Bone Gap by Laura Ruby
Published March 2017 by Allen & Unwin
Source: the publisher
Rating: 4 stars
From the blurb: 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 ripped from the cornfields by a man whose face he can't remember. But only Petey Willis, the beekeeper's fiery daughter, suspects that lurking behind Finn's fearful shyness is a story worth uncovering.
Seventeen year old Finn O'Sullivan lives in the small Illinois town of Bone Gap. It's the summer before his senior year and he's planning to work with his best friend Miguel, and to study for college applications. Finn lives with his older brother, Sean. Sean gave up his dream of studying to become a doctor when their mum left to live in Portland with a man she started seeing. The boys have lived alone together ever since, until Roza showed up one year ago. It's been two months since Finn saw her get kidnapped, but no one believed him and he's the only one who wants to continue the search for her.
The writing in Laura Ruby's debut, Bone Gap, is beautiful and I immediately found myself immersed in Finn's story. He was admirable from the start. He's put up with so much; his parents leaving, the names he's called by the townsfolk, the bullying, but he's turned out to be a gentle, loyal boy. He's also different from other people, he can hear animals and plants talking to him.
Roza's story was just as intriguing but even more heartbreaking. I kept trying to figure out what was really happening to her, so sure that eventually everything she was going through would be shown to be an illusion or a hallucination.
I adored the blooming romance between Finn and Petey. It was so awkward, honest, and realistic. It was beautiful and sweet, and gave each of them a chance to grow and change.
I don't read a lot of magical realism so I think I was expecting a more conclusive ending, sort of like when you've spent time reading a book with an unreliable narrator and at the end you find out the truth. That's not the case here and I just accepted it. Did I want a little more? Sure. But, I understand that's not the way a story like this works, and I was happy with the way things ended.
Ableist language: nuts, dumb, idiot, lunatic, lame, crazy.
Bone Gap is an absolutely stunning and impressive debut. It's beautifully written, detailed, and imaginative. You will fall in love with the main characters and be swept away in their story.
Thank you to Allen & Unwin for my ARC.
Cover illustration: Melissa Castrillon
This is such a beautifully illustrated cover and it suits the story perfectly. It's also the sort of cover that I love to paint because it's so detailed and colourful. I started with a base of dark purple polish and used acrylic paint for the illustration.