Pretty much everything here originally appeared at my actual blog: By Singing Light. I particularly focus on upper middle-grade and young adult books. I also enjoy adult genre books, especially speculative fiction.
Finn O’Sullivan is used to people leaving him. His father died a long time ago and his mother walked away from him and his brother, Sean, to start a new life in Oregon. But when Roza, the girl who appeared in the O’Sullivan’s barn, is abducted by a mysterious man, Finn is the only one who sees and the only one who won’t give up until she’s found.
Roza herself is actually a point of view character, but when I tried to write a plot summary for her part, it turned out to be horrifically spoilery. But she, no less than Finn, is at the heart of this story and important to it. She is no voiceless damsel; in fact, she is possibly my favorite character.
I’ve liked Laura Ruby’s books in the past–The Wall & The Wing and The Chaos King are complex, inventive stories. But Bone Gap is really something else. It’s a story that combines many of my favorite things, and I truly loved it.
I am a huge fan of stories about families, especially when relationships between siblings are at the heart of the book. This is definitely the case when it comes to Bone Gap. Roza’s disappearance is hard for Finn because she’s his friend, but Sean was going to propose to her. Since she’s disappeared, the brothers barely talk. It’s a hard thread to read because I want so much for them to be all right.
And then there’s the town of Bone Gap. A lot of times “quirky” towns just don’t work for me, but here there’s something deeper and maybe darker underlying the quirkiness. There are bullies and heartbreak and people leave. There’s also corn that whispers to people and possibly magical bees. I got a sense both for why people love the town, and why it is a little bit broken.
Woven into all of this is an echo of fairy tales and mythology that give the story a lot of depth and resonance. It’s one of my favorite fairy tales/myths, and Ruby shows us the dark side of it. (I don’t want to give too much away here, so I’m being cagey. Part of the joy of this book is seeing the pattens come together both in subtle and more obvious ways.) But I think it’s possible to love both the original and Roza’s story. And it says a lot about our world and the way women are treated, which is important but also comes naturally to this particular story and what it’s about.
While there is darkness here, it’s never utterly bleak. I loved the resolution and the sense of hope hard won. I laughed at some parts and cried at others. It’s a beautifully written, emotionally devastating story that will stay with me for a long time.
Book source: ARC from ALA Midwinter
Book information: 2015, Balzer + Bray; YA fantasy