Bone Gap is a small town with mysterious undercurrents. Things have a way of not quite fitting together, getting lost, and falling out of sight – objects, memories, and people alike. When young and beautiful newcomer Roza disappears, nobody bats an eye. Bone Gap is hardly worth passing through, let alone settling down in.
Finn knows otherwise: Roza was taken against her will. He hasn’t given up hope, even if everyone else refuses to look for her- including his brother, who was ready to spend the rest of his life with this strange and wonderful foreign girl.
So Finn takes matters into his own hands, searching Bone Gap for the path that will lead him to Roza. He befriends a horse, the neighbourhood grandfatherly bachelor, and a beekeeper. He searches tirelessly for Roza’s abductor – a man he can only recognize by the way he moves – and soon stumbles head-first into the wild and hidden world beneath Bone Gap.
This book accomplishes several pretty impressive things. It’s young adult fiction that doesn’t read like young adult fiction – all of the passion and heart, and none of the overwhelming angst that tends to choke the genre to death. I have immense respect for authors who write books for young people without feeling like they have to talk down to the reader, or over-simplify the themes.
Ruby also made a strong choice in writing a YA novel that doesn’t focus on love: while Finn is obsessed with tracking down Roza, their bond isn’t even slightly romantic. He loves her as a sister, and feels compelled to find her because he knows nobody else will. The novel explores a deft and tender lesson: love can limit us as much as it can enable. Finn is a friend, not a Prince Charming – but that doesn’t make him any less of a hero.
But perhaps my favourite part is how Ruby weaves magic realism deep into the bones of the novel. Bone Gap spins a story in which the seen is rivaled by the unseen, and where another world echoes beneath our own. Roza’s captivity is reminiscent of Persephone in Hades, pulling details from any number of myths and fairy tales. The result is a story of vibrant depth – and yet just the story of a small town and its residents. It’s a striking balance, and honestly one of the best books I’ve read this year.