Some of my favorite pieces of media, books or otherwise, are the ones that make me feel as though I have stepped into someone else’s dream. I try to only take them sparingly because I have found that they are either very good (and make me feel a little disconnected from the rest of the world) or are very bad (and make me reconsider reading anything that isn’t purely for lighthearted enjoyment). In Bloom, luckily for me, is definitely one of the very good ones. Finishing the book felt like waking from a dream, and I know I’ll look around the world a little differently, at least for a few days until reality sets in again.
Though I’ve seen the phrase used often enough that I wouldn’t blame anyone for rolling their eyes at my using it, In Bloom really is deceptively simple. From the first few chapters, it appears to be nothing more than the story of Tracy and Elle, each suffering through their own private struggles. Tracy drifts through life, discontented with everything about himself; Elle has recently awoken from a coma with no memories of her life before. At first glance, the two have little in common with each other. They know a few of the same people, but even then, they seem to drift through two separate worlds. Elle is only occasionally mentioned in Tracy’s world, and the same is true of Tracy in Elle’s. However, as the book went on, I slowly gained the sense that the two were connected.
Turner does a magnificent job of building that slow sense of connection and of making the reader’s journey unsettling. The stretches of dialogue with little grounding description, the way the reader discovers Elle’s past and her connection to Tracy just as slowly as Elle herself does, the not-quite-sinister but not-quite-trustworthy Florian Hesse…all of them combine to create an atmosphere that would make any Gothic novel proud. On top of all this, the book is beautiful. It has none of the weighty inevitability I have grown accustomed to in tragedies both ancient and modern; instead, it spins out with an evanescent grace whose light touch was more effective than any heavy-handed sorrow could be. I didn’t know what would come or what to think of what would come. I only knew that I could not look away.
Because reading In Bloom feels rather like reading a dream, it never occurred to me to question it. Even now that it’s over, I find I can’t manage to question even the strangest parts. They simply are, and I would not have them or the book any other way.
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