Have you ever read a book or watched a movie where you want so deeply for a protagonist to see how utterly wonderful their life is? It’s almost frustrating that they want to make a change when you meet them, but this instantly morphs to relief as you go on and find out that their arc is to find out that happiness can be found in their current surroundings.
Kevin Panetta and Savanna Ganucheau’s graphic novel, Bloom, is a perfect example of this. In it, we meet Ari, an aspiring musician with a beautiful little existence in a quiet, East Coast beach town. He lives above a bakery. He has a good relationship with his family, who owns said bakery. He has friends who care about him, who probably get free baked goods for life. Did I mention Ari lives above a bakery?
But he wants to leave it all behind to start a music career in Baltimore. Not that I’m against music or anything, but from the outside looking in, I wanna shake Ari (gently) and force him to see how good he has it. Imagine my relief when Hector, a new summer employee at Kyrkos Family Bakery, comes along and does it instead, sans shaking.
With its wistful setting, budding romance, family values, and evocative, pinchable illustrations, Bloom is a quintessential example of a subgenre of Slice of Life I like to call “Your-life-is-so-good-why-would-you-wanna-change-it?” The story and the genre shines in this medium. It’s got expressive, adorable character designs and relatable, realistic dialogue. I especially appreciated the full-page illustrations of baking sequences with atypical, organic paneling, which really highlighted how something like cooking, a typical, everyday task for some, can feel so special with the right people.
There’s so much of simple, carefree living and easy melodrama to savor in Bloom that I didn’t want it to end. It’s true that life doesn’t remain so simple in fiction or real life and that all things come to an end, but I think one of my favorite things about this novel and about the Slice of Life genre is that it really helps me appreciate certain aspects of my own quiet life, past and present.
So, when things do change for Ari by the end of Bloom, the story of his golden summer working with Hector in the bakery lives in my head. I can always think of it, along with my own core memories of summers and beaches and people, and smile.
Enjoy the good life and purchase Bloom here or get a copy at your local library like I did! If there’s some slice of life media you’d enjoy seeing in the column, @ me on Twitter (@frankiemilktea) to let me know. Bye, now!
Frankie Martinez is a writer from California. Her work has appeared in 3 Moon Magazine and Poetically Magazine.