Let me preface this review by saying that this was due over a week ago, because I am premium trash. And because JM @ Book Freak Revelations, who hosted this book tour, is a treasure of the first water, he forgave me for being late. You are the light of my life, JM!
I’m gonna ask my readers to please cut me some slack for this one, because – pause for effect – I’ve never read and reviewed a graphic novel before. I KNOW, I KNOW. My boyfriend swears I’m the devil or something (for the record, it’s one of two things he and my dad can agree on; the other is that DC has better villains but Marvel has better heroes). So I don’t have the same critical eye with assessing a comic that I do a novel, to say nothing of being able to critique the art! Nevertheless, I will try!
Author: Kevin Panetta and Savanna Ganucheau (illustrator)
Genre: Romance, Contemporary
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.
Trigger warning: Depiction of a burning building, themes of toxic friendship
☕ Plot ☕
MOVE OVER, CALL ME BY YOUR NAME. THIS. THIS IS THE GAY SUMMER ROMANCE WE’VE BEEN WAITING FOR.
I’m sorry to open with that, but here goes. I hated Call Me By Your Name, y’all. So, so much. For me, it perpetuates the age-old stereotype that gay romances are fraught with drama and tension and pain and lack happy endings. ALSO, I DON’T GIVE A ~HEWT~ (channeling my inner Amy Santiago y’all) THAT ITALY’S AGE OF CONSENT IS FOURTEEN. A 24-year-old has no business having sex with a 17-year-old!!! Non, nyet, nein, hindi, nee, voch, lo, iie, and every other word for ‘no’ that can possibly be Googled!!
That said, Bloom is the m/m summer romance you need in your life. Trust me. Exploring the themes of what to do after high school as well as close family ties, Bloom is a multidimensional work that features some sweet-as-pie romantic interludes as well!
Ari’s dilemma is one that a lot of second-gen American kids know all too well: follow what one’s parents want for them, or their own dreams? In this case, Ari wants to pursue his music, while his Greek parents need him to help out more at the bakery. The summer before school starts, Ari decides to try working up the nerve to convince his parents let him travel to the city with his band, while at the same time working part-time at the bakery. At first, just getting up is a daily chore, but then a cute boy named Hector gets a job at the bakery, and Ari finds himself falling quickly.
It’s a simplistic plot, true enough; but this is a hopeful, cheery love story that every reader can surely benefit from. I feel like a ton of teens – both gay and not, but especially gay teens – can relate to Ari and everything going on in his life during the story: his worries over his future, his burgeoning feelings for Hector, his struggles to keep up with his peers, and his relationship with his parents.
Basically, this was Yuri on Ice in a bakery (Yuri on Icing…?) and I am here for it.
☕ Writing and Art ☕
The art was hella cute, okay! I don’t know much about art other than “I like that” and “I don’t like that”, so take my assessment with a grain of salt. But the art was very, very cute.
For the life of me, I have no idea how to quantify this, but the dialogue and the art just worked so well together. The dialogue told me – but without saying so explicitly! – what feelings a certain scene were to elicit from me, and then the art kind of swooped in and made sure that that was what I was feeling. Does that make sense? I’m sorry if its rambly, but whatever team juju Kevin and Savanna have going on, IT WORKED.
A prime example was the (SPOILER ALERT) kissing scene between Hector and Ari. The art on its own made me go, “Eek!” then kinda fan myself a little, but the dialogue before it just made my heart melt into an ooey gooey puddle.
The slow burn was so, so worth it, y’all. Just like the pastries featured in this novel, this sweet, light romance was cooked at the right temperature and came out nice and perfect!
☕ Overall ☕
Bloom is a light, charming summer romance that will leave you with a craving for all kinds of baked goods. If you like happy endings that explore family dynamics, fears about the future, and some delicious traditional Greek pastry recipes, definitely read this graphic novel!