Originally posted on Leah’s Books.
The Bloom Girls
- Author: Amy Pine
- Genre: Women’s Fiction
- Publication Date: August 3, 2021
- Publisher: Forever
A charming, funny, and utterly engaging mother-daughter story that celebrates family, second chances, and falling in love.
Gabi Bloom doesn’t believe in signs. She believes in photographic evidence, the view through her camera lens, and the snap of the shutter. It’s why she traveled to Europe—to satisfy her wanderlust and to kick off her photography career. But in Ireland, all of that changed when Gabi gazed into the impossibly blue eyes of an American bartender. She wasn’t prepared for their intense and immediate attraction, or the fact that she’d be bringing Ethan home with her … as her fiancé.
Gabi’s upcoming marriage is the cherry on top of her mother’s current predicament. Stumbling toward forty, Alissa is a pastry chef who raised her daughter single-handedly while Gabi’s father traveled the globe. Now her baby girl is getting married after a whirlwind romance and Alissa—well, Alissa is pregnant. Again. And not only is her ex the father, he wants her back. For good. Until she can figure out that part of the puzzle, Alissa is hiding her big little secret even as she helps Gabi plan a happily-ever-after wedding. But somewhere between disaster and hope, life might just bloom in a way that is breathtakingly unexpected …
Within the first chapter, I already knew that I was going to love this book. It’s laugh out loud funny, and that never fails to catch my attention. The characters consistently manage to get themselves in the most hilarious awkward situations, yet the story is also the tale of a perfectly imperfect family learning how to embrace some of their flaws and overcome others to find their happily ending. I loved getting to know this family, and it kind of felt like a Jewish Gilmore girls, with it’s own unique spin.
The story starts with Gabi’s trip to Ireland, after she has graduated from college. She wants to build her photography portfolio, and get her wanderlust out of her system. It seems to be a genetic thing, since her father has the traveling bug. He spent most of her life traveling the world for work, leaving her young mother to do most of the childrearing. But this had a major effect on Gabi’s worldview, combined with seeing the thwarted love story between her parents — their teenage romance endured, but the relationship just never worked out regardless of their feelings.
“Even though the film [Roman Holiday] remained one of her favorites—one she always watched with her mom—it also solidified in Gabi’s mind that never risking her heart of that kind of love was far safer than a possible lifetime of longing.”
The fact that Alissa was a teenage mother who got married early, divorced, yet never really stopped loving her ex also took a big toll on her life as well. They couldn’t make the relationship work because of a variety of factors, but mostly because he wanted to travel the world and she didn’t want to verbalize her own feelings and risk holding him back, which she worried would make him resent her for it. While they were able to raise an amazing daughter and live wonderful lives, there was always something missing. So when Alissa winds up pregnant on the cusp of her fortieth birthday, she realizes that she’s in a tough spot. And she finds herself jealous of her younger sister, who has a very different life:
“But that wasn’t how Alissa’s life worked. Becca was the one with everything mapped out, her entire life going according to one grand, universal plan. Alissa, though…She saw the universe more like an episode of the old MTV show Punk’d.”
Matt, Gabi’s dad, sails back into town, as he does every so often, and finds himself roped into the current hot mess of a situation. His daughter is suddenly engaged to a guy he’s never met, he still sees her as a little girl, his ex-wife is pregnant with his baby, and he’s struggling with his own unresolved feelings. But when he wants to make a change and step back into their lives full-time, it isn’t exactly that easy to do. Because Alissa has some serious walls up:
“‘You want to figure us out, Alissa? Here it is—I’m not leaving. Believe me or don’t. That’s your choice. But I’m in this for real. Are you? Or are you going to push me out the door again?”
But … it also pushes Alissa to start questioning how she relates to not just Matt, but all the relationships in her life. And this was where the story really started getting good for me:
“Had her fear of heartbreak kept not only Matt at arm’s length but everyone else too?”
While this could easily have fallen into the category of romance, it wasn’t simply a romance. It was an exploration of an entire family. While Gabi was falling headlong into her first romance and her parents were attempting a second-chance romance, it was also focusing on the difficulties of a later in life pregnancy, navigating difficult family relationships, the damaging potential of secrets in a family, and also the importance of found family. Because in this huge messy group of people, there were also non-related people relying on each other like family members. And I found my own identification there. I’ve had close friends for so long that they’ve become practically siblings. I’ve had a sibling get married when I was really young, so that she was such a huge part of my life that even after they divorced, she was (and is) still my sister. And that’s why I loved how Miriam (the long-lasting best friend) and Sadie (the former sister-in-law) were included in the family group, actively joining in with family functions and holidays and all the important parts of the story.
The book ends on a tiny bit of a cliffhanger, but the author drops a hint in the interview at the end of the book that there’s more to come, so I’m absolutely hoping that this is a series. Because I am totally not ready to let this family go.