Bloom, Kevin Panetta and Savanna Ganucheau’s LGBTQ+ Young Adult (YA) graphic novel, is a wonderfully illustrated monochromatic work that exemplifies “the grass is always greener.” Ari feels trapped in his family’s small, struggling bakery. Unable to afford college, he yearns to move to the city and pursue a music career with his band. He resents the early, grueling work in the business and his father’s lack of understanding. But during a delivery run, Ari spies a young man who could change his future.

Hector, the young man who catches Ari’s eye, has come to town in order to get his recently deceased grandmother’s house ready to sell, and he’s had to drop out of culinary school in order to do it. He loves to bake and thinks Ari is lucky to have a place in a family-run business. Ari, who appreciates his loving family, nevertheless feels not so lucky. Hector comes to work at the Krykos Bakery, hopefully, to take over for Ari. The two become friends and embark on a sweet, tentative romance.

Writer Panetta captures that fleeting, desperate feeling of young adulthood, where decisions could have lasting consequences and mistakes can ruin lives. Ari and Hector are both likable characters, although Hector comes across as more mature. In reaching out to each other, they are able to see their lives with a new perspective. Both young men are dealing with situations beyond their own control and yet are forced to make very adult decisions about their futures. The question is whether they can do the right thing—meeting their families’ and friends’ expectations while still being true to their own feelings and desires.

Ganucheau’s artwork is beautiful, soft, with a seafoam color palette. It’s still a cartoon style, but with a nod toward realism. Ari’s curls seem to float in the breezes. The best series of panels are often wordless, but convey a lot of emotion. Several pages of Ari in the bakery convey his frustration and lack of enthusiasm for his work, while a few pages later, Hector is pictured lovingly baking in his grandmother’s kitchen. As their romance heats up, disaster strikes. The fallout and resolution are handled realistically with bittersweet consequences for everyone.

From the matte cover artwork to the production art and the recipe for the Krykos sourdough rolls in the back, this is a great read for adults and older teens. There is no conflict over the homosexuality and the romance is fairly chaste, making this a great addition to a YA graphic novel collection, along with works like Heartstopper and Laura Dean Keeps Breaking Up with Me.

By Kevin Panetta
Art by Savanna Ganucheau
ISBN: 9781250196910
First Second, 2019
Publisher Age Rating: 14+

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Character Traits: Gay