||In Bloom somehow slipped through my ‘no books about young people dying from cancer’ filter. It’s such a naturally emotive subject that I tend to feel manipulated before I’ve even finished the blurb. In Bloom however is an exceptional case.
Matthew Crow writes with so much heart that In Bloom practically beats as you read it. Comparisons between In Bloom and John Green’s The Fault in Our Stars will be inevitable, sharing, as they do, similar subject matter. I liked The Fault in Our Stars (which also snuck through – clearly need a new filter) but read it in that slightly detached way that you do when admiring clever, well constructed books, objectively nodding at certain adeptly used techniques and well placed references. Pleased to identify the workings but longing to be lost in the words.
So, I liked Fault in our Stars, but In Bloom floored me. It became my primary relationship, people faded around me, emails remained unwritten, shops literally flooded and no friend seemed quite as interesting or engaging as the characters in the book.
Crow’s characters are drawn with so many dimensions in such a short space that they defy scientific reasoning. Granny in particular needs her own book, if not her own universe. Matthew Crow’s great intelligence and clever writing is modestly tucked in behind In Bloom’s enormous warmth, humour and self depreciating Britishness, quietly informing every moment. It’s a book about the human interactions and small moments of great heroism that are life when it’s lived with its back up against the wall, all frills stripped bare.
In the midst of the current onslaught of extreme action narratives, it is a joy to be genuinely moved from laughter to tears by characters so insightfully portrayed that you’d have to be dead not to care about them. Real tragedy happens near us, everyday. In Bloom celebrates the exceptional kindness, comedy and sense of the absurd that sits alongside it, holding its hand.
Matthew Crow has created an original teenage hero to join the ranks of the great. Engaging, ridiculous and brilliant all at once. Whether you are 14 or 40, run to your nearest bookshop and treat yourself to a copy at once…