Bloom is a quiet romance/coming-of-age story written by Kevin Panetta with artwork by Savanna Ganucheau. It uses a leisurely pace to tell a familiar tale, made distinctive by the bakery setting and activity of bread making.
Ari works in the family bakery located in a coastal town. He wants to move to a bigger city with his band of friends, but his father needs his help to keep the struggling business going. Then Hector comes to town to clean out his grandmother’s house and winds up working at the bakery.
Many readers will relate to Ari’s loose vision and aimlessness. He has a goal, but it’s more of a dream than a possibility. As pointed out by other characters, he doesn’t work to make it happen, using the family business and other’s expectations of him as an excuse to avoid making scary steps on his own. He wants to have something meaningful, something his own, but he doesn’t yet know what that might be. He’s full of yearning but not direction.
When it’s pointed out to him that having family, friends, and a job isn’t so bad a life, Ari understands that, but it’s still not what he wants, even though he doesn’t always know what he wants. Hector’s perspective balances out Ari, helping him grow up and understand other points of view.
This is a book to devote a good amount of time to, as incidents develop slowly. The authors seem more interested in showing a realistic wander through life events than following one succinct storyline through tight editing. I particularly liked when they go see Night of the Comet, a cult favorite of mine.
The story often pauses for double-page montages, capturing moments in time wordlessly with overlapping slivers of observation. Particularly when it comes to the baking, this helps capture the feel of the process, the time spent assembling and creating, or the emotional effect of a moment. The character work is lovely and expressive, building up the cast members beyond the explicit text.
A late, overly dramatic event is the most artificial element. It feels forced to create a decision point, and that story manipulation isn’t in keeping with the slow development that permeates the rest. Given the similarities in setting, season, and mood, this might be a good followup to This One Summer.
I liked this book better the more I read it. While the first time through left me feeling “eh”, followups put me more in sync with what it was trying to do. It was a reading similar to letting dough rise. (Review originally posted at Good Comics for Kids.)