Books, Reviews

REVIEW | Bone Gap by Laura Ruby

REVIEW | Bone Gap by Laura RubyBone Gap by Laura Ruby
Published by Balzer + Bray on March 3rd 2015
Genre: Young Adult
373 pages
Goodreads page

Summary from Goodreads:

Everyone knows Bone Gap is full of gaps—gaps to trip you up, gaps to slide through so you can disappear forever. So when young, beautiful Roza went missing, the people of Bone Gap weren’t surprised. After all, it wasn’t the first time that someone had slipped away and left Finn and Sean O’Sullivan on their own. Just a few years before, their mother had high-tailed it to Oregon for a brand new guy, a brand new life. That’s just how things go, the people said. Who are you going to blame?

Finn knows that’s not what happened with Roza. He knows she was kidnapped, ripped from the cornfields by a dangerous man whose face he cannot remember. But the searches turned up nothing, and no one believes him anymore. Not even Sean, who has more reason to find Roza than anyone, and every reason to blame Finn for letting her go.

As we follow the stories of Finn, Roza, and the people of Bone Gap—their melancholy pasts, their terrifying presents, their uncertain futures—acclaimed author Laura Ruby weaves a heartbreaking tale of love and loss, magic and mystery, regret and forgiveness—a story about how the face the world sees is never the sum of who we are.

If you’re looking for a surreal, beautifully-written story with feminist overtones, you’ve come to the right place! Bone Gap is a tale of platonic love and community belonging, steeped in magical realism & mythology. When Finn’s brother’s girlfriend Roza mysteriously disappears, he’s the only witness to the kidnapping – but he’s unable to describe the assailant’s face, and nobody believes him.

Magical realism done right

For me to enjoy magical realism, it can’t be complete randomness and chaos – it needs to have its own internal logic. As far as I’m concerned, Bone Gap does magical realism right: bizarre happenings have clear analogues to equally frightening real-world issues, such as men taking advantage of positions of power, or the perils of stalking and sexual harassment.

Gorgeous writing, unique characterization

When reading YA fantasy-type books, I often expect to be swept away by the plot but indifferent to the prose itself. On this front, Bone Gap blew away my expectations! Well-crafted dialogue and snappy pacing lend a constant sense of movement to an otherwise sleepy midwestern town.

Minor characters felt intentionally unreal, bordering on caricatures or fairytale archetypes. They made up a lush, vivid backdrop against which the main characters played out their relatable insecurities and interpersonal tensions. This isn’t a combination I see very often, but Laura Ruby made it seem completely natural.

Wonderfully lacking in the “bullshit love triangle” department

Love triangles are a pet peeve of mine – I think they’re way overused, especially in YA literature. Although there is good romance in this novel (Sean/Roza and Finn/Petey), the “heart” of this novel seemed to be a celebration of familial, platonic love.

Feminist overtones

No damsels in distress here! Roza and Petey are complex individuals who are perfectly capable of taking initiative for themselves, though of course they accept help from friends when offered. Their stories comment on the ways in which physical appearance is judged in women, and the burdens imposed by extremes of beauty or ugliness.

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