The Unstoppable Bridget Bloom

HarperTeen. May 2023. 352p. Tr $19.99. ISBN 9780063266704.
Gr 8 Up–Stardom is Bridget Bloom’s destiny. The talented performer was born for the spotlight, and she wants everyone to know it. Bridget believes her talent is wasted in her tiny Nebraska town, so when she gets the opportunity to go to a prestigious boarding school in Chicago, she jumps at the chance—even though it’s way more than her dads can afford. But it turns out that natural ability will only get you so far, which Bridget finds out when she fails her music theory exam. This means no entry to her chosen program, no sponsors to pay her tuition, and, worst of all, no performing. When Bridget tries to contest the decision, the dean of students challenges her to act more humbly. As she embarks on this journey toward humility, Bridget tries new musical activities, makes new friends, and learns that being the center of attention may not be the only path to success. Bridget’s flaws, particularly her self-absorption, are some of the focal points of the story; while this feels authentic to the character and necessary in order to demonstrate her growth, it can be monotonous and difficult to read at times. The romantic arc of the story is enjoyable, if a bit predictable. Bridget is fat, a matter-of-fact aspect of the story, and weight is not a plot point. She is white, as are most secondary characters; the father of Bridget’s friend Liza is of Filipino heritage, and other characters identify as queer.
VERDICT Libraries with large communities of rom-com readers will want to add this to their collections; recommended for fans of Becky Albertalli’s Kate in Waiting and Robin Talley’s The Love Curse of Melody McIntyre.

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