Monday, February 18, 2019

Graphic Novel Review: Bloom by Kevin Panetta and Savanna Ganucheau

Kevin Panetta and Savanna Ganucheau
Release: January 19, 2019
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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.

You know those books that not many people you know talk about and they kind of sneak up on you? This was that kind of book for me. I hadn't really heard about it until its release day when my best friend found it in Barnes & Noble and brought a copy home. As big fans of the webcomic/graphic novel Check, Please!, a graphic novel about two boys baking and falling in love was something that checked all of our boxes.

I will admit while I had a couple of little problems with the story this really was a cute graphic novel. But honestly, I fell in love with the art style first and enjoyed the story second. The monochromatic blue color scheme worked so well with the story as did the adorable cartoonishness of the characters. The baking montage pages that were absolutely beautiful and complex and added so much depth to the story. The art is seriously great and I have an overwhelming urge to check out the artist's webcomic because of it.

My biggest criticism for this book was that the story was pretty slow to start and rushed the ending. It also had a few time jumps that overall worked but I think the story would have flowed better if they had added in a few more scenes to explain things. My second criticism really isn't a criticism as much as something that annoyed me. The protagonist, Ari, is the definition of a moody teenager who doesn't know what he wants. I actually didn't mind that but I hated that he was kind of dick to everyone but it really bothered me how he treated Hector who was SUCH a sweetheart from the very first page. There's a part of me that feels like Hector deserves better and was a bit too forgiving about the thing that happens. 

The things I loved about this graphic novel far outweighs my two problems with it. I adored the family aspect of this book and seeing the relationship between Ari and his parents change and seeing how much Hector was an influence for that. I also loved that this is a story about not knowing what you want and that it is okay not to know. It explored different kind of friendships and that is so needed with both the good and the toxic. And even though he's kind of a dick, I found Ari and his struggles relatable. If you substitute out the music stuff with nerdy stuff, you pretty much have me at 18. I have never related to a scene so hard as I did the scene where Ari is sitting alone in a corner listening to music at his sister's wedding until he is forcibly thrown into being social and ends up having a great time.

One thing I really appreciated in this story was how being into someone of the same gender wasn't stigmatized at all. In the story it wasn't something that was focused on but everyone was so chill and supportive about it that it was one of those small things that are really big things. I need more queer stories like this in my life. Also, more stories that take place in family owned bakeries. I've discovered over the last couple of years that this is a setting I love in romances. The downside is that I end up craving all the baked goods and, in the case of this story, spanakopita.

If you're looking for a quick and cute read with lots of pictures, Bloom is definitely a graphic novel you need to look into. I'm going to just be over here with my fingers crossed that we'll get more books about Ari and Hector in the future. Now, if you'll excuse me, I really need to go find some sourdough bread to fill this empty hole in my stomach.

Recommended for fans of: Check, Please! by Ngozi Ukazu

  4 / 5 Stars

Book 3: Subway Uptown- Chef/Foodie Romance

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