Title: Bone Gap
Author: Laura Ruby
Genre: Young Adult, Magical Realism
Publication: December 29th 2016, Faber & Faber
Source: Thank you to Lovereading4kids and Faber and Faber for sending me this book in exchange for an honest!
Rating: 5 million cupcakes would not be enough.
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've been staring at my computer screen for the past two hours, blinking, trying to project the maelstrom of feelings echoing inside my heart onto my blog. I've spent the past two days enshrouded in the honeyed, enchanting warmth that Bone Gap radiated, meditating on its splendour, trying to think of how I could adequately sum of its brilliance but my feelings are ineffable.
How can I sum up my love for this book? Maybe by telling you that by only reading a few pages, I knew I had found a new favourite book? How I stopped reading it for a day or two once I had read quite a generous amount of pages because I didn't want it to be over and how, after only having finished it two days ago, I've already reread it (I've never been a fan of rereading, until I read Bone Gap)? Maybe by saying that Bone Gap is to me what Harry Potter is to other people. It's a book that I will dive into when reality grows bitter, cold, lashing.
It's a book that I will pick up when I feel lonely because Finn, Roza, Petey, Sean, Miguel and Charlie Valentine are my new best friends that have each tattooed themselves on my heart. Once I had finished reading Bone Gap the first time, I knew I needed to fall into this world of honeyed summers, love, boys with dreamlike qualities and girls with eyes the size of the moon frequently. Being apart from the characters felt agonising, I had sewn parts of my soul in them and them in me and I needed them like one needs oxygen. Bone Gap is a refuge from reality, to me, and I love that.
Because my thoughts are pirouetting around the landscape of my mind, escaping my clutches, I thought I'd list all the things I love about Bone Gap because that might make this review appear slightly more organised and coherent. SO, LET THE LISTING BEGIN!
Reasons I Loved Bone Gap::
Reasons I Loved Bone Gap::
1. The story itself
It's about a place called Bone Gap in Illinois. It's about two motherless brothers. It's about a girl who is carried into a dusty barn by a spring storm and who is whisked away in dark SUV by a faceless captor. It's about a Polish girl with devastating beauty who wants a boy to see past the splendour of her face and instead see the strength, love and joy brimming in her heart. Horses dark as midnight who whisk a dream-like boy and a brilliant girl between the crevices of Bone Gap. Two brothers - one beautiful and quiet, who won't look you in the eye, the other strong, a superhero saving lives in this small Illinois town. Cracks amidst whispering cornfields where people can slip through leaving longing, nostalgia and only their stories behind - disappearing as quickly, as ferociously as they appeared.
2. Magical realism
I haven't ever had much luck with magical realism, hence I was quite sceptical before starting Bone Gap but I needn't have worried as the magical realism was done perfectly. Something I've always struggled with when reading books in this genre is I never know if it's actually happening or not, otherworldly elements taking place in realistic settings have never seemed to be stitched together as seamlessly as in Bone Gap and have often left me feeling discombobulated and frustrated. However, Bone Gap managed to contain the perfect dose of both reality and fantasy, two contrasting elements blended together in a stunning manner that produced a heartfelt, enchanting masterpiece.
I loved how the glistening, magical elements perfectly intertwined with the harrowing events of reality, making the bitterest of truths easier to swallow. There are quite devastating things in this book, emotional and hard-hitting truths about how we see the world and how the world sees us. They may not appear in a conspicuous manner - in fact, they're shrouded by an exotic veil of scrumptious adjectives, realistic, flawed characters and glowing scenery but if you meditate on the words a little longer, the powerful meaning behind the story of Bone Gap will astound you.
3. The messages
There are several messages sprinkled throughout the book. Messages about the gross importance we place on looks. The abominable situations an excess of beauty can cause you to find yourself in.
"There will be boys who will tell you you're beautiful, but only a few will see you."
It's a book about seeing people for who they truly are. It's about falling in love and seeing the real person beneath their armour. It's about not being able to protect the people you love, finding yourself unable to prevent them from leaving and unable to stop them from breaking your heart, but if you love them, and if you have taken your time and care to peel back the layers until you truly see them, then it was all worth it. It made me realise how brilliantly we see those who we love. How we see the way the sunlight sends slivers of gold through their hair, the scars on their knuckles, the silver speckle in their eye - precious details that strangers see none of. It's about how loving someone allows you to view them in an otherworldly, transcendent light and how utterly extraordinary that is.
Her flashing eyes, the curve of her shoulders in the tight t-shirt, the secret wink of her collarbones under her skin...
Bone Gap has undercurrents of feminism which I loved. It looked at the objectification and possession of women. How many men view beautiful girls as a vapid vessel, a trophy to display, a China doll sitting on a shelf, delicate, unblinking, quiet and breakable. I love how by incorporating feisty, headstrong girls like Petey and brilliantly kind and magnificently strong girls like Roza, Laura Ruby shattered the harmful beliefs many have harboured regarding women.
5. The writing
The writing in this book is stellar. I have two authors who inspire me to be better writers (Jandy Nelson and Laini Taylor) and I can confidently say Laura Ruby has been added to that list. The way in which she writes is quite simply indescribable. Her writing is evocative, magical, it reads like a fairy-tale with whimsicality, charm and a delicate tenderness. I could feel the summer sunshine caressing my skin and the golden honey sticking to my teeth and lips, I could hear the pounding of hooves on flat grey plains and I could feel myself absorbing the emotions and feelings of the characters until I wasn't me anymore: I was them.
I wanted to fall into this book, take shelter in it, as Finn wanted to fall into summer. Both of us attracted to the magical, comforting strangeness enshrouding us. I wanted to submerge myself in the lyrical writing, in the languid rhythm of summer that encompassed Bone Gap and in the thrilling, exhilarating tale that Laura Ruby has composed. I want to read this novel again and again until the lyrical prose thrums through my veins and the words of the characters etch themselves into my skin.
6. The O'Sullivans
We need more boys like the O'Sullivan brothers in this world. They see beyond the beauty, beyond the masquerade, beyond the lies and misconceptions others taint a person's skin with. They recognise the worth of women, their strength and that they belong to themselves.
"She’s her own girl”
They know that if you truly love someone, you will let them go as they'll always come back to you. They are brave, they are terrified. They save others and save themselves even though all they want to do is run. They are kindness and gentleness and loveliness and all the good things in the world. I love them so, so much.
- I loved Finn. I'm in love with Finn. With his quirkiness and his quiet thoughtfulness, his ability to see past the vortex of false representations surrounding people. His bravery in diving into love, dismissing his fears of once again being left behind - his goodness, his kindness, his endless guilt, the boy who sees. My love for him is ineffable. All I can say is that I utterly adore him.
He was tired of everyone believing they knew everything there was to know about him, as if a person never grew, a person never changed, a person was born a weird and dreamy little kid with too-red and stayed that way forever just to keep things simple for everyone else.
- Sean with his broad shoulders and his serious face and his large, gentle hands. The boy-man with an overwhelming desire to save and be saved. To love and be loved. The strength in his solitude and the cyclone of emotions brimming under the service, slivers of intensity that had me wanting to see more and more of this broken, beautiful boy.
6. Roza and Petey
I have found my two new favourite literary heroines. So vastly different from each other, both profoundly unique and both inspirational. I loved Roza. She had suffered through captivity and heart-stopping terror but she never stopped hoping, she never stopped dreaming, she never stopped fighting. Despite her gut-wrenching circumstances, she was kind and she loved. There were moments of pain and doubt and anger, gritty wounds in her heart, but she never stopped fighting. She was effulgent - her personality luminous, her cheerful nature contagious, her kind and caring demeanour sprinkling sunshine over the heads of those who needed it. She was feisty and brave and I absolutely loved her!
"You are strong."
Petey. OH MY GOSH, Petey. Petey made me want to cry several times because she's so misunderstood by the people of Bone Gap. People who think they know her story but they haven't got a clue as her story was told by all the wrong people. She's a beekeeper who holds her hands high against the sunlight, wearing the stinging critters like gloves. She wears her snark, her sass, her sting and her somberness like armour. She, like Roza, wants to be seen. She wants someone to look past the face that the people of Bone Gap call ugly and bee-like, she wants someone to fall in love with her, someone who sees her features unique and interesting instead of grotesque. I loved how she had this quiet strength and this quiet confidence about her. She was strong and brave and incredible and I love her SO MUCH.
She dropped the stick and met his gaze. "I thought they said you never looked anyone in the eye." No one else had such interesting eyes. Another thing he wouldn't tell her. "Do you always pay attention to what they say?""If I did, I'd have to walk around wearing a paper bag over my head."
7. The romance
Petey and Finn. Finn and Petey. Roza and Sean. Sean and Roza. They combine as beautifully and as perfectly as the chocolate, honeyed s'mores roasted under honeycombs and over amber fires. I loved Finn and Petey, their love story is one of my favourites. A lost boy and lonely girl who find each other among the humming of bees and the twinkle of galaxies. Who see each other in the light of a campfire and who plunge headfirst into a breathtaking love despite knowing how much it could hurt. They converse in sass, stolen kisses and absurd essay questions. Their love consists of midnight rides on magical horses, of waiting up, nerves thrumming through you, hoping you will see his face appear at your window with moonlight ricocheting off his lock so you can prove to yourself that he's real and not your lonely, imaginative mind playing tricks on you - reeling in content disbelief because you thought this love was only found in storybooks.
Finn closed his eyes and held on to Petey and wondered if she could feel his heart beating against her back, if she noticed his arms wrapped around her waist, if the moon had etched itself upon her otherwordly eyes, if the moon could ever be full enough to fill them.
Roza and Sean. Quiet and gentle against the fiery passion of Petey and Finn. I love love love Roza and Sean together. I love how Roza takes care of Sean, this beautifully fragile superhero and I love how Sean takes care of Roza. How they show their love for each other in the sweetest, gentlest of ways - cooked meals, baked cookies, tender touches, drawings of the other, quiet and thoughtful companionship. Sean saw Roza. He didn't just see her stunning features, he saw her stunning heart, he saw beyond her physical attributes. It was emotional, it was gentle yet simultaneously electrifying. I can't quite describe it. They needed one another like one needs air and it was beautiful.
But wasn't that love? Seeing what no one else could?
8. All the characters
Miguel and Charlie Valentine were secondary characters that I fell in love with, too. Kind Miguel with his excellent sense of humour (I LOVED his and Finn's friendship, bromance at its finest!) and I adored Charlie Valentine whose past was devastating and heartbreaking. All the characters were so brave and complex and real. They are wrapped in layers upon layers, layers that twist over themselves like the crevices in Bone Gap. Every time I thought I knew them, I discovered a jewel-plaited piece of information about them that snatched my breath away. Every time I read this book, I feel like the characters are opening my eyes and allowing me to see beyond the face they offer the world.
"You are spiky spring,humming summer, wings that beat back ghosts of winter"
This book is stardust and the sound of whispering fields, it's the brilliance of summer and the melodic notes of love. It is poignant and divine. It delivers brutal truths about humans and the society we live in, as painful as the stinging of a bee in a coating of the sweetest honey in the most magical of manners. Layers and layers of divine writing, effulgent characters, otherworldly adventures and poignant situations that revealed significant truths about love, loss, forgiveness, beauty and the distorted way in which the world views us - claiming to see who we are, but never truly seeing. Bone Gap is laden with profound thoughts that stabbed at my heart with stinging honesty and then repaired my wounds with the uplifting love between a strange, beautiful boy and sweet girl with a sharp sting, dazzling humour and heartbreak and the zesty scenery of the eccentric town of Bone Gap. It's haunting, compelling, evocative. It's everything I never knew I needed.
I give it: 5/5 cupcakes