Bone Gap by Laura Ruby
"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."
I can't even begin to sum up this weirdly stunning, magical book.
I absolutely loved everything about it. But then again, I seem to like most YA contemporaries these days with a little magical realism sprinkled in for good measure. Well, that's not entirely true; it's not easy to get it right. But when an author does get it right? Good gracious, I have GOOSEBUMPS.
This book takes place in Bone Gap, Illinois—a small town with just a drop of magic and a whole lot of chatter from eclectic neighbors. Laura Ruby has one of the most original voices I've come across, especially in this genre. In Bone Gap, we follow the stories of Finn "Moonface" O'Sullivan; his brother, Sean; Roza, a beautiful girl with beautiful scars; and Petey, the daughter of a beekeeper whose sting is worse than any bee. There are many other voices of Bone Gap that unravel in this work of fiction, and my whole reading experience was a dreamlike state of falling in love with each one. It was difficult to distinguish reality from dream—just as I like it.
I loved Finn’s character, but Roza and Petey were two of the most well-drawn, complex girls I’ve seen in a while. They are so very different, yet both of them have been burned by what the world identifies as beautiful.
She was too delicate for that strong, scratchy voice, as if her birdlike outside was just a pretty little tale she liked to tell, and the true story was something she kept deep down inside.
Most of the narrative is from Finn’s viewpoint, but we also learn about other characters’ pasts, including Roza, a beautiful girl who would rather not be seen. When she goes missing in Bone Gap, no one believes Finn’s story that she was abducted. He was the only witness, but Finn is called Moonface for a reason. He’s known as Sidetrack. Spaceman. No one believes him because everyone thinks he’s “just a little spacey.” While it’s true that Finn seems to zone out, there are a few things he can’t get out of his head. Roza’s disappearance haunts him. Without giving anything away, I will say this: There’s a reason Finn can’t describe Roza’s captor, and it makes for an intriguing, unreliable narrative.
In Bone Gap, Finn learns about bees and how to find the queen in a cluster swarming all around. He learns that beekeepers spot the queen by the way she moves more than anything else.
"It's hard to describe. It's as if she walks in a more determined way ... The best way to see her is to let your eyes lose their focus, let things get a bit fuzzy on you. See the bees as a whole rather than individuals. When you do that, you understand the entire pattern. The queen's movements will stick out because they're so different from everyone else's."
This is exactly the effect Bone Gap had on me. Laura Ruby's masterful storytelling almost summoned me to see the world a little out of focus, to see the uncertainty, the magic, the love and loss—all running together like honey on a spoon. This is a book about perspective. It’s about fairytales, how we see ourselves and how we see other people, how to look beyond the way others see us and overcome the labels and expectations that grieve us. It goes without saying that this is now one of my all-time favorite books.
To show you just how captivated I was, I found myself humming a little tune and ended up playing a little something on the Uke—because, well, I tend to gravitate toward songs about books and I haven’t found one about this book yet. It’s nothing to write home about and I’m not sure reading it without the tune is very helpful, but hopefully, if you’ve read the book, you’ll appreciate some of the words.
Night mare in a honey sky
Girls who sting and boys who cry
Boys who see and girls who slip into the gaps
We’re flying with the ghosts
You’re talking to the corn
And I’m waiting for you just beyond the dark
And this is where we find all that makes us blind
And everything we left behind
And this is where we met
And all the things we wish we’d said
Everything that fell into the gaps
We count them, people disappeared
Buzzing by, everything we feared
Falling asleep with your head in my lap
Oh we’re falling, falling, falling in the gaps
Just beyond these bones
Just beyond these honeycombs
We’re falling, falling, falling in the gaps
And when you see my face
I know we’re in that secret place
We’re falling, falling, falling in the gaps.