by Laura Ruby
First sentence: “The people of Bone Gap called Finn a lot of things, but none of them was his name.”
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Content: There’s some intense situations, some creepiness, and some on-screen, tasteful sex. It’s also pretty mature in its themes. For those reasons, it’s in the Teen (grades 9+) section of the bookstore.
Bone Gap is one of those places that everyone knows everyone else’s business and opinions once formed aren’t so easily changed. So, everyone knows that the Rudes are hopeless and mean. That Charlie Valentine is just plain weird. And that Priscilaa — who insists upon being called Petey — is homely. And that Sam and Finn are okay without their mom, who ran off, but they could be better. And that the strange newcomer, Roza, is the most beautiful girl ever.
They also know that Finn’s not the most reliable person; he’s kind of spacey, like his mom, and so when he says some guy in a black SUV took Roza, no one believes him. They chalk it up to “women are always leaving those boys”. They assume that Roza wants to go. But Finn? Finn knows different. So, he sets about trying to find Roza, not because he loves her but because his brother does and his brother can’t quite bring himself to find her. Little does Finn know that looking for Roza will change everything.
I have been sitting here, staring at the screen, trying to figure out what to say about this book. It’s not that I didn’t like it; I did. But I didn’t love it like I felt I should.
My favorite part? The women. I loved them. I loved Roza and her desire to be Seen for herself and not for her beauty. I loved Petey and her fierceness. I wished there were more women to love, because Ruby knows how to write them whole and complex, people rather than stereotypes. I liked that they saved themselves, even though the men weren’t worthless louts or even helpless. It was something that was just Done, that they rose up and just did that. They were my kind of women. I also loved the idea that what we assume about other isn’t always the Truth. That there’s more to people than what we see.
But aside from that, I didn’t really love it. Maybe it was the whole magical realism thing; that genre and I have never really quite gotten along. I think I prefer my magic overt: if there’s going to be something strange going on, then give me magic with Rules. I didn’t understand what was going on until the book was nearly done, and that left me feeling, well, stupid.
So, I didn’t enjoy it as much as others on the interwebs, but I still think it’s a novel worth reading.