Bone Gap: Review

March 20, 2015 2015, 4.5 star books, contemporary, fantasy, Kim 39 ★★★★½

Bone Gap: ReviewBone Gap by Laura Ruby
Published by Balzer & Bray on March 3, 2015
Genres: contemporary, fantasy
Pages: 368
Format: eARC
Source: Publisher
AmazonIndieboundBarnes & NobleGoodreads
four-half-stars
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.

How do you review an unreviewable book? The entire book reads as if it is a dream. How do you describe a dream? There is an impossibility in trying to make sense of what can not be made sense of. I can try to describe to you the aspects that correlate with reality. But when they take a sudden nose dive into the magical, the inexplicable, the surreal…how do I explain that?

This is a book full of contradictions. It is a fairytale and it is not. It is a love story and it is not. It is a mythical retelling and it is not. On the surface, this is a book about a young woman who has been kidnapped and about her teenage friend’s struggle to come to terms with what happened. But it is so much more than that. What it is is a compelling, tautly told story that conveys the nuances of women’s lives and small town lives and the intersections at which they meet.

It is also an exploration of the way society punishes women for both conforming and not conforming to sexist, patriarchal expectations. There is Roza, so beautiful that she has been kidnapped because she is “the most beautiful woman in the world.” The novel explores the ways that Roza has suffered for her beauty both in her native Poland and in her adopted town of Bone Gap. Then there is Petey, so ugly that her unattractiveness is a constant refrain in the small town of Bone Gap. It doesn’t matter that Petey is a competent beekeeper and keeper of her own self worth. Just as it doesn’t matter that Roza knew the measure of herself as a person beyond her conventional looks.  But this truth remains: Roza and Petey are made of iron and they are the backbone upon which the novel rests.

It is also very much a reflection on how we see (or fail to see) the people we are closest to. And also how we can even fail to see ourselves. There is the creeping sense that so much is going on beneath the surface of the words, and the themes, and the story. And even that I am contemplating what is going on in this book both beneath and above the surface, thinking about it in those exact terms, is an allusion to the mythical roots of the story. This is a deeply clever and well crafted book.

Yes, well crafted. Mostly told through the alternating perspectives of Finn and Roza (with the occasional POV from a supporting character), the story is revealed through flashbacks and quiet moments that creepy stealthily forward. There are so many secrets and layers both to Bone Gap the town and to Bone Gap the book. There are still some things about this book that I didn’t really “get” though I imagine that is also very much the point. I think this is exactly the sort of book that would reward a repeat reading.

I feel unmoored in the reading. There are moments where you question reality. Usually when I read a book I have a good grasp on whether this is a “me” book and even if not I know the type of reader it will appeal to. With this one I have no idea. It floats away from me, drifting on I don’t make such a comparison lightly, but the only thing I could even begin to compare this to is The Raven Cycle. I caught myself at a particular moment fervently chanting “magic is real” just because this book has such a similar grounding in reality yet an inescapable indulgence in the thrilling idea that any flight of fancy could be possible.

I haven’t heard all that much about this book in the blogosphere. I imagine partly this is because it is so hard to pigeonhole. Is it contemporary? Fantasy? Contemporary fantasy? Magical realism? All of the above?  I had little to no idea what this was about before going into it and I think the book is best enjoyed knowing as little as possible. Let the story unfold to you, let the secrets of the characters reveal themselves to both you and to them. Expansive, floating, magical. Lush and dark. Wrought with finely crafted tension and horror but also an inexorable beauty. I have never read a book quite like Bone Gap and I doubt I’ll find its equal in either originality or plot in years to come.

 

An advance copy was provided by the publisher for this review.

 

kim teal

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

39 Responses to “Bone Gap: Review”

  1. Romi

    Ooh Kim, this sounds really interesting! I love the way you describe it as being a love story and not, a fairytale and not- all those it is but it also isn’t’s were things that made me really interested in the story and what it’s about! I haven’t ever heard of this before, but hope to read a few more reviews in the future and see whether or not I think it’d suit my tastes, because right now I’m adrift! Some parts sound like I would like them, others don’t.
    It’s so brilliant when you read a book that is just… something different. It’s truly striking and imaginative and different from everything else you’ve ever read.
    Lovely review. Xx
    Romi recently posted…Nightbird by Alice Hoffman.

  2. Mary @ BookSwarm

    I’ve heard so much about this book and really do want to read it but I’m a little scared! I don’t always do well with books that are so otherworldly (not in the scifi sense, that is). However, your review made me determined to try it out. I’m hoping I love it!
    Mary @ BookSwarm recently posted…Comfort Reads

    • Kim

      If I had known more about it going into it (I knew very little) I probably wouldn’t have picked it up so soon. It really isn’t what I typically think of as a “me” book. But I was so pleasantly surprised! There’s magic on these pages. Trust me. :)
      Kim recently posted…Bone Gap: Review

    • Kim

      Yes! Please, please do bump it up! It definitely deserves it. It was such a refreshing read in a sea of literature that can often became swamped by trends and formulaity.
      Kim recently posted…Bone Gap: Review

  3. Jessica Meyer

    Great review. This has sat on my shelf for a while now and I’ve just…not picked it up. Yes, I’m buried under books at the moment but there is something about this that has kept me away, or it at the bottom of the pile. Your review was great though and I can see this book moving up the list now.

    • Kim

      This book definitely deserves to worm its way to the top of your TBR! And I hope you know how much it pleases my book blogger’s heart to know that my review has helped push this one up for you. It deserves so much more attention than it’s been getting.
      Kim recently posted…Bone Gap: Review

  4. Jen @ YA Romantics

    I loved this too. There were things I didn’t quite understand and things I wasn’t 100% sure were real, but I really enjoyed it once I accepted the fact that I was going to be confused. My review said something like: “read this book and don’t worry if you don’t understand things because you will in the end. Mostly.”
    This would make a fantastic book club book, I think..
    Jen at YA Romantics
    Jen @ YA Romantics recently posted…Trending Thursday: BEA Buzz Books 2015

    • Kim

      Ha! Definitely! It took me a moment when the first fantastical thing happened (what? Now you’re on a horse that appeared out of nowhere? Now you’re flying off a cliff? What is happeninggggggggg) to get my bearings in understanding. But after a while I came to really enjoy that sensation of…never really quite knowing what was real or surreal. I thought it was all so magnificently done! This really isn’t the sort of book I would go for but I thought it was utterly enchanting. And yes! You won’t necessarily understand everything by the end of the book but there is the distinct feeling that you’re not really supposed to. It’s all part of the mysterious charm.
      Kim recently posted…Bone Gap: Review

  5. J. Oh

    Such a beautiful review; thank you! I hadn’t heard of this book before, and I love how you’ve managed to fully intrigue me without spoiling anything at all. Adding it to my to-read list :) And wow, a comparison to the Raven Cycle? I love those books, mainly because–those characters! This makes me so excited to try Bone Gap.

    • Kim

      Oh you are welcome of course, dear! I am so happy that I could bring this one to your attention! And I do always hope to give enough flavor of a story without revealing too much. Glad to know I succeeded here!

      Oh man, oh man! I did not make that comparison lightly–and don’t get me wrong. They are very different books. Raven Cycle is much more obviously like, “Yes, this is a fantasy that takes place in the ‘real world.'” But this one is more like…touches of fantasy/magic in the real world. I hope that makes sense! More like magical realism…but also not quite. It was really hard to settle this one down by definitions! Which I think just makes it all the more appealing!
      Kim recently posted…Bone Gap: Review

  6. Carina Olsen

    Gooorgeous review Kim. <3 Oh, this book. This book was SO AMAZING :D I rated it four stars, but it was more than that a lot of times. Just so different! And amazing. And I loved it too. I found the romance to be pretty awesome, hih, and I loved all the small magic :) It was beautiful. Sigh. I'm so so happy that you loved this book too :D Thank you so much for sharing your thoughts about it Kim. <3 I'm just wishing there will be a second book :)
    Carina Olsen recently posted…In My Mailbox #177

    • Kim

      I am so glad to have a fellow fan in you, Carina! This book needs more fans, though! Shall we start the BONE GAP enthusiasts society? :p And I super loved Finn and Petey. And also Roza and Sean (to an extent–mostly I just loved Roza). But it’s so interesting because this really isn’t a me sort of book at all. I need more obvious, integral romance usually. I don’t know. The whole book sort of passed by me like a dream. But a super interesting and lovely dream! It was just…different. And, obviously, I loved it for that!
      Kim recently posted…Bone Gap: Review

      • Carina Olsen

        YAY :D And omg, yes. I need more people to read this book too. Think so many would love it like we did :) And lol, that do sound like it could be a lot of fun ;) And aw. Yesss. Finn and Petey were so adorable. <3 And so different from other books. Which might be why I loved it all so much. This book is so different, yet so damn perfect. Sigh. And yess. Roza were adorable :D And so strong! And fierce. And gosh. I really liked reading about her. I kind of liked Sean too. Not my favorite, he should have been better to Finn, hmph. But he wasn't all bad :) Yess. I also felt like I wouldn't like this book, but then I read it, and I ended up loving it :D So so happy you did too. <3
        Carina Olsen recently posted…Review: The Uninvited by Cat Winters

  7. Zoey @ Uncreatively Zoey

    What a glowing review! I hope I can read this soon. I’m so excited to read something so different and original, though I admit I feel like I might be frustrated about the fact that it’s so hard to categorize. It sounds like a very confusing book.
    Zoey @ Uncreatively Zoey recently posted…Discussion: Secondary Characters!

    • Kim

      Oh I hope you can too, Zoey! If it helps any I really don’t think the book will be frustrating at all. It’s a very engaging and absorbing read. I erally enjoyed the sense of sometimes not being able to tell reality from fantasy. It created a sort of “magic is real!” feeling and that is one I always treasure! Give it a try; I don’t think you will regret it.
      Kim recently posted…Bone Gap: Review

    • Kim

      Yes, it’s very much underrated and I need to get that fixed asap! I think it’s so different and sort of hard to pigeonhole so it hasn’t made much of a splash (yet). But it is more than worthy!
      Kim recently posted…Bone Gap: Review

    • Kim

      Thank you so much, Caryn! I hope I can always convey the feeling and benefits of a book without giving too much away! And thanks for the compliment! Wendy spends a lot of time making sure our blog is always at its loveliest. :)
      Kim recently posted…Bone Gap: Review

  8. Nikki

    The way you describe this book leaves me feeling like it may be a little bit like Everything is Illuminated by Jonathan Safran Foer

    • Kim

      Ha. It’s funny because I did read that one (a long, long time ago…8? 9 years?) but didn’t like it at all that much. I wonder what I would make of it now. Hm. Well, anyway, yes! I agree with you. I can definitely see the comparison, though I enjoyed this one so much more. I think it has the vibrant and dreamlike quality, but I think this is a stronger story with stronger characters. And more important messaging. I hope you’ll give it a shot!
      Kim recently posted…Bone Gap: Review

    • Kim

      Oh yes. For sure. There are infuriating and haunting moments but I did find the message to be overall positive. And powerfully done too. I urge you to pick it up when you can!
      Kim recently posted…Bone Gap: Review

    • Kim

      I wish it was getting more buzz! It’s a really magical and also I think important read. I straight up bought a copy to donate to my local high school library because I just want it to get into teenager’s hands. There’s a lot of important and beautifully said things in this one. I’m glad you’ll give it a shot!
      Kim recently posted…Bone Gap: Review

    • Kim

      If you liked my review you will love the book. I try to channel the feeling, and style, and mood of the book when I’m writing a review (if that makes any sense). Honestly, I thought it was just stunningly well written and overall such a cleverly crafted book. I hope you’ll pick it up!
      Kim recently posted…Bone Gap: Review

    • Kim

      It gets points for originality that’s for sure! I think a book like this is sorely needed too. So much of literature is more of the same and the same again. This is not necessarily a bad thing! But it sure is refreshing when something so different comes along. I wish this book was getting more attention! So glad you’ve added to your TBR. I don’t think you’ll regret it!
      Kim recently posted…Bone Gap: Review

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