back, and I think this is like super 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 My literal only critique is that it felt like a debut.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 neededbody language Like everyone went from 0 to 1000 REAL fast and I would ve likedindications of the mood from showing. 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 withbooks ANYWAY I M A WRECK, HOW ARE YOU.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 Maybe I m not so ugly after all Maybe no one is really ugly, and maybe no one has the right to call someone that or tell them that they are Maybe the only real ugliness is what lives inside some people


  3. Korrina (OwlCrate) Korrina (OwlCrate) says:

    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.


  4. Kai Kai says:

    Here s the deal about never being authentically loved by your parents The most fucked up gesture or morsel of compassion is like a warm blanket I haven t made my mind up completely about this book One the one hand, it is a truthful and painful novel that makes it hard for you to swallow On the other hand, it feels like big chunks of characterisation and plot were missing Let me try to elaborate Evan grows up in a strict and religious household His mother abuses him mentally and physicallyHere s the deal about never being authentically loved by your parents The most fucked up gesture or morsel of compassion is like a warm blanket I haven t made my mind up completely about this book One the one hand, it is a truthful and painful novel that makes it hard for you to swallow On the other hand, it feels like big chunks of characterisation and plot were missing Let me try to elaborate Evan grows up in a strict and religious household His mother abuses him mentally and physically She tells him he is ugly and worthless because he is gay And those are the nice things that come out of her mouth She beats him, throws objects at him and has done so ever since he was a little child She says she does those things because she loves him.Evan s father is loving and dedicated to his family He tries to protect Evan where he can but he still doesn t do enough.Here come the spoilers, so stop reading here if you do not want to knowA relationship that I do not understand at all is Evan s and Jeremy s friendship Throughout the book, Jeremy is a dick What is worse, he becomes an outright bully and traitor And now I don t get Evan s reaction and thought process about this break of trust, or rather the lack thereof Jeremy is easily forgiven This passiveness and apathy bother me about Evan When he finds out that he told his whole school that he is gay and in love with his best friend he had a blackout and can t remember this situation but later sees a video of it he doesn t even give it much thought Honestly, this would have made me break down and cry and hide for days on end But Evan hardly gives it a second thought You could argue that this shows how people react differently to certain situations, but to me, it felt like this and a few other scenes weren t given enough thought.What also bothers me is that Evan s vicious and violent mother doesn t suffer any consequences for all the harm she did him I wondered where Evan s anger was about all the death threats and scars he had suffered from her I wondered how Evan s best friend found out about this abuse but also lacked a reaction that wasforceful than a simple You know I want to kill her, right.Evan was so helpless and alone and what I wished for him and for the teens that might read this book and relate to him was a solution In the end, Evan turned 18 and moved out But why did no adult ever help him Why did his best friend not even suggest going to the police Why were no alternative solutions brought up Anyway, I m glad to add another Own Voices author to my list and want to celebrate that there areandqueer authors out there who are given an opportunity to have their voices heard And I m intrigued to find out what else Angelo Surmelis might be writing in future.Findof my books on Instagram


  5. Sana Sana says:

    This book was heartbreakingly sad and the authors note just broke me It s about parental abuse, coming out and finding your voice in a harsh and judgmental world Also this is a ownvoices novel However, I didn t like how Henry kept saying I ll be the one to help you I want to be the one you trust Yikes I really didn t feel their romance either There s a lot of consent issues Henry kissed Ev without permission when he told Henry THAT HE WAS SCARED AND NOT SURE.Overall, it s an okay bo This book was heartbreakingly sad and the authors note just broke me It s about parental abuse, coming out and finding your voice in a harsh and judgmental world Also this is a ownvoices novel However, I didn t like how Henry kept saying I ll be the one to help you I want to be the one you trust Yikes I really didn t feel their romance either There s a lot of consent issues Henry kissed Ev without permission when he told Henry THAT HE WAS SCARED AND NOT SURE.Overall, it s an okay book and I liked it minus the unhealthy romance Also, those descriptions of the Greek food got me hungry, yum.3.5 stars


  6. Tucker (TuckerTheReader) Tucker (TuckerTheReader) says:

    Many thanks to HarperTeen for sending me a copy in exchange for an honest reviewI both loved and hated this I think that this type of story needs to be shared so as to stop others like it from happening That said, it always breaks my heart to see young people, albeit fictional people, being abused and harmed in this way I just wanted to step in and brutally murder Evan s mom Justifiable homocide is a thing, right and send him off to his own gay palace All in all, this book broke my heart Many thanks to HarperTeen for sending me a copy in exchange for an honest reviewI both loved and hated this I think that this type of story needs to be shared so as to stop others like it from happening That said, it always breaks my heart to see young people, albeit fictional people, being abused and harmed in this way I just wanted to step in and brutally murder Evan s mom Justifiable homocide is a thing, right and send him off to his own gay palace All in all, this book broke my heart and then mended it just to break it again Goodreads Blog Pinterest LinkedIn YouTube Instagram


  7. Peter Monn Peter Monn says:

    Such a beautiful book My full review will be up on my booktube channel at Such a beautiful book My full review will be up on my booktube channel at


  8. BookNightOwl BookNightOwl says:

    This story is heartbreaking and sad This story deals with some heavy issues such as physical and mental abuse, suicide, and coming out This coming of age book deals with Evan who comes home from camp confused about his sexuality and what he wants in life Evan s mother is a strict immigrant greek mother who wants him to be a good christian boy Evan feels like he has no support from his family or from his friends This story tugged at my heart and I feel like it should be read by everybody.


  9. Sylwia (Wish Fulfillment) Sylwia (Wish Fulfillment) says:

    Entertainment rating 5Reader health rating 2Settling for a 3.5 overall Content warnings verbal, mental emotional, and physical child abuse on the page violent child abuse, homophobia, bullying, assaultDisclaimers I m a therapist and I work in child welfare, therefore child abuse is a topic I think about 8 hours a day, 5 days a week.I felt very angry while reading this because of the reviews I read from other reviewers The abusive mother is this novel does not have a mental health diagnosis Entertainment rating 5Reader health rating 2Settling for a 3.5 overall Content warnings verbal, mental emotional, and physical child abuse on the page violent child abuse, homophobia, bullying, assaultDisclaimers I m a therapist and I work in child welfare, therefore child abuse is a topic I think about 8 hours a day, 5 days a week.I felt very angry while reading this because of the reviews I read from other reviewers The abusive mother is this novel does not have a mental health diagnosis Blaming mental illness for child abuse is denial and ignorance People choose to abuse others Abuse is not something that your brain chemistry forces you to perform Can some individuals diagnosed with a mental health disorder also be abusive Sure But those parts of them are unrelated We could argue about personality disorders, but then we d just be getting technical and we would not focusing on what really matters here not perpetuating abusive behavior.Why I Recommend Bumping This DOWN On Your TBR Is this kind of reading experience necessary Is it okay for us to be reading to be entertained by a story of someone being abused Was this informative enough to excuse using abuse as a plot device I don t think that this was informative enough I don t think that this would help an abused child feel validated or know how to reach out for help This isof a memoir turned into fiction I also don t think this should be marketed towards young adults, if only because I don t feel like it would benefit a young reader.Why You Might Bump This Up On Your TBR I should mention that the protagonist is gay and in love and that I enjoyed the writing style very much and couldn t put this work down This is a believable portrayal of what it s like to grow up being physically abused It was so believable that it was angering to watch all of the other people observing Evan from the sidelines and not doing anything to help him, including his father and pastor I appreciated that the author included hotlines and resources at the end The way that the author slowly moved the story forward kept me in a mental and emotional anguish, and I give the author credit for creating that experience for the reader While I appreciate that this topic was covered, I don t envision this opening the eyes of a reader who has never learned about child abuse before, and that s what I would have wanted it to do


  10. Stacee Stacee says:

    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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