Due late January/early February, Bloom by Kevin Panetta and Savanna Ganucheau is another in the First Second graphic novels dealing with growing up and with sexuality and gender themes. This time, Ari and Hector are exploring what they want now that school is over. And part of that learning is they realize they want each other. The interesting thing about this book, compared to the others, is the simplicity in the sexual and identity exploration. This time there is “only” a gay couple. The other books have expanded on the more current events of gender issues. Bloom almost seems chaste and a throw back to when dealing with same sex couple issues was first introduced.
The nice thing about the book (if not necessarily completely realistic) is the fact both Hector and Ari are just accepted as being gay. I would have assumed that Ari’s very Greek, traditional father would have an issue with Ari being gay. Yet, when an issue comes up that makes it seem Hector is a bad influence the father accepts it as just like any other relationship that is “bad” for his child (he felt the man his daughter married was “wrong” for her, too).
There are realistic situations and personalities (a friend of Ari is less than a charmer, they are not the friendliest to Hector, Ari’s jealousy and his immaturity) throughout the story. The two drawbacks I felt was first, there is a lot of illustration and maybe not enough text. This makes it, so you had to fill in some blanks due to the fact some slightly cliché images are being presented (when Ari and Hector start to have their love “bloom”, the flowers on the page start to grow larger). The other issue is every so often you are plunged into a new story arc and not sure how this has happened (due to reading the readers copy, this might be fleshed out better later).
Over all, this is a nice story. It is just another coming of age story that we all can relate to. As mentioned, there might be some unrealistic character features, but that works to make the story just a pleasant read.