Evan remains in her clutches, stuck within the bars of her closed fist. All he ever really wanted was to be himself, but with his abusive mother, who manipulates her religion to excuse her cruelty, and his father, who refused to accept his wife’s ways, Evan is stuck. The Dangerous Art of Blending In depicts the struggles and abuse of a boy who only wants to be himself — something that seems nearly impossible. With Dunkin Doughnuts, abuse, and an incredibly emotional narrative, Angelo Surmelis’ debut is not only tragic but hopeful as well.
Evan is used to his mom’s abuse by now. She will hurt him, both physically and emotionally, and then try to win back his forgiveness as if nothing happened between them. And then there’s his father, who never comes to his defense. Basically, the only time he feels even a bit safe is when he is at school or working on his art. But when Evan has to confront the fact that he is gay, everything begins to get complicated. His mom thinks him to be possessed, his father is silent as usual, and Evan is lost. He must fight for who he truly is or let his mother cripple him for good. With page after page of emotionally-gripping material, The Dangerous Art of Blending In is everything YA readers can hope for: tragic, provocative, and sweet at heart.
The Dangerous Art of Blending In struck me to my core. I had previously read this same work in its earlier stages and under a different title, and after reading the finalized version, it’s clear that Angelo Surmelis has created a book that is sure to give teenagers a tool to look at their own struggles to feel understood. Similarly to Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda and More Happy Than Not, The Dangerous Art of Blending In tells a non-traditional coming out story that details the impact of societal and religious pressure on the LGBTQ community today. Surmelis’ work is certain to be one of 2018’s biggest successes in YA fiction.
For those looking to be shocked, brought to tears, and ultimately uplifted, The Dangerous Art of Blending In cannot be more fitting. Evan’s story is one that will remain with me for years to come, his voice being the most impactful I’ve seen in YA fiction for many years. Grab your copy of The Dangerous Art of Blending In, and follow Evan as he surpasses his mother’s expectations and strives to find himself and maybe even love at the same time.