National Book Award 2015 Finalist – Bone Gap by Laura Ruby

November 6, 2015 Bonnie Book Reviews, Read in 2015, YA 1 Comment

National Book Award 2015 Finalist – Bone Gap by Laura RubyBone Gap by Laura Ruby
Published by Balzer + Bray on March 3rd 2015
Pages: 368
Genres: Magical Realism, Mystery
Format: Hardcover
Source: Library
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four-stars

From acclaimed author Laura Ruby comes a fascinating, powerful, and wholly original novel about a beautiful young woman, a haunted young man, and a secretive Midwestern town.

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 ago, their mother hightailed 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 turn 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—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.

‘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.’

Finn O’Sullivan was the only witness to the kidnapping of Roza, his brother Sean’s girlfriend. But when he wrestles with his memories trying to recall the face of the man that took her, he also remembers that she didn’t really put up a fight. So maybe she wanted to leave? It only seemed natural, after their mother left Finn and Sean as well so it would make sense for Roza to do the same. No one in the town believes his story, especially since the only way he can describe the man who took her is that he “moves like a cornstalk in the wind.

Return of Persephone by Frederick Leighton (1891)

Bone Gap, at first glance, appears to be your typical small-town in America where everyone knows everyone’s business no matter how private you strive to keep it. There’s the local brothers that go around bullying people, there’s the rumor spreading and gossip mongering, but then there’s an offhand note about the corn that whispers softly to Finn. The basis of this story stems from the abduction of Persephone myth, which when I realized this made it all the more fascinating. It’s quite evident once you realize this even if it’s only loosely inspired. Pomegranates still manage to make an appearance, there’s the subtle reference to the garden that stopped flourishing as soon as she was gone, and the corns presence in the story becomes much less Children of the Corn when you take into account the connection between it and Persephone’s return.

There are so many enigmatic facets to this story that I could discuss but it likely wouldn’t make much sense to someone who hadn’t already experienced this story. Because an experience is exactly what this story is. Its world-building is obscure, cryptic, and vague. But it’s also fanciful and unconventional and that’s what I loved most about this. Trying to nail this story down to a single genre is a troublesome endeavor, but just know that it’s part mythology, part romance, with large parts of magical realism that is so relentless it often veers into straight fantasy. One of the most innovative stories I’ve read this year.

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