By: Laura Ruby
Publisher: Balzer + Bray
Publication Date: April 26th, 2016
Everyone knows Bone Gap is full of gaps.
So when young, beautiful Roza went missing, the people of Bone Gap weren’t surprised. But Finn knows what really happened to Roza. He knows she was kidnapped by a dangerous man whose face he cannot remember.
As we follow the stories of Finn, Roza, and the people of Bone Gap, acclaimed author Laura Ruby weaves a tale of the ways in which the face the world sees is never the sum of who we are.
I blame my parents for starting me on my love of slightly creepy magical realism, and also for handing me 100 Years of Solitude to read in high school. Therefore, although I didn’t realize that Bone Gap was magical realism when I picked it up, it made the book all the more intriguing. I immediately fell into the strange, sleepy, creepy world of Bone Gap.
The story is told by Finn, a teenage boy who’s known all around town for being strange, dreamy, and really kind of weird. He’s the only one who saw took Roza, a polish woman who had been living with him and his brother, even though he can’t describe her kidnapper. As he stumbles through the magic that is Bone Gap and tries to figure out what happened, we also get glimpses of Roza’s point of view, and her experience of being kidnapped.
This is a hard book to describe, mostly because of the magical realism, and a lack of a distinct plot. Most of the plot is really just Finn stumbling his way into situations, like suddenly having a horse, and also a summer romance with Priscilla (Petey), a fiery beekeeper, and slowly figuring out what he needs to in order to help Roza. It feels disjointed, and strange, and slightly magical in the way that you’re not really sure what’s going on, but you have the idea that it has something to do with magic. And then on the other hand there’s Roza, trapped in various spaces, trying various methods to get free from her kidnapper, although you really don’t know what’s going on there either, except that her kidnapper is creepy as all get out.
I will say though, that this book seems to be the sort to get turned into a classic down the road. There are some deep metaphors that I didn’t quite get on the first read-through, like the bees and the honey, Roza’s green thumb and her pomegranates, and the character of Charlie Valentine. I might actually end up reading this a second time, just to try and figure everything out in terms of symbols. There is the definite feel that the story of Finn and Roza and Sean and Petey is caught up in a much larger, age-old story, or even mythology.
Of course, there are some modern critiques of rape culture, too, not just in the tale of Roza’s kidnapping, but in her depictions of the men and women she’s encountered in her life. But it pales in comparison to her kidnapper, who is just shiveringly creepy. What flips the rape culture is that most of the story is told from the viewpoint of Finn, but he still has his own viewpoint into what men do and why they might do it, which is interesting.
Despite how really strange and kind of creepy this book was, and how much went over my head on a casual first read, I couldn’t help but like it. Maybe it was the description, of heavy summer air and whispering corn and gaps to different worlds. Or maybe it was the characters, all so sharply unique, beautiful in their own rights, able to see things that no one else saw. Or maybe it was that exact feeling, of strange magic and being caught up in a story that was larger than just the book. I don’t know–for whatever reason, I just plain liked it.
Disclaimer: The synopsis and cover picture were pulled from the book’s Goodreads page. Neither belong to us.