"Francis Wootton's first memory is of Kurt Cobain's death, and there have been other hardships closer to home since then. At fifteen years old he already knows all about loss and rejection - and to top it all off he has a permanently broke big brother, a grandma with selective memory (and very selective social graces) and a mum who's at best an acquired taste. Would-be poet, possible intellectual and definitely wasted in Tyne and Wear, Francis has grown used to figuring life out on his own.Lower Fifth is supposed to be his time, the start of an endless horizon towards whatever-comes-next. But when he is diagnosed with leukaemia that wide-open future suddenly narrows, and a whole new world of worry presents itself.There's the horror of being held back a year at school, the threat of imminent baldness, having to locate his best shirt in case a visiting princess or pop star fancies him for a photo-op . . . But he hadn't reckoned on meeting Amber - fierce, tough, one-of-a-kind Amber - and finding a reason to tackle it all - the good, the bad and everything in between - head on.In Bloom is a bright, funny, painful and refreshing novel about wanting the very best from life, even when life shows you how very bad it can be. It is a novel about how to live."~
I picked this up at the library for three reasons.
1. It was in YA
2. It was new
3. The cover is gorgeous
Mostly it was number 3. This is honestly one of the prettiest covers I have ever seen for a Young Adult book. In my opinion, it can be considered a very "feminine" cover. Thus, it came to a surprise to me that it was written by a male and the narrator was a male.
I had no prior knowledge of this book before going into it. When I saw it on the shelf, it looked vaguely familiar, but I had no clue what it was about or anything. It is possible that I completely missed the point, but I really did not like it much.
When I first started reading I worried it would be another teen book romanticizing illness. I feel like this definitely succeeded in not doing that, which is a win. The characters' illness is just a thing, often forgotten about. However, it did feel like Crow was trying pretty hard to be "the next TFIOS". I get that often authors don't realize this, it's even possible that this novel has been in the works longer, it just gets frustrating to read this type constantly (although it's my fault for continuing to pick these books up).
All in all, I hated the narrator. He was full of himself and incredibly rude to his family. He would go on for paragraphs about how in love Amber was with him...when she never says at any point that she even is in love with him? He is an asshole to his mother. At one point, she is dealing with a situation that is inconvenient for her and become irate because of it. This situation should cause Francis distress too, but the only thing he is worried about is whether or not his mother will still be making him lunch.
When I read books like this, I wonder if readers are supposed to hate the narrator. I mean he is 15 and thinks he knows everything, he has gone through his share of trauma, but it doesn't seem as if he cares. It is also possible that his circumstances have led him to be this arrogant, which adds to his character in a way. However, I feel this would only be a possibility if he was different in the "before", "after", and the rest of the book. Definitely quite the example of an unreliable narrator.
I was hoping the entire novel that maybe with the climax there would be some character progression, but there really was none. In the "after" Francis talked far less about himself, which was a nice break and did show some growth, but it was so short and there really weren't any other differences, it was hard to tell if it was actually just growth or a mistake.
Overall, I really didn't like this book, but would definitely buy it based on the cover alone. (I'm not even kidding the cover is the only thing keeping it from being one star.)