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Bone Gap

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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.

380 pages, Paperback

First published March 3, 2015

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About the author

Laura Ruby

19 books772 followers
Raised in the wilds of suburban New Jersey, Laura Ruby now lives in Chicago with her family. Her short fiction for adults has appeared in various literary magazines, including Other Voices, The Florida Review, Sycamore Review and Nimrod. A collection of these stories, I'M NOT JULIA ROBERTS, was published by Warner Books in January 2007. Called "hilarious and heart-wrenching" by People and "a knowing look at the costs and rewards of remaking a family," by the Hartford-Courant, the book was also featured in Redbook, Working Mother , and USA Today among others.

Ruby is also the author of the Edgar-nominated children's mystery LILY'S GHOSTS (8/03), the children's fantasy THE WALL AND THE WING (3/06) and a sequel, THE CHAOS KING (5/07) all from Harpercollins. She writes for older teens as well, and her debut young adult novel, GOOD GIRLS (9/06), also from Harpercollins, was a Book Sense Pick for fall 2006 and an ALA Quick Pick for 2007. A new young adult novel, PLAY ME, is slated for publication in fall of 2008. Her books have sold in England, Australia, Italy, France, Germany, Denmark, Serbia and Montenegro. THE WALL AND THE WING is currently in development with Laika Studios for release as an animated feature.

Ms. Ruby has been a featured speaker at BookExpo, the National Council of Teachers of English (NCTE) annual convention, the Miami Book Festival, the Florida Association of Media Educators (FAME) convention, the Midwest Literary Festival, the International Reading Association's annual convention, and Illinois Reading Council annual conference, among other venues, and she has presented programs and workshops for both adults and children at numerous schools and libraries.

Currently, she is working on several thousand projects, drinking way too much coffee, and searching for new tunes for her iPod.

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Displaying 1 - 30 of 4,989 reviews
Profile Image for Chantal .
334 reviews823 followers
December 27, 2016
You can also find this review here!

“People look, they don't see.”

Just thinking about this incredible book I finished a few days ago brings back all the emotions I felt while reading. Bone Gap is honestly a masterpiece and I don’t say that lightly. It is however, also a very difficult book to review.

What kind of book is Bone Gap? The answer is: I don’t know. It's not really magical realism or fantasy, not contemporary, not a thriller or mystery. I have no idea how I would categorize it. It is book that is totally different from anything I’ve read; it bends genre conventions and throws tropes and clichés out the window.

The novel reads a lot like a fairy tale and yet I didn’t feel any of the detachment I usually do with these kinds of stories. The book is so compelling and poignant that I couldn’t help but be completely invested. It’s about a lot more than just the plot. Without a doubt, Bone Gap is a character and theme driven story.

The story follows two brothers, Sean and Finn O’Sullivan, who live together with a beautiful girl, Roza, in a strange little town called Bone Gap until, one day, Roza mysteriously disappears and the entire town believes it was with her consent. Only Finn knows the truth: Roza didn’t leave, she was kidnapped. Kidnapped by a man whose face Finn cannot remember. And nobody in Bone Gap believes him, not even his own brother.

Told through alternating POV’s of Finn and Roza, as well as some of the other inhabitants of Bone Gap, the story slowly unfurls in front of the reader. Occasional flashbacks give the book an unexpected depth. Laura Ruby weaves in fairy tale and mythological elements and the result is a novel that is both a mythological retelling and something else entirely. The references are very subtle; nothing in this book is overt.

The characters are phenomenal. I loved every single one; they were all well-drawn and complex, lovable in their own ways.

We have Finn, eighteen and the prettiest boy in town. Yet, people don’t know what to make of him. They find him strange. They call him names – Sidetrack, Spaceman, Moonface – because he doesn’t look people in the eye.
“What have you got against people?"
Finn hated crowds. Thousands of people bumping and churning. "Too many opinions.”

Everyone believes Finn is in love with Roza, when in reality he loves Petey. But of course, nobody in Bone Gap can believe that because Petey is considered ugly. What would such a pretty boy want with such an ugly girl? Surely he only pities her. Petey believes that too.

Roza’s character could have easily been the victim of stereotyping and maybe, in the hands of a less talented author, she would have been. Instead, she turned out to be a wonderful character. Headstrong and independent, but also scarred. She is so beautiful that every person she meets comments on it, men all want a piece of her. They say they are in love with her without actually getting to know her. Roza hates it; she has long realized being beautiful is not who she is. She wants people to see beyond the surface but that seems impossible. Her character gives us a glimpse of the negative consequences beauty can bring and the author handled it brilliantly. Roza was never annoying or arrogant and she wasn’t a damsel in distress that needed someone to come save her; she could take her of herself.
Abruptly, she let go of his wrists and allowed him to push her to her knees. She looked up, waited for his smile.

And then she punched him in the nuts.

And then we have Petey who I could personally identify with the most. She isn’t beautiful or even pretty and the people in town make that clear on every occasion they get. They say she looks like a giant bee; a bit of an inside joke seeing Petey is a beekeeper. She is so insecure that she can’t believe that Finn could actually find her beautiful. It doesn’t matter that she is smart, independent and competent; the people only see what is on the outside. Maybe worst of all is the fact that Petey used to like the way she looked when she was a little girl, but the harsh words of others have taken all her self-worth.

Bone Gap is a book about beauty, about perspective, about the way we view those around us and the way we see ourselves. The story is masterfully crafted and truly shows how our perception of things can impact others. Beauty is not depicted as the source of all evil; rather, the problem is how much value we put on beauty and how we treat people differently according to how much we believe they have. This book has so many layers that I could go on forever. But I’d rather let you discover the rest on your own.

Last but not least, this novel is also beautifully written. Some of the metaphors and similes used were perfection.
The twitch of her nerves was like the beating of a billion tiny wings, as if messages passed from his breath and his hands through her skin and back again, the way bees stroke one another’s antennae, feeding one another by touch.

If you are reader who always needs to know what is going on and doesn’t like to be confused, then this book might not be for you. It is a strange novel that will make you question reality. Otherwise though, I recommend this book to absolutely everyone. It is unique, it is touching and it is empowering.
Profile Image for Charlotte May.
673 reviews1,029 followers
April 23, 2018
“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.”

Genuinely can’t believe I read this in 1 day!
Bone Gap is certainly different, odd even. It’s unlike anything I’ve read before, and elements of the story reminded me of The Raven Cycle, with worlds within our world, disappearances happening and beautiful lyrical writing.

Finn and his brother Sean live alone since their mother left them not long after the death of their father. When Roza, a woman close to their heart goes missing the brothers’ relationship is strained. Finn saw Roza’s kidnapper, but none of the information he provides is specific enough, and eventually the case is dropped. Sean doesn’t believe Finn, thinks Roza chose to leave them, as everyone does.

It turns out Roza has been taken by some psycho weirdo with magical powers and the ability to see the dead. At times I was lost, I just had to take everything with a pinch of salt and accept the story for what it was.

I didn’t need to understand everything to enjoy it though. The characters are wonderful, the gossipy locals, and the strange old next door neighbour. I loved following Finn’s budding new romantic relationship with Petey - the beekeepers daughter. I also loved the reveal regarding Finn and his recognition of faces (facial blindness) - such an interesting concept to get my head around!

Overall I enjoyed the town of Bone Gap. Watching Finn unravel the mystery of Roza’s disappearance, and exploring the dusty and secretive place in which they live, a small but unforgettable town in Illinois.

“Maybe it didn’t matter how he was crazy, only the fact that he was, the fact that he wanted someone to be crazy with him.”
Profile Image for TheBookSmugglers.
669 reviews1,970 followers
March 12, 2015
Once upon a time, a rich, powerful and mysterious man falls in love with a woman and takes her away to a magical realm where all but one of her wishes are commands, everything she needs is available – from amazing rooms and castles to beautiful dresses and servants to give her anything she wants. All that he asks is for her to love him back. A romantic fairytale scenario for a beautiful woman who is desired above all.

Except she says no. She says no every step of the way.

Re-read that first paragraph knowing this, coming from this new perspective – how does that read now?

Like your worst nightmare.

+++

When beautiful Roza went missing from Bone Gap, no one believed she was gone without her consent. No one believed her friend Finn – the sole witness of her abduction – when he told of her mysterious disappearance especially because he could not describe her kidnapper in detail.

Now, months later, her disappearance still haunts Finn. It still troubles him because no one is looking for her, not even his brother Sean, who is supposed to love Roza.
Brought down by guilt, worry and fear, Finn carries on until all of those become impossible burdens to carry. He must find Roza and bring her back. A knight in shining armour? He would be, if Roza wasn’t also such a strong narrator and didn’t have such a superb voice and agency within this narrative. She is her own knight in shining armour too. They both are.

+++

A lot of the narrative is from Finn’s viewpoint but the story goes back and forth between now and then, following Roza’s viewpoint as well as other inhabitants of Bone Gap including Petey, a girl who works with bees and who develops a beautiful if fraught relationship with Finn.

The thrust of the story depicts how Roza got to Bone Gap, how she stayed on then disappeared without a trace, how her life impacts the lives of those she left behind. More interesting to me is how the author was able to imagine, create, portray Roza’s impact to everybody’s lives without making her solely a puppet, a subject, a thing with no desires or agency. This is the story of Finn and Petey, of Bone Gap and above all, of Roza.

+++

Without spoiling: there is a reason for Finn not being able to describe the captor. It makes for a very compelling and unreliable narrative.

Without spoiling: this is a Fantasy novel. The fantasy elements are part fairytale retelling part mythological journey into the underworld. I’ve seen this book described as Magical Realism: I strongly disagree.

+++

Finn loves Roza and is moved by their friendship to go after her. No one believes he is not in love with her because she is so beautiful and surely they must have romantic feelings for each other.

He is in love with Petey. But no one can possibly believe that because Petey is so ugly and surely Finn only pities Petey. Even Petey believes that.

Finn is a great character. But Roza and Petey are amazing. Well-drawn, complex, diverse girls whose lives have been marred by the cruelty and carelessness of a world that puts a lot of stock on beauty. The different ways this has impacted them, shaped the way they interact with the world and their self-image is portrayed thoughtfully and with great sensibility without turning “beauty” into the source of all evil.

Bone Gap is a book about perspective. About the difference between looking and seeing. About fairytales, self-image, the heavy burden that beauty can be and the pernicious ways we look at and treat women. It’s awfully tense and there is this feeling of anxious momentum that runs through this novel. It’s also very romantic where it matters, empowering where it counts and beautiful in its telling. It’s a great companion book to be read alongside September Girls by Bennett Madison, A Wicked Thing by Rhiannon Thomas and Imaginary Girls by Nova Ren Suma.

A strong contender for a top 10 this year.
Profile Image for Aj the Ravenous Reader.
1,005 reviews1,050 followers
April 20, 2016
"But wasn’t that love? Seeing what no one else could?"

I haven’t read a lot of magical-realism books. I don’t even have a bookshelf for that but this absolutely enchanting read made me want to read more in the future. Bone Gap surely lived up to the name of its genre because it’s completely magical and perfectly real at the same time that it didn’t cease to fascinate me from beginning to end.

* Describe a book you love in recipe format since the alternative- using only adverbs- was impossible. Lol. *
(I really enjoyed the weird essay questions Finn and Petey kept talking about.)

1. In a big pot, boil a unique and complex enough plot.
2. Add two tablespoons of an intriguing introduction.
3. Pour generous cups of wonderful character development.
4. Spice the entire concoction with familiar themes about humanity but tackle them in a way nobody has yet and in a way that will gut the reader to her very core.
5. Make sure you use an exceptional spatula of gripping and timeless style of writing.
6. Constantly stir with adorable humor and inspiration.
7. Don’t forget to safe keep your secret magic ingredient for impressively and deliciously mysterious and magical touch.
8. Include an ingredient that the reader won’t expect, something she will taste for the very first time.
9. A pinch of romance and happy ending will make it more delectable.
10. Serve it with a really appealing book cover.

*I didn't talk about the story because it's best if you let it completely surprise you as it had me. Enjoy the book!*

This is the perfect book meal for the ravenous reader that I am. I am fully satiated.

Thank you to my incredible friend Masooma who wrote this beautiful and impressive review that made me read the book. Here’s Chantal’s lovely review too.^^





Profile Image for Masooma.
69 reviews131 followers
February 19, 2016
10 glossy stars out of 5

Explain a book that you loved written in recipe format.

2tbsp of sparkling writing + 4tsp of beautiful and well-drawn characters + a spoonful of honey + a pinch of just- the-right-amount-of romance and a pitcher of heart-wrenching reality. Garnished with a teensy bit of magic.


This in short, is Bone Gap, a page turner with an unexampled & touching story.

Bone Gap is a small talking town of people who do not listen, they only hear and pass on those whisperings around like wildfire. They hardly ever question or use their wits. Naturally, when Roza disappears into thin air, they don't question it rather accept it as it is. Only saying that she disappeared just as mysteriously as she had appeared at the O'Sullivans. Roza has wormed into the life of Sean and Finn with a warmth they never realized was missing. She completed them and made life all the more bright for the brothers. But her disappearance wrecks the two brothers specially Sean, who since a tender age was buried deep into responsibilities he unquestioningly shouldered. But Finn disagrees. He claims he has witnessed Roza being snatched away from their lives by some man against her will and wishes. Sean doesn't believe him. The people of Bone Gap laugh at him but Finn is adamant to unveil the truth of Roza's kidnapping and bring her home against all odds.

The characters are vividly drawn and each one has potential to snake into your heart with all their complexities and beliefs. They feel like people from our own world.

The fast-paced plot is a curtain-raiser over several things in the past and the present simultaneously. It unveils the brothers' lives and ambitions, Finn's magical love story brewing with the ugly bee-keeper of Bone Gap, Petey, Roza's plight, peeks into the Roza's past and glimpses of her life with the O' Sullivan brothers.

There are lots of bitter truths of our real lives portrayed through the characters such as the ugly face of beauty, the impact of peoples' opinions on our lives, how people prefer to judge others by just surveying the outer shell of skin. Many times I found myself nodding in agreement with the writer. Such as here:

A pretty face is just a lucky accident. Pretty can’t feed you. And you’ll never be pretty enough for some people.

Funny how you notice how beautiful things are just when you're about to leave them.

“What have you got against people?"
Finn hated crowds. Thousands of people bumping and churning. "Too many opinions.”


The story is very unique and even though the author drops hints still the 'big truth' hits like a lightning bolt. The best thing about this novel is the lucid writing, though. It's undeniably beautiful and mesmerizing. It gives life to everything it describes.

...but that evening- the evening that changed his life and Sean's- was chilly and gray, the lightest rain falling like glitter, the whole sky hanging low enough to drape the cornfields in gauzy gray fog.

I wanted to read slowly and devour each word, each phrase and expression (so perfectly chosen and put together). At the same time, I was so caught up in the story that I couldn't put down the book!

Bone Gap is a magnet which attracts each bit and piece of your soul. It consumed me whole, therefore, I recommend it to everyone particularly to those who are suckers for good writing.
Profile Image for Elle (ellexamines).
1,079 reviews17.2k followers
May 11, 2019
Funny how you notice how beautiful things are just when you're about to leave them.

It is amazing how a novel focusing on only three characters can feel like one of the most human experiences of your recent reading history. Bone Gap is about the burden of the past, and the roles we have to take on to escape that past.

Bone Gap is a magical realism retelling of the Hades and Persephone myth, sort of combined with the Orpheus and Eurydice myth, and though at times slow, it is exceptionally worth your time. Trust me. Here are three reasons for why it is worth your time:
“Why do you want to see the beast?”
“Because he is just as pretty as I feel.”

Petey has some of the most interesting character development in the whole novel. She is the town’s ugly girl, liked by one boy, who the rest of the town seems to think is only dating her because she’ll put out. And by the time she figures out what’s really happening with Finn, it is impossible not to sympathize with her insecurity.
“What have you got against people?”
Finn hated crowds. Thousands of people bumping and churning. “Too many opinions.”

Finn is a character who took a little longer to grow on me, but who I eventually fell in love with. His relationship with his brother Sean, and his gentle kindness towards everyone around me, were both so compelling to me, and I loved the direction the author took his arc. This is sort of a spoiler within the text of the book, but I'm not sure it should be, so I'm going to talk about it:
“You said you wouldn’t touch me until I wanted this.”
“I don’t want this.”
“You do.”

On another note of amazing women, Roza is such an incredible character, with one of the best-written arcs of the book. The sections of this book dealing with Roza’s kidnapping are genuinely terrifying, playing off the silent fear I think a lot of women and women-aligned people in America face: the fear of an unnamed stranger who wants us and is not bothered by whether we want them back. This is boosted along by a detailed backstory of life with her boyfriend, who physically hurts her (and - it is implied - sexually violates her).

Listen, I know I’ve talked a lot about the characters in this book, but they really are the focus. I found this book so, so cathartic. Even with such dark content, it's a fundamentally hopeful book, and I am so so glad I took a chance on it.

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Profile Image for L A i N E Y.
396 reviews672 followers
January 14, 2018
The dreamy quality of the writing in Bone Gap is out-of-this-world.

That had been weeks ago. Time moved so slowly here, or was it quickly? She had become unmoored from the present, loose and untethered, her mind rolling forward into the future, anticipating, and then dropping again into this torturous, unbearable present.

Here, there, everywhere.


See? See what I mean?
How is that anything but beautiful??

And I found myself almost holding my breath for moments with Roza and Sean.

Oh how hard I ship them...

Her face burst into a grin, and it was like watching the sun rise. “Frankenhand”

Later that night, he drew a picture, the first he’s drawn in years.

A sketch of his Frankenhand in hers.






rating: ★★★★ ⅓

Profile Image for Samantha.
401 reviews16.6k followers
July 2, 2017
Magical realism books are so hard for me to discuss in written form. I find them much easier to talk about on video, so you'll have to wait for that for more clear thoughts.

I am willing to admit that my main reason for not liking this may lie in the fact that this takes elements of mainly the Boreas and Orithyia myth, but implies that it is Hades and Persephone by mixing some dashes of that myth in as well. But this is not the Hades and Persephone I know and love, and instead paints the 'Hades' character as the villain, which again, falls more in line with Boreas than Hades. Additionally, magical realism stories are so varied that what appeals to one fan of the genre may rub another the wrong way and I think that was the case of this with me. It felt very jumbled and I think in the long run, I'll find it forgettable.

My expectations may have just been too high for this one.
Profile Image for Beth.
1,134 reviews109 followers
March 29, 2015
I haven't read much magical realism. One notable example would be Jellicoe Road, which has an aspect of magical realism that adds a degree of richness to the character relationships and a poignancy to the story.

Which springboards straight into my problems with Bone Gap: there isn't much story underneath the magical realism. What is the book about, exactly? The hole a missing woman left in a town? Who populates this town, anyway? The brothers' relationship, which is central to their story, feels more nonexistent than antagonistic. The town seems to react the way the plot needs it to react - first disliking Priscilla, then defending her; pitying Finn and then believing the worst of him. So much feels contrived, too, like the horse that runs away so Sean can say it's because Finn scared it off, and really be talking about Roza. There are mentions of colorblindness and faceblindness, very resonant ones, but no overarching structure in which these details have a place. Ultimately, there seem to be a lot of props and not a lot of people; a lot of dangling threads and no deliberate narrative.

The story is so disjointed that it feels like a thin veneer for its message. But I found the message confusing, too:

And the degree to which I found Bone Gap disjointed meant I kept asking questions - why cornfields? Why crows? Why gaps? What purpose does magical realism serve when it's not serving story?

I think I want to be able to point at something in a novel and say, "I recognize that. That is true." I didn't find that in Bone Gap. And I wanted to.
Profile Image for Melki.
5,587 reviews2,311 followers
January 5, 2018
This book confirms what I've been suspecting for a long time now - magical realism is not for me.

What starts as a fairly straightforward missing person mystery lapses into night time horsey rides, enchanted kingdoms, and scary scarecrows. AND, that's what I really hate about this type of book - the author does not have to follow any rules. Anything can happen, and it frequently does. And, if you can't think of an ending for your book? Aw, what the heck - they lived in a snow globe, and it was all a dream! (NO - that's not a spoiler, that doesn't happen in this book, though it might as well have . . . )

Anyway, I seem to be in the minority here. Those who loved this book REALLY loved it, so if you enjoy magical worlds were nothing has to make sense, have at it. I prefer either gritty reality, or full on fantasy, and ne'er the twain shall meet, dagnabbit.
Profile Image for booksnpenguins (wingspan matters).
696 reviews1,681 followers
August 15, 2022
I have found that people never love the way they say they do. They can't. They are just people. Full of lies and sentiment and fear.


last-banner822065b4a2007932.jpg

This book was everything I've ever wanted in a book and more.
Wholesome writing, magical realism worthy of the definition, The Raven Cycle-like vibes, absolutely great and not cringey romance, realistic and heartbreaking family dynamics, amazing main characters (Finn and Sean and Petey and Roza and, frick, even the Rude boys were amazing), He says the scarecrows weren't made to scare the crows, they were made to scare the corn, a horse named Night, a goat named Chew, stunning stunning stunning plot, bees, KITTIES!, thousands 10+ quotes...
And did I mention the w r i t i n g???

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 lips and stayed that way forever just to keep things simple for everyone else.


This book deserves more recognition. If you ever get the chance, please do yourself a favor and read it. I'm talking to you in particular, Maggie Stiefvater's fans, but not fans should totally give it a spin, as well. Heck, everybody should.
I adored this book and even if I'll never love another character the way I love Gansey, Finn comes definitely second, and, hear this and please record it, I might even like Bone Gap as much as I like The Raven Boys (more than its sequels for sure).

But a pretty face is just a lucky accident. Pretty can't feed you. And you'll never be pretty enough for some people.


"Do you have a girl? Where's your girl? Where's your girl?"
"She's her own girl," said Finn.



GIVE THIS BOOK ALL THE STARS.
ALL THE FLIPPING STARSSSSSSS.

He said, "I love you."
She shook her head. "You can see me, that's all."
But wasn't that love? Seeing what no one else could?

Profile Image for Elena.
560 reviews182 followers
April 7, 2015
This book you guys...this book.
While I'm not necessarily sure if it actually is a book that everybody is going to like or even love I have to say it was so much more than I expected. And I loved every bit of it.

Bone Gap is a story about a girl named Roza that got kidnapped and a boy named Finn that saw it happen, but couldn't do anything against it. Sad thing is: nobody in their small town believes him.

BUT believe me, that is a very VERY short summary, because I don't want to give you too much information.

''The corn was talking to him again.''

My favourite part of this book? Definitely the magical realism.
Sometimes I LOVE being confused. And this book could be confusing but more importantly magical. There just is no other word to describe it.
Fun fact: My favourite setting are fields. No matter what kind of fields, I am going to love them.
Corn fields, flower fields, grass fields. I don't care, all of them are magical and beautiful and I'm a sucker for them.
So when I found out that they play a role in this book, I immediately knew this will be even better than I already knew it would be.

Another thing I freakin' ADORED where the characters. Oh my. I couldn't help but fall in love with them.

''Roza woke in the dark of her castle prison, the taste of honey on her lips.''

Roza is the girl that got kidnapped and while she always was a big mystery to all of the citizens of Bone Gap, you slowly find out more about her and her past. Reading from her POV was heartbreaking and terrifying but also SO fascinating. I always looked forward to reading her chapters.

Finn is the younger brother from Roza's boyfriend, Sean, and he saw her disappear but nobody believed him. Roza was known as a mystery and when Finn couldn't describe the kidnapper's appearance everybody assumed he was lying.
His and Petey's, a girl in Bone Gap whose family are beekeepers, growing attraction to each other was so beautiful, especially when everybody else in the town knew Petey as the ''ugly one''.
While Roza is known as this beautiful and mysterious girl, Petey is known as this unique but ugly looking girl. I loved how Laura Ruby played with these stereotypes and the underlying topic of ''beauty can be dangerous''.
So, while nobody believed Finn he tries to find Roza on his own. One might ask oneself why didn't Roza's boyfriend Sean search for her, but that's something you should read on your own. :D
Let's just say it's definitely another thing I freakin' LOVED about this book.
It is not a love story between Roza and Finn. Definitely. Don't think you are going to get a clichè like that.

Overall this book made me think, it made me cry, it scared the crap out of me and it made me laugh.
I couldn't have asked for more.
The writing was absolutely beautiful and this definitely won't be the last book by Laura Ruby I am going to read.
Profile Image for Heather *sad DNF queen*.
Author 17 books430 followers
April 18, 2015
I had this friend who was really pretty (people said so on her Facebook photos all the time). She was so pretty the guy working at Cinnabon didn't charge her for an extra cup of frosting that she mistakenly thought was free (but charged me for it when I stepped up to pay). She was so pretty she could pay for five dollars' worth of food at Taco Bell with a $100 bill, even though the sign says you can't and everyone knows you can't do that at a fast food place, for crying out loud.



Sometimes being pretty has its advantages. But not for anyone in this book.

Roza is so beautiful that nearly every guy she meets wants a piece of her. She's so sick and tired of them not "seeing" her that she's just about given up on men. Until she meets brothers Sean and Finn, that is.

Petey is not beautiful, or even pretty ... everyone in town has something bad to say about her looks. She looks like a giant bee, although I'm not exactly sure what that means. Finn thinks she's beautiful, though.

I really liked the way the author handled beauty in this book, which is why I'm basing my review around that theme. Roza's beauty, for example, gets her nowhere she wants to be, and gives her some wisdom beyond her years. She understands being beautiful isn't who she is, but few others understand that. I guess it's a glimpse at the dark side of beauty, kind of like those people who say how hard it is to exist while beautiful, except not so fucking annoying. As for Petey, it's not often you get a YA character who's less than pretty anywhere outside her own head, and that's refreshing to me.

Also, Roza

What else to say? I liked it, but I didn't love it. The climax was a bit fantastical for me, and felt out of place with the rest of the story. I liked the main female characters—they were different from each other, and different from the usual YA offerings. Finn was a good male lead with an interesting condition. Characters had back stories which were interesting and tied into the main story.

There were hints of magical realism and hints of mythology, and yet this book doesn't quite belong in either of those genres. It's not exactly a captivity book, not exactly coming of age. I don't know where it belongs. It was a fast but leisurely read, if that makes sense. I enjoyed it.

By the way, I'm still bitter about having to pay $0.50 for that damned extra Cinnabon frosting.

Profile Image for Teleseparatist.
976 reviews116 followers
March 8, 2016
I decided to give this novel a try based on its accolades and honours, and while I quite enjoyed it (even if I found it a little on the nose with the whole beauty / seeing people / faces thing), the way Poland and Polish culture are used left me irritated and confused. I kept wondering what decade the novel was supposed to be happening in, and were the strange anachronysms purposeful. Unfortunately, I'm afraid - not really.

But before I get to my beef with the novel, let me praise what I liked. The book is fast-paced but lyrical, the relationships between the characters are multifaceted, Petey is awesome. I liked Finn and his voice. I didn't like the fact that all Polish people other than Roza and her grandma were terrible, or that Roza has no friends or attachments to Polish things other than food, but what can you do.

So let's get to the gist.

The author thanks some people for help with "obscure Polish translations" (wtf does that even mean???) at the end. I'm not sure she should. On a whim, I checked some of those Polish phrases with mistakes using google translate and you know what? Google translate gets most of them right. Makes fewer mistakes than this novel. It is capable of correctly translating "I'm a slave here. I live on bread and water." as "Jestem tutaj niewolnikiem. Żyję o chlebie i wodzie." It would also get "I'm trapped here" (which would actually make more sense in context). It knows how to spell gołąbki.

I guess it wouldn't help the author find out about all the factual errors she made, but that's neither here nor there.

The problems were specifically connected to:

Names: wrong gender of surnames (Halina Solkolkowski - likely a mistranscription of Sokołowski, and it should be Sokołowska because surnames like this one are slightly different for men and women, which you could find by googling for 2 minutes, or just reading the article on wikipedia - something neither the author, nor her editorial team has done), completely unlikely names of minor male characters (Gerek, Ludo?). Names of minor female characters are more believable (Karolina is fine, Honorata is odd in how old-fashioned it is but that can happen; I have an unusual name).
Roza, however, is not a Polish name. It could be a diminutive or a mispronunciation of a Polish name, but the book, by the end, doesn't indicate any such thing. That is beyond annoying.

Geography: there's no such thing as "a town too small to have a name"; even villages with one street have names in Poland. And a town large enough to have multiple boys at the same age for the protagonist to date would definitely have one.

I can't stress this enough: Bears in Poland don't enter houses. They are extremely rare animals. We do, however, have a common joke about how Americans are so gullible about geography that they think polar bears roam the streets in Poland. Yes, we literally have a joke about that. Boar, on the other hand, can behave like this. They'll dig up your garden, get into the trash and go back to the forest.

See this picture from the Polish wikipedia. It's not an entirely unlikely thing to see in my country! A bear in town though? That would raise eyebrows.

Girls in Poland... listen to Taylor Swift and Beyonce. And even our mothers learnt to dance watching Dirty Dancing. Not polkas. Unless someone is specifically interested in folk music, they don't dance polkas. We aren't like country-obsessed America, by the way. We have our own types of popular kitsch-y music but polkas aren't that. We also have the Internet, radio and TV (including American TV which would tell even Roza's grandmother that in America people don't wear dresses made of money. I mean, her grandmother is 85% likely to watch The Bold and the Beautiful).

Life in Poland: Polish students usually start university at 19 unless they went to school early. So an 18 year old university student would be unusual.

You boil pierogi before frying them.

The singular of "pierogi" isn't also "pierogi".

And my particular source of annoyance - the way Roza's English is written is practically offensive. Conjugating verbs with subjects is the first lesson you learn when studying English. Roza would not ask "Is okay?" after 2 years of living in the US. She might say "It is okay?" instead of "Is it okay?", she might forget articles and third person -s endings, she might mix up verb forms, but randomly skipping "this" doesn't make sense because, guess what, Polish uses "this" as well. I teach English as a second language and in 90% of cases the way mistakes of non-natives are written has zero in common with real life struggles of a person learning English, but the way Roza's language was written was simply obscenely bad. Especially considering her status as an immigrant in the 21st century, as part of a university-organised exchange program. She would speak better English *before* going to the US, and after two years there... Certainly.

(I do hope the next book I choose to read will give me fewer reasons to complain.)
Profile Image for Justine.
1,103 reviews294 followers
October 22, 2022
People look, they don't see.

Bone Gap is a story about perception and reality, and how people rarely have the two things aligned when it comes to those around them.

Roza is a beautiful woman who appears suddenly in the town of Bone Gap and is taken in by two brothers, Sean and Finn. Sean is the strong and steady older brother who has looked after his younger brother Finn since their mother left town to get remarried. Finn is a beautiful boy who keeps to himself and is thought of by the townspeople as easily distracted, earning him various nicknames such as Sidetrack. So when Roza disappears one day as suddenly as she appeared, no one really takes Finn seriously when he tells them she was kidnapped by a strange man whose face he can't really describe.

The story alternates between Finn and Roza, and what unfolds is an impressive piece of storytelling. For all that he doesn't care much for people, Finn does see Priscilla, or Petey as she prefers, and as he draws closer to her, he is able to deal with some of his unhappiness at not being able to do anything to help Roza. Roza meanwhile has a story of her own that begins long before her kidnapping, when her beautiful face became a burden that she could never take off.

This is a wonderful example of magical realism done right. This book very much deserves a place on the Andre Norton shortlist for 2016. I haven't finished reading all the shortlisted books yet, but two of the others on the list, Cuckoo Song and Archivist Wasp I read last year and put on my favourites-2015 shelf. I will definitely be putting Bone Gapon my favourites-2016 shelf.
Profile Image for lauren ♡.
525 reviews107 followers
June 11, 2017
Read this review @ my blog Wonderless Reviews

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.

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.


Funny how you notice how beautiful things are just when you’re about to leave.

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.

“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.”ding me with a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.
Profile Image for Book Riot Community.
953 reviews96k followers
Read
May 23, 2017
This one took me by surprise. I had put it on my Overdrive wishlist a while ago, so didn’t really remember what it was about. It starts out like a pretty straightforward missing-girl-in-a-small-town YA mystery, but goes in places I never expected. I don’t know what to say without giving things away, but I definitely recommend it to anyone looking for something a little bit different in Young Adult.

–Sarah Nicolas

from The Best Books We Read In March 2017: http://bookriot.com/2017/04/04/riot-r...
____________________


Whenever someone recommends English language magical realism to me I always heave a sigh and prepare myself for an overwritten, self-aggrandizing work with hints of magic and a whole lot of disappointment. But Bone Gap is magical realism at its best, with beautiful writing and a matter of fact otherworldliness that fans of Isabel Allende will give a huge thumbs up. Set amongst the corn in Bone Gap, a small town somewhere in middle America, it is the story of a missing girl, a boy trying to find his place, and all of those spaces in life where a person can go missing. Gorgeous writing, a compelling storyline, and a subtly feminist message. Read this one before awards season so you can brag to your bookish friends that you read it first. –Justina Ireland



from The Best Books of 2015 So Far: http://bookriot.com/2015/07/08/the-be...
Profile Image for Mari.
698 reviews4,319 followers
January 10, 2018
To hear many more of my thoughts about this book, check out this podcast with my best friend!

In a word: stunning.

The spread of star ratings you'll find for this book absolutely points to how not-for-everyone this book is. It's hard for me to accept, though, because I feel like I found an absolute treasure. It was thoughtful and beautiful and meaningful and emotional. I ended up having to read this a lot slower than I imagined because every time I opened the book, I felt unmoored.

The mix of fabulism with the realism of what the characters face was brilliant. There may be no accounting for the gaps in the town where people lose themselves, or the death-like figure who kidnaps Roza or the Zeus-like figure who watches it all happen, but there is accounting for small-town life and the price of beauty and the expectations women face based on said beauty. There is the reality of seeing people or missing them, and loving those we see, and thinking we love those we aren't seeing. There is leaving and staying and thinking we have no choice in either matter.

Every character struck a cord with me. I'll be thinking about this for a long time to come and I can't wait to talk about this book and all of its meaning with people.

I loved it so much.
Profile Image for Kels.
315 reviews165 followers
January 23, 2016
Well this was one heck of a magical unicorn ride into a greatness.

The Bone Gap isn't going to be a book for everyone. In fact, I'm quite surprised that I enjoyed it as much as I did, because magical realism books are more of a miss than a hit for me. On top of that, multiple POV's tend to throw me off. Yet Laura Ruby weaves such a mesmerizing tale that is lush, vivid, gorgeously written, and though at times I was slightly confused, the story was still somehow easy to keep up with and hard to put down. I'm amazed at how real this story felt, and how it seemed like I could just walk into the pages and witness everything firsthand as it was unfolding before my eyes. That is a testament to the talent and prowess of Laura's writing ability!

Okay, so I'm a little sleepy, but I plan to wake up tomorrow and write more about this wonderful book, but just know that it was weird, and it was awesome, and I loved it, and I'm tired because I'll rather be sleep deprived and finish this book, than to put it down and wait to read it tomorrow, and this is one freaking long run-on sentence, but don't judge me, and I'm rambling, and I'm still tired, but I'm happy because that ending was pretty great too. Okay, bye!!

Profile Image for Adita ✨The Slumbering Insomniac✨.
138 reviews259 followers
February 6, 2017
★★★★★★★★★★[10/10]

description

Bone Gap is a lot of things that other books aren't.
Funny.
Lyrical.
Heartrending.
Mystical.
Quasi-believable.

description

The words are poetic. Metaphors come to life. Cute boy Moonface slips into surrealistic otherworlds through gaps in the corn fields.

A scarecrow who teaches in a university kidnaps a girl and imprisons her in imaginary places.

Moonface has strange shortcomings. But he is easily forgiving, and a bit on the chivalrous side. It is one of those rare eccentric stories of a boy fighting to bring back his brother's love (from the inexplicably unreal world).

description

This is one of those rare stories which will tempt you to bombard the author with so many of your unanswered queries and theories.

But, you won't...

Because this book teaches you exactly that very thing - to ask the right questions. Better yet, sometimes to not ask any questions at all -- some books are so magical that they don't need to be explainable or rational to enthrall us. This books definitely falls under that category.

Maybe I'll write a review when I figure out which genre this book falls into - for it is also one of those rare books that belong nowhere and yet everywhere.

description
Profile Image for Bonnie.
1,370 reviews918 followers
November 10, 2015
‘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.’

Finn O’Sullivan was the only witness to the kidnapping of Roza, his brother Sean’s girlfriend. But when he wrestles with his memories trying to recall the face of the man that took her, he also remembers that she didn’t really put up a fight. So maybe she wanted to leave? It only seemed natural, after their mother left Finn and Sean as well so it would make sense for Roza to do the same. No one in the town believes his story, especially since the only way he can describe the man who took her is that he “moves like a cornstalk in the wind.“

Bone Gap, at first glance, appears to be your typical small-town in America where everyone knows everyone’s business no matter how private you strive to keep it. There’s the local brothers that go around bullying people, there’s the rumor spreading and gossip mongering, but then there’s an offhand note about the corn that whispers softly to Finn. The basis of this story stems from the abduction of Persephone myth, which when I realized this made it all the more fascinating. It’s quite evident once you realize this even if it’s only loosely inspired. Pomegranates still manage to make an appearance, there’s the subtle reference to the garden that stopped flourishing as soon as she was gone, and the corns presence in the story becomes much less Children of the Corn when you take into account the connection between it and Persephone’s return.

There are so many enigmatic facets to this story that I could discuss but it likely wouldn’t make much sense to someone who hadn’t already experienced this story. Because an experience is exactly what this story is. Its world-building is obscure, cryptic, and vague. But it’s also fanciful and unconventional and that’s what I loved most about this. Trying to nail this story down to a single genre is a troublesome endeavor, but just know that it’s part mythology, part romance, with large parts of magical realism that is so relentless it often veers into straight fantasy. One of the most innovative stories I’ve read this year.
Profile Image for ☆☽Erica☾☆.
200 reviews675 followers
August 17, 2016


Wowza. This was splendid.

Bone Gap is a beautiful, magical story that has a bit of everything: mystery, romance, life lessons, complex characters, shocking twists, all in a unique and unassuming package. It's a bit dark and could be a tad frightening at times, but it also manages to ride along in a somewhat whimsical way. I was genuinely surprised by some of the events/personality traits of the characters in this book, and I feel like it deals with characters that we don't often see. This is especially in regards to a disability that one of the characters has. It was really enlightening and stunning to read about. The author presents her characters in such a smart and original way that you can't help being wowed by them. In some ways it reminded me of I'll Give You the Sun. ((Also if you are sensitive to situations in which men are making women feel uncomfortable, i.e. kidnapping or themes of assault, I would approach cautiously. There are no explicit rape scenes, but one of the characters is consistently harassed by men)).

But most of all, it will make you think.
Profile Image for Lindsay.
1,240 reviews219 followers
July 24, 2017
Finn and Sean O'Sullivan took in Roza, a Polish student who seems to have fled something violent. But now she is missing, kidnapped, with the only witness to it being Finn who can't describe the kidnapper. Finn and Sean are bereft, but Finn moves on by getting to know the prickly daughter of a local beekeeper. Meanwhile Roza's captivity is strange, and getting increasingly stranger.

That's a weird way of summarizing this book, but I'm desperately trying to dance around spoilers here. One of the greatest charms of this book is the unfolding of what's really going on and the deep roots of a much older story. Half the fun of the book is looking for the parallels to the other story when you realize what this one really is. (Although I still don't get the goat).

It's also a wonderful story about expectation, objectification and labels and how those definitions can be prisons of their own. It has a storyline of romance as our society can sometimes define it and a parallel romance that is much more real and deeply beautiful.

Just wonderful; one of the better books I've read this year.
Profile Image for Kim.
270 reviews240 followers
February 2, 2018
4.5

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.

Find the rest of this review at The Midnight Garden
Profile Image for ♛ may.
802 reviews3,762 followers
October 20, 2018
this book is strange
very strange

at the beginning i was put off by the oddness of it all. its magic-realism but also normal life so you unsure what's what and how the characters got there and if the imagery is supposed to be some sort of symbolism (still havent figured it out)

so while the plot and setting are confusing, the characters are darling soft children that need to be protected
all of the, except the rude boys but finn and roza and pettey and sean, i would dedicate my life to baking them cookies and tucking them in at night

the ending was really satisfying. like the initial 100 pages were just a mess for me but the ending was really what made the book shine

i still want to know what really happened to roza

i found her to be a really well written character, i loved her backstory and seeing her life in poland and how being the most beautiful girl in the world isnt all the great and how people can be garbage to her but shes so soft and sweet and she just needs love

im so weak for these characters

3.5 stars
Profile Image for Prabhjot Kaur (Away).
1,030 reviews134 followers
March 29, 2021
Finn and Sean O'Sullivan are brothers who live in a town called Bone Gap. It is a strange, mysterious town much like Finn and Sean's lives. A girl named, Roza mysteriously disappears from the brothers' lives and Finn was the one who saw it happened and yet couldn't quite explain what happened to anyone else or even himself. Also, anything that Finn says, people don't believe him including Sean.

Finn is the younger brother while Sean is older. Sean and everybody in the town thinks that Finn is in love with Roza, which is far from the truth. Finn is in love with another girl, Petey but eveyone in the town thinks that Finn could never like anyone as ugly as Petey. While Finn is a beautiful boy, Petey is not that pretty.

How the story follows these main characters Finn, Sean, Roza and Petey and their view points is an amazing journey. This strange, mysterious and compelling world that Laura Ruby has created is magnificent. I loved Finn's character the most.

It's a very different read that will leave you with more questions than answers at the end. I know it is not for everyone but I for one really enjoyed this. I recommend it to people who want to put their hands on a good book without thinking too much. Go with the flow I say.

4 stars
Profile Image for Melissa.
Author 66 books1,127 followers
March 15, 2015
I don't have the words to explain how I feel about Bone Gap. It's not like falling in love. It's like learning what love is. It features one of the most nuanced depictions of humanity I've read in years and I will fight anyone who disagrees.
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