The Dangerous Art of Blending In
Release date: January 30 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.
This was a hard, emotional book to read but one that, when I was done, felt like I had just read something very important. It wasn’t just a coming out story about a boy finding his sexuality but also about telling the truth about an abusive parent. I believe this was the first book I’ve read with an abusive mother toward a son and it was chilling(as it would be no matter what) to read how much this mother hated her son.
Evan was the type of character who liked to keep everything in neat little boxes. He didn’t like his worlds to mingle. With it becoming harder to hide the abuse and his growing crush on his best friend, Henry, his worlds were starting to mix and it was obviously affecting him. He really just wanted to live his life but he couldn’t, not safely in his own home because of his mother. His father worked so much so he was rarely around and, when he was, he would try to step in but he only ever stopped her for the moment. It was not a healthy situation for Evan.
The book also had a lot of great, positive dynamics. The friendship to more of Evan and Henry was great, not sudden but a slow struggle. Henry’s family was great, funny, and I wish we’d gotten to see more of them. Every person in Evan’s life had some kind of impact of his, even if it was just by staying silent, and all of it was causing Evan’s perfectly separated lines to blend into each other.
What made the book so hard to read was that every time it seemed like something was going right for Evan, there would be something bad right around the corner. The kid couldn’t catch a break. I liked that he was able to have some escape with his art and how connected he was to it. This is a book where I highly recommend reading the author’s notes after because they add a lot to the book as well.
*I received a copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.