By Heather A.
5 out of 5 stars ★★★★★
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.
Bone Gap is a story steeped in magical realism. From the way the cornstalks speak, to the magical horse who travels between the gaps. Everything in the book was well crafted and full of symbolism and metaphors (the girl who works with bees looks like a bee, for instance). At its core, the book focuses on the aftermath of a young woman, Roza, being kidnapped from the town. Finn is the only person who witnessed the crime, but he has a disability that prevents catching the culprit (to avoid spoilers I won’t say much more). Finn’s perspective makes him see the world differently. His older brother, Sean, is also racked with guilt because he thinks (as well as the rest of the town) that Roza, the woman he loved, left on her own.
From Roza’s perspective we see that she was trying to prevent harm to the two brothers by going with the kidnapper. The only physical thing that we know about the guy is that he drives a black SUV. All other details are blurry because his realm is whatever he wants it to be. First she’s trapped in a suburban house, then a castle with a moat and guards, then a simple life with a garden. His creepy, “Do you love me?” question haunts Roza. What bothered me most about Roza’s perspective is that I couldn’t find any logical place where she actually was. She was trapped in a dreams manufactured by this guy, but how was he doing it? What was his plan? (I also have a few logic questions for the end, but I don’t want to get into spoilers). So even though I loved the writing, not understanding the basics of the kidnapping still nags at me.
I do love Roza’s story, however. She is from Poland and moved to the U.S. to study agriculture in Chicago. She is first kidnapped by the mysterious man after her first semester, but she jumps out of his car and finds shelter in Finn and Sean’s barn. She’s defined by others as beautiful and when she rejects their advances because that’s all they see, the boys from her hometown get angry (and much like the boys in Poland, the kidnapper only sees her beauty).
From Finn’s perspective, he’s also defined by how others see him, and the names they call him. Roza and Finn share a bond because of this. Their friendship is one that slowly develops and it’s not a love story. Roza and Sean are in love and that’s what helps her return to him—even if Sean wasn’t the one who rescued her.
The inter-personal dynamics, symbolism, magical realism, and writing make this one of the better books I’ve read in a while. And even though I was frustrated that I didn’t understand Roza’s kidnapping, I still want to give this a high rating. I am worried that this will be one of those books that falls to the wayside, but I hope many people read this and escape into it.