Genre: Magical Realism, Young Adult
Date Published: March 2017
Publisher: Allen and Unwin
Buy: Allen and Unwin ($19.99AUD) – Amazon – Book Depository
Australia: Angus & Robertson – Booktopia
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.
I received a copy of this book from Allen and Unwin in exchange for an honest review.
If there’s a book that’s impossible to review then guaranteed I’ll love it and have to review it! I’m having A LOT of the same issues with trying to review this book as I did with Strange the Dreamer, but hopefully I can be somewhat coherent.
Trigger warning: sexual assault (not shown), non consensual behaviour
I fell in love with Magical Realism last year because I find the concept so fascinating. I know it’s not for everyone because it’s often very vague, with open endings and not a whole lot of explanation. However, I love the idea that magic can exist within our own world. I love magic. Period. I don’t think fantastical things have to be exclusive to fantastical worlds. I actually find Magical Realism easier to read than Fantasies because more often than not they’re set in our own world and don’t require world building. I totally get that’s a problem a lot of people have though because it’s hard for them justify how these nonsensical things are happening. Whereas, that’s kinda what I love? I don’t know. I just think the idea of magical things happening for the hell of it is so good.
I’ve been wanting to read Bone Gap for over a year and I kept hearing wonderful things so I had really high expectations going in. I was not disappointed. It definitely checked off a lot of things that are common in magical realisms so beware of that going in if it’s not your thing. It is quite slow paced, but the build up and journey was so wonderful it was definitely worth it.
Bone Gap is a small town, that truly feels like a small town. Coming from a small town myself I definitely related to the almost claustrophobic feel of it. The characters, even if they were side characters, felt really fleshed out and like real people. I really enjoyed Flynn, Roza and Petey as the core characters. I quite enjoyed the family dynamic between Flynn and his older brother Sean too. It was so good not to see a love triangle either when their could have been one. Also, corn fields are so creepy to me? I don’t even know 😂
I specifically want to talk about Roza and Petey. At first glance Roza could seem like a Manic Pixie Dream Girl, but it actually goes a lot deeper than that. What I love the most about Bone Gap is that Laura Ruby really used society’s expectations on women as a driving point. Everyone is in Love with Roza and we’re constantly told how “beautiful” she is. The attention Roza received was everyone else’s expectations of her. Seeing her take claim of herself and her journey was so great. In flashbacks, we see Roza travel from Poland to America and it’s so interesting. I think she’s actually become of my new favourite female characters. Then, on the contrast, Petey is a character who everyone views as “ugly”. At first I felt uncomfortable with the way Petey was constantly refered to as this, but then I realised what Laura Ruby was trying to do. It really shows both sides of the coin with what women have to struggle with on a daily basis. How we feel like we’re forced to take on these roles that are put on us – not feeling like we can use our own agency ect.
Finn has a condition called Prosopagnosia – it’s where you can’t recognise faces. Just like another magical realism I read earlier this year, When the Moon was Ours (where it was a case with a character’s identity), it felt like this condition was used as a bit of a plot twist? Sexuality, illnesses, disabilities ect. aren’t spoilers. I did appreciate that Laura Ruby would have given some awareness to the condition though. There is a case of serious absent parents too. Finn and Sean’s mother literally left them on their own, several years prior, to go marry this guy. Which, I know probably happens in real life, but just what the hell? I have no idea how ANYONE could do that to their kids. There’s also a little bit of girl hate in regards to Roza.
I really loved the writing style. It’s quite lyrical, but not overbearing. As I mentioned above it does have a bit of a slow pace until about the last third of the book. It is totally worth it though. I definitely found the pieces about Roza the most interesting.
I feel like I can say even less about this book than I could about Strange the Dreamer. There’s a thriller/mystery element to in regards to Roza being missing that I literally don’t even want to speak about because it’ll ruin the best part of the story. This book really is a journey that you need to experience for yourself. It’s so wonderful, unique and I absolutely loved it. If you go in suspending your belief and not expecting extremely detailed answers then I think it’ll be a really enjoyable experience! I especially recommend this if you’re a fan of magical realism. Oh, there’s also lots of cute animals. So 😎
“Because we don’t have your typical gaps around here. Not gaps made of rocks or mountains. We have gaps in the world. In the space of things. So many places to lose yourself, if you believe that they’re there. You can slip into the gap and never find your way out. Or maybe you don’t want to find your way out.”