Review: Bone Gap by Laura Ruby

bone-gapTitleBone Gap
Author: Laura Ruby
Publisher: Faber & Faber
UK Release Date: 29st December 2016
Genres: Mystery, Magical Realism, Young Adult
Pages: 380
Format: Proof
Source: Local independent bookshop

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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.

In December, I received a proof copy of Bone Gap by Laura Ruby via my local independent bookshop, as I review YA books for them, but I only finally managed to read it at the beginning of February, and finished it off as part of my WiFi-less readathon earlier this month. Admittedly, school work was somewhat to blame for this, but I think I was also a little daunted by it. I can’t think of any magical realism books which I’ve read recently, which leads me to question if I’ve read any ever, and so I wasn’t sure what I was going to make of this. However, rather happily I ended up really enjoying it.

Something I loved about this novel was the characters. They weren’t all likeable all the time, but that was what made them so great – they felt genuine and kept me interested throughout the novel. It’s a tough call, as I grew to love (almost) all of them, but I think my favourite would have to be Roza, as she was brave and she didn’t change herself to fit in. On the whole, she struck me as a really strong female character – and I loved the message at the end about the beautification of women, which made the ending of the book really powerful. Petey was another character who really left an impression on me. She was smart, a little prickly, but ultimately I loved her anyway.

As I mentioned above, I haven’t read any magical realism before that I can remember, but Bone Gap was definitely an excellent first impression of it. I thought the mystical way the world was woven together, and the almost surreal feeling which was encapsulated within many of the situations, combined with the overall tone of the novel left me very impressed. I have read one other novel with touches of magical realism since, and I will definitely be seeking out more.

I also thought the setting was great. Bone Gap as a place was certainly very striking in its descriptions, with all those fields of corn – which turned out to be slightly more ominous than I expected. Laura Ruby managed to capture a setting that really gripped me, with weirdly wonderful motives, like the corn and the bee hives. I also liked the way that real life issues were mixed in with the fantastical; I can’t elaborate beyond this without risking this review being spoiler-y, but I thought it was worth a mention nonetheless.

On the whole, I thoroughly enjoyed Bone Gap; I thought it was a stand-out novel in terms of interesting characters as well as subtle feminist messages, and I will definitely be seeking out more magical realism as well as more novels by Laura Ruby in future.

4-0

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