Saturday, June 13, 2015

Bone Gap by Laura Ruby

Laura Ruby's Bone Gap is another recent publication with a blurb from E. Lockhart, whose Ruby Oliver series, Printz Award-winning novel The Disreputable History of Frankie Landau-Banks, and latest hit We Were Liars make her a trusted voice in YA fiction. I did not know what to expect from Bone Gap. It was a recommended title on Amazon, and I ordered it along with preorders for May publications by Sarah Dessen, Jenny Han, and Robyn Schneider. It was completed unexpected: the gripping narrative, magic realism, and compelling characters. I read it in almost one sitting and wanted to share it with everyone I know who reads YA lit right after. 

Bone Gap is a town full of gaps. Things slip through the cracks, and so it's no surprise to the residents of Bone Gap when Roza disappears. She's not from there after all; she showed up one night, and no one thought she would stay. Teenager Finn O'Sullivan knows Roza well. She's been living with him and his older brother, Sean. Finn feels implicated in Roza's disappearance: he was the last person to see her, and he knows his brother can't forgive him for not trying harder to make her stay. But Finn is convinced Roza was kidnapped by a man who moves like the corn. No one believes him, especially because he can't describe him in any tangible way: "The people of Bone Gap called Finn a lot of things, but none of them was his name. When he was little, they called him Spaceman. Sidetrack. Moonface. You. As he got older, they called him Pretty Boy. Loner. Brother. Dude." He's strange, weird, and a little distracted. Ruby writes, 
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 by then it was too late, and the girl they loved most - and knew least of all - was gone.
Although the novel starts from Finn's point of view, it shifts slowly over the course of the novel. The reader finds Roza where Finn cannot, in a strange, shifting world that she's been taken to before. The novel unravels slowly, moving back and forth between the real and the unreal, slowly becoming more than a work of YA fiction. It rewrites Greek mythology, especially Persephone and Demeter. 

The characters are extremely compelling, especially a girl named Petey, who Finn falls for. Her mom owns several bee hives and has a honey company. She's the strangest looking girl in Bone Gap, but Finn doesn't know that. Small town America starts out realistic, but then becomes strange, and different, and mythical. Ruby's novel is one of the best I've read in a while, as mythology is layered across contemporary young adult experience.

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