“Bone Gap” by Laura Ruby (2015)
Genre: YA, Fiction, Fantasy, Magical Realism, Mystery
Page Length: 368 pages (hardcover edition)
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. (description from Goodreads)
Bone Gap is a slow-moving tale set in rural Midwestern town. Our main protagonist is Finn, a teenage boy who is kind of a loner and is known for having his head “up in the clouds”. Finn has a somewhat over-imagination and spends most his time dreaming of an escape from Bone Gap because he feels like he just doesn’t belong.
The story is told in multiple povs, but Finn and Roza’s narrative end up mainly dominating the story. Through the various viewpoints we get a glimpse inside the minds of the main characters and see their emotions as well as their struggles. The scenery of the vast cornfields presented in the town’s landscape makes the residents of the town and the readers of the novel feel that Bone Gap is inescapable This leaves the townspeople feeling trapped mentally and physically.
Bone Gap’s highlighted fantasy and magical realism aspects make the story seem as if it is just one long dream. It reminded me of a previous book I read called, The Accident Season, in which the plot also featured magical realism aspects and the protagonist was in a constant state of dreaming. Bone Gap was a bit easier to follow than The Accident Season, but I still almost put the book down for good. It was a bit too slow-moving at the start, and while I understood this was to set up the story, I started to lose interest.
Even though this story in set practically in the middle of nowhere I felt that I could relate to the main characters feelings of isolation and being lost, every character has some sort of obstacle must overcome. Finn is the only one who doesn’t fit in and because his imagination is always constantly running it allows him to dream of a different life, but prevents him from being connected to others. He struggles to convince the townspeople that Roza was actually kidnapped and didn’t just up and leave the town. But because Finn is always spacing out he’s a bit of unreliable narrator. Is he really telling the truth or is everything just a dream?
Overall this book was just okay for me. The mystery, fantasy, and elaborate details to landscape ends up weaving together a magical tale, but it fell kind of flat. I’m beginning to think magical realism stories aren’t my cup of tea. I feel like I have a harder time connecting to or getting into the stories.
*If anyone has any recommendations of magical realism stories that aren’t as out-of-the-box I’d love to hear your suggestions.