Scott, Elizabeth. Bloom. Simon & Schuster, 2007. ISBN 978-1416926832. 240 pp. $8.99
Lauren is like a seed, germinating, and still not sure of herself, mostly content but not really HAPPY, in spite of having a perfect, popular and NICE boyfriend, decent friends, good grades. This story of her attraction to the new boy at school, who turns out to the son of one of her father’s previous girlfriends, unfurls like a rose as she battles attraction and lust, weighing what she feels for Evan against her warmth for Dave, a jock with a heart of gold and strong religious convictions.
Told in first person with the immediacy of present tense, the voice was solid and clear throughout. Details of the high school social scene (including language) and first magnetic attraction are spot on. Don’t pass this off as just another teen romance; it’s deeper than most, perhaps because of the interwoven subplot of Lauren’s (non) relationship with her father. Her mother deserted the family when she was young, leaving Dad and his string of girlfriends to help her negotiate womanhood and relationships. Best friend Katie, whose own life sounds like an ABC afterschool special, is a strongly drawn supporting character.
Scott is careful to not give away too much, and skillfully creates a denouement that is as eye-opening to Lauren as to the reader–without making us feel stupid for not seeing it–and she creates a great deal of empathy for her flawed but real character. As Lauren points out at the end, “Nothing real is perfect.” and it is indeed her imperfections and uncertainties that make her so believable and likeable.
Scott’s one to watch; recommend Bloom to fans of Garret Freymann-Weyr’s excellent Stay With Me.
Review by Beth Gallaway