Bone Gap

Laura Ruby

Bone Gap
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Bone Gap

Laura Ruby

A masterful and seductive tale of love, magic, regret and forgiveness. Winner of the 2016 Michael L. Printz Award.

He’d been drawn here by the grass and the bees and the strange sensation that this was a magical place, that the bones of the world were a little looser here, double- jointed, twisting back on themselves, leaving spaces one could slip into and hide…

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 goes missing, the people of Bone Gap aren’t surprised. After all, it isn’t the first time someone’s slipped away and left Finn and Sean O'Sullivan on their own. Finn knows that’s not what happened with Roza. He knows she was taken, ripped from the cornfields by a man whose face he can’t remember. But no one believes him anymore. Well, almost no one.

Petey Willis, the beekeeper’s daughter, suspects that lurking behind Finn’s fearful shyness is a story worth uncovering. But as we, like Petey, follow the stories of Finn, Roza, and the people of Bone Gap - their melancholy pasts, their terrifying presents, their uncertain futures - the truth about what happened to Roza is slowly revealed. And it is stranger than you can possibly imagine.

Review

Mythology, feminist fairytale and coming-of-age love story coalesce to form the multifaceted tapestry of Bone Gap. Taking its cue from the Greek myth of Persephone and Hades, Bone Gap’s central mystery pivots on the unexplained arrival and then abrupt disappearance of a beautiful young Polish woman. The novel’s hero, eighteen-year-old Finn, finds Roza huddled in a barn on the property he shares with his older brother, Sean. Thereafter, Roza becomes an integral part of Sean and Finn’s existence, enriching their lives with her compassion and Polish charm.

To the townspeople of Bone Gap, Roza is a beautiful enigma. For the reader, her startling account of personal trauma unfolds. When Roza suddenly vanishes, Finn insists she’s been abducted. In fact, Finn witnessed the event but his reputation as the local ‘spaceman’ along with his bizarre description of the abductor – likening Roza’s captor to a cornstalk blowing in the wind – inspires only disbelief. When he embarks on a mission to find Roza, Finn soon realises he’s just as much a mystery in need of solving.

The novel’s multi-mystery, multi-dimension trajectory follows a tangled trail of subtle clues for maximum reader intrigue. Laura Ruby’s lyrical prose, spirited humour and textured style make Bone Gap a stand-out novel. The coexistence of the fantastical landscape with rural realism allows magical portals and ‘whispering’ cornfields to intermingle with beekeeping facts and depictions of small-town insularity.

By coupling Finn with Petey, Bone Gap’s sharp-witted beekeeper, in a partnership based on reciprocal respect and admiration, the novel also captures the raw and genuine intimacy of first love. Conversely, the Underworld, the scene of Roza’s imprisonment, serves as a distorted looking glass where dangerous aspects of romantic attachment – obsession, possession and objectification – are enacted. While Bone Gap is a cautionary tale about limited perception, it also celebrates the idea that every person is a compelling mystery.


Carrie Croft works as a bookseller at Readings Hawthorn.

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