December 14, 2017

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The Dangerous Art of Blending In by Angelo Surmelis | SLJ Review

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redstarSURMELIS, Angelo. The Dangerous Art of Blending In. 336p. HarperCollins/Balzer + Bray. Jan. 2018. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9780062659002.

Gr 10 Up –Evan Panos is living in an undeniably abusive home. Some of his earliest memories are of his mother’s undying rage against him. His father keeps telling him that she’ll get better, but what does his father ever do to stop it? The teen lives his life one day to the next, in silence, waiting for his 18th birthday. Until his best friend Henry becomes handsome over the summer. Until the boy Evan kissed at Bible Camp comes to visit. Evan can’t keep his life carefully compartmentalized if everyone refuses to stay in their own place. In this heartrendingly realistic account of a boy just trying to cope, Surmelis gives readers a protagonist to truly cheer for. The afterword reveals that most of the abuse scenes were taken directly from the author’s own life. But even without that knowledge, this story will leave teens feeling the roller coaster of ups and downs Evan goes through. It is a beautifully crafted story with a realistic yet satisfying conclusion. There is one plot point that doesn’t get touched on again, where the statues in the abandoned monastery Evan escapes to are possibly being moved by someone, but that is the only true criticism found of an otherwise amazing book. VERDICT A must-purchase for all libraries.–Kathryn Kania, Pelham Public Library, NH

This review was published in the School Library Journal November 2017 issue.

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