Bloom by Kevin Panette, illustrated by Savanna Ganucheau
Published in February 2019
Rep: Greek, Samoan, queer
Now that high school is over, Ari is dying to move to the big city with his ultra-hip band―if he can just persuade his dad to let him quit his job at their struggling family bakery. Though he loved working there as a kid, Ari cannot fathom a life wasting away over rising dough and hot ovens. But while interviewing candidates for his replacement, Ari meets Hector, an easygoing guy who loves baking as much as Ari wants to escape it. As they become closer over batches of bread, love is ready to bloom . . . that is, if Ari doesn’t ruin everything.
Writer Kevin Panetta and artist Savanna Ganucheau concoct a delicious recipe of intricately illustrated baking scenes and blushing young love, in which the choices we make can have terrible consequences, but the people who love us can help us grow.
I’m conflicted on my feelings about Bloom; I was told it was a romance but that ended up being the less successful part of the story. I loved the characters and the setting, but there was nothing to make me want to see Ari and Hector together.
Panetta and Ganucheau make a great team. The illustrations and the narrative worked great with each other. The colours sit the beach town setting and the smooth texture made the slow pace of the summer more vivid.
The panels of Ari and Hector cooking were beautiful and their composition reminded my of a romcom montage. They showed that they were getting to know each other, but that connection wasn’t developed enough everywhere else in the book.
Ari is a total asshole and I love him. We share a lot of flaws so I kept being reminded of myself. He’s selfish, doesn’t think before he speaks and doesn’t know how to apologize. Through all that, he still cares so his character development was wonderful.
Hector is a sweetheart, but he doesn’t take any of Ari’s shit. He’s knows where his life is going, but he’s not afraid to take little detours along the way. Hector is who I wish I was, because this guy is perfect. Maybe a bit too perfect; I would have liked to see more of his flaws.
Who doesn’t want to read about two boys working in a bakery and slowly falling in love? In this case the execution didn’t live up to the concept. The romance failed because Hector and Ari are in very different life situations and couldn’t stop thinking that both of them would be better off single than together. Hector knows where his life is going while Ari has no direction. That sort of situation might lead to a strong romance, but with Ari’s general attitude I couldn’t see why Hector would be with him. In a couple of years maybe, but not so quickly.
What I loved
If you hate invisible parents Bloom is for you. Ari’s family is involved in his life, but that doesn’t mean they are perfect. They have complicated relationships, but they throughout the book they talk and learn to understand each other.
On Goodreads Bloom in described as YA, but it’s closer to NA. It touches on moving out and the choices you make as an adult. It normalizes not going to college and not knowing where you are going. If that side of the narrative had been pursued instead of the romance this could have been a five star read.
Do I recommend it?
In the end I was disappointed, but if you don’t go in with high expectations this is still an enjoyable read. Pick it up when you want a sweet story with strong contemporary topics and not when you want to fall into a new ship.