BOOK REVIEW: Bone Gap by Laura Ruby
Faber & Faber
Reviewed by Steph O’Connell
Young Adult / Magic Realism
“Because we don’t have your typical gaps around here. Not gaps made of rocks or mountains. We have gaps in the world. In the space of things. So many places to lose yourself, if you believe that they’re there. You can slip into the gap and never find your way out. Or maybe you don’t want to find your way out.”
In the small town of Bone Gap, sometimes things go missing, sometimes people, and if you listen closely you can hear the corn talking.
When Finn reminded him that, duh, of course the corn was alive, Miguel replied that the corn sounded alive alive. As if it wasn’t just growing, it was ripping itself out of the ground and sneaking around on skinny white roots. Scarecrows weren’t made to scare the crows, they were made to scare the corn. Otherwise, why would so many horror movies have cornfields in them?
Things don’t always behave in Bone Gap like they would in the rest of the world.
Charlie Valentine had ordered his chickens thinking they were a special breed that laid blue eggs. The chickens had laid blue eggs, but they also laid pink and green and brown eggs, too, like every day was Easter. He was going to ask for his money back until he discovered that people driving through town on their way back up to the city would pay a fortune for a dozen Easter-colored eggs.
Even though so many things in Bone Gap are a little strange, Finn’s always been an outsider, but the townsfolk have always thought fondly of him nevertheless.
“Yeah, that boy’s nuttier than a honey cluster,” they might say. “But he’s a fine-looking nut. A sharp nut. Our nut.” Finn, they were sure, had his heart in the right place. Just the way they did.
Eventually, though, they found out that there was a good reason for Finn’s odd expressions, his strange distraction, that annoying way he had of creeping up on a person. A good reason he never looked anyone in the eye.
But after the disappearance of the stunningly beautiful Roza, the people of Bone Gap are looking at Finn a little differently. Like maybe he was involved. Why else would he fail to identify the man he says he saw take Roza?
The funny thing was, the people of Bone Gap shouldn’t have taken to Roza at all. She was a stranger who had appeared out of nowhere and wouldn’t say where she’d been, a girl stranger taking advantage of those “poor motherless boys.” Sean told Finn and Roza not to be surprised if the people judged, as the people always did.
Roza, kidnapped by a man who tells her he won’t touch her until she wants him to and asks her over and over again if she loves him yet, tries to escape the man who wants her for her beauty.
She said, “Why do you want me?”
“Why? Because you are beautiful.”
“There are a lot of beautiful women.”
“You are the most beautiful.”
If she hadn’t been drugged or dreaming or in a coma, she would have cried. She would have cried if any of this was real, or if she hadn’t already cried herself out.
She didn’t cry. She said, “That’s not who I am.”
The people of Bone Gap attempt to move on, to accept that she just left. Finn and his brother Sean barely talk; everyone looks at Finn more closely than normal; but Finn never gives up the search for Roza, even if he is a little distracted by Priscilla “Petey” Willis.
Priscilla Willis turned her dark, wide-set eyes on him. The people of Bone Gap said it made sense that Priscilla Willis was born into a beekeeping family, because she resembled nothing so much as a bee. But Finn didn’t want to hear what they had to say about Priscilla, because the weight of her gaze felt like a hand on his shoulder.20
Or a slap across the face.
Bone Gap is a tale about growing up in small towns, about things that aren’t all as they seem, and about broken people.
But more than all these things it’s about beauty and love. It’s about the kind of beauty that people want to capture and own and about the beauty that is in the eye of the beholder.
“If I were as gorgeous as Roza, I’d smile all the time,” Amber said, glancing at the clots of guys assembled in the dank, dim basement. “We should all be that gorgeous.”
Petey swirled the red liquid in her cup, thinking about how Amber wanted to pose Finn like a doll in the corner of her room. “Being gorgeous might be more trouble than it’s worth.”
“I’d be okay with that kind of trouble,” Amber said.
It’s about the love between friends who would do anything for each other; love of the new and “first time” variety; the love between brothers, even when those brothers have been torn apart time after time; and the love that can heal and destroy in equal measures when it both appears and disappears without a word.
This book is made up of beautiful, quirky, off-beat writing, and were there not rules against it and had I the space, I hazard a guess that a large majority of this book would end up quoted here. It is beautiful to read, and it has a strange “otherness” that will keep you turning the pages.
Sadly, though, there is not a lot of resolution here.
Readers never do find out what it is that makes Bone Gap the way it is, why there are these gaps, where the man came from who took Roza, the story behind his power.
There is a lot in this book to love, a lot to make it worth the read. But if you’re the kind of reader who wants everything answered, you’re likely to feel some measure of disappointment upon reaching the end.
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