It’s true. Sharon Creech’s Bloomability is technically adolescent literature. I’m a believer in adolescent lit; often, it accesses real emotion and dialogue in a way that adult literature somehow misses. I’ve been reading Sharon Creech for several years and I never get tired of her! Castle Corona and Walk Two Moons are also winners, but Bloomability was the first Creech book I read. It’s still my favorite.
Have you ever read a book that you devoured? When you read certain scenes, you could taste, feel, smell, and see? Afterwards you felt as though you’d eaten it, because you took it in so completely. That’s what keeps me coming back to Bloomability. Following the old adage to “write what you know,” Creech successfully used her own moves from the US to Switzerland and England as the foundation for the main character’s experiences.
As do many of Creech’s books, this is written in first-person point of view from the perspective of a young female. Domenica (or “Dinnie”) has lived her whole life as the quiet and well behaved middle child of a family that cannot slow down. Dinnie’s father constantly searches for new opportunity – his favorite word – and has moved the family all over the country, going from this odd job to that. Dinnie’s parents are still in love after years of marriage, her practical mother faithfully supporting and following her dreamer husband. But when Dinnie’s older sister, Stella, has a baby, and her older brother, Crick, is in trouble with the law, Dinnie’s parents arrange for her aunt and uncle to give her a special opportunity.
One reason I find myself reading this book multiple times in a year is the description of the travel, first impressions, and life in a new country. Dinnie describes her new home in a way that is fresh, beautiful, and makes a person want to pack up and head for boarding school. Dinnie’s feelings and thoughts as she goes from an all-American world to a new and diverse place are believable and, in fact, riveting. Creech also takes Dinnie past the surface of beautiful scenery to the depth of the new people surrounding her. They are what make this place a home for Dinnie, and their characters are as well-rounded as her own.
(That’s one thing I admire about Creech. No character that could add to the story is left flat. All are filled out and therefore, the story is, too.)
Though the book has its references to the typical setting of a middle school, Creech prevents Bloomability from falling into the middle school trap by taking us deep into Dinnie’s heart. Her anxiety over her family is something readers can identify with. So much has changed right before and right after Dinnie leaves (or is “kidnapped” as she often refers to it) her home – Stella’s baby, Crick joins the military, and of course her dad packs up the family to move yet again. We can understand Dinnie’s point of view. Before this opportunity, her life had only been a small area; her family. Previously, there had been no distractions. Presently, there are many, and Dinnie’s eyes are opened to the width of the world and the part she could play in it.
Creech brilliantly makes Dinnie unique, but relatable. Dinnie is like us, and that’s why she doesn’t annoy us…but she’s also becoming exceptional, and that’s why we want to know what happens to her during this year in Switzerland. Something will – maybe something wonderful, or drastic – we don’t know. But we want to. And that’s why the opportunity to read this book is worth taking. The story closes but does not conclude, and leaves me with a propelling sense of happiness. I bet it will for you, too.