Anyone who knows me will know how much I adore graphic novels, and Bloom is no different. I picked it up a while back in Forbidden Planet after seeing the book recommended on Instagram a few times, and luckily they had a copy in stock!
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.
One of the main things that stuck out to me with this graphic novel is the colour palette used. The majority of graphic novels use a variety of colours and shading to bring the art to life, but this one used a variety of shades of blue – a decision that worked incredibly. Seeing the panels come to life with the different tones of blue, the characters bathed in different hues depending on the time of day – all of it was stunning.
Bloom focuses on two main teenagers; Ari, who desperately wants to move away from his life at the family bakery and start a life for himself with the band he plays in, and Hector, an avid baker who has temporarily moved to town after the passing of his grandmother. Ari can be a little agitated at times, but has a good heart and strong determination. When he first meets Hector, he starts off as a little bossy and snappy, but deep down is a very soft-hearted character. Hector comes across as shy at first – we later learn that he is still dealing with the memories of his last relationship, and doesn’t quite know how to move on when his ex is still one of his close friends. The two meet when Ari is desperately trying to hire a new baker for the shop, and Hector happens to be the perfect fit.
The two hit it off and there is a playful yet flirty air about them. While Ari constantly moans about having to work at the bakery, he is surprised at how well Hector takes on the role and puts every ounce of care, passion and attention into making the various breads and pastries for sale. These panels are gorgeously illustrated, and the food looks delightful every single time it’s featured. Slowly you see the boys fall for each other, despite Ari flicking back and forth between wanting to help Hector and wanting to run off with his band mates. Speaking of his band mates, all of them are great and supportive other than Cameron – he’s toxic and can be very cruel to Ari at times, and never considers the family situation he’s in. It’s always good to see these characters though, as Ari ultimately grows when he finally realises Cameron is treating him like dirt and tosses him to the side.
Family and friend relationships are so important in Bloom, especially Ari’s relationship with his father. He doesn’t understand why Ari is obsessed with leaving with the band, and wonders why he isn’t happy with working in the bakery. At the start, they snap at each other and never care about the others viewpoint. But by the end, the understanding is clear and the characters ultimately manage to put aside their differences and see where the other was coming from. It did make me a bit tearful towards the end, a mix of happiness and sadness.
Final thought: A graphic novel to bloom feelings of happiness, even in the coldest of hearts. 5/5