By: Allyssa Ellen
In case you don’t already know, I’ve focused most of my studies on Youth Services, my entire “to be read” pile on my book shelf is lined with picture books, easy readers, juvenile fiction, and young adult books. A few adult books pepper the lot, but my main interest is literature for kids and teens.
The book that I’m bringing to you today is one of those, and I honestly think it reaches way beyond young adults.
Printz award winning Bone Gap by Laura Ruby is so good that I actually bought my own copy so I can re-read it. Yes, this is one of those books that you have to re-read. Not because it’s like Harry Potter and you have to keep living in the world and memories by reading again and again, but because it’s so different, so involved, and so beautifully written that I can’t get it out of my head. I know that with a second reading, a much deeper understanding of the story will come to me.
This ain’t your mama’s typical “problem novel.”
In a town called Bone Gap, where the air is all abuzz – literally, thanks to the beehive which supplies the town-famous honey – something strange happens to people, who seem to just…slip through the gaps.
Finn and Sean, two brothers who live on their own, are still dealing with the disappearance of Roza, whose sudden appearance into Bone Gap was as mysterious and shocking as her disappearance. Except, Sean is ignoring the mystery, which definitely consumes him, and Finn, who saw the kidnapper but cannot remember his face, cannot stop trying to find her. Everyone in Bone Gap thinks Finn is crazy. Really, the entire town is a little off – it’s not just Finn. The story is told through multiple perspectives, including Finn and Roza’s for the most part.
The book is a little bit mythical and a little bit magical. That’s the part where I have trouble describing what happened. Without being all spoilery, the book is really just realistic fiction, until very suddenly it’s clear that this is something magical. There are hints along the way, and that adds to the mystery, but it happens very suddenly that you’re certain that you know nothing for certain anymore.
I know. Magical Realism.
Bone Gap is also a little bit about love, but not in the traditional way you would expect to see love from a YA novel. There’s power in seeing and feeling love that goes beyond the traditional fairy tale notion. For that matter, Bone Gap is also about seeing people in general. Those you know, those you don’t know, and those you never want to see again. The storyline with Finn and just why he can’t remember what the kidnapper looked like is both a beautiful twist and a challenge to overcome and digest.
Further, the book is an excellent representation of a female rights kind of novel. The focus on Roza shows us as readers on the outside how to write about violence against women, and how women do not seek or want that attention. Roza’s captor calls her a “creature.” He wants her only for her looks, while Sean and Finn love her for her intelligence, her work-worn hands, and her cooking. The details of her abuse are not necessary, thus not glorifying violence against women. Instead, Roza’s cunning plans to escape and resist take precedence.
The entire book is like a dream, potentially Roza’s nightmare, even. Then again, there is also a literal Night Mare, and she is a dream come true. Do you see what I mean? There is so much going on here.
I don’t know how else to describe this book. You need to go pick it up. It’s not a love story. It’s not the story of a kidnapping. It’s not a small town story. It’s not a fairy tale. It’s so much more.