Bone Gap by Laura Ruby (Balzar & Bray, March 3, 2015)-Welcome to Bone Gap, Illinois, where the people are a bit odd, magic lingers. Bone Gap is an apropos name since there are places, or “gaps” in the town where reality is a bit fluid, and otherworldly doors appear. Brothers Sean and Finn O’Sullivan live in Bone Gap, and everyone loves Sean, who is an EMT and has taken care of Finn since their mother ran off a few years before. Finn is different. Certainly different enough for the folks of Bone Gap, already a place a bit left of center, to take notice of. He’s a bit dreamy, has a hard time remembering faces, and he’s infatuated with a girl named Petey who lives with her mother Mel and keeps bees, and he has a best friend named Miguel, whose arms are a bit longer than normal. Finn believes his serious brother hates him, and resents having to care for him since their mother left. The situation has only gotten worse since Roza disappeared.
Roza came into the brothers’ lives in need of help, and they gave it. The town, subsequently, fell hard for the lovely Roza. Her hands brought plants and vegetables into the world as if by magic, and since she disappeared, Bone Gap is just a little less greener, the crops more wilted. Finn actually witnessed Roza’s disappearance, and the man that took her, and now he’s spotted that man again. But, no one will listen to Finn (who is frustratingly unable to provide details about the mysterious figure), so he must find a way to get Roza back himself.
Meanwhile, Roza is being held in what seems to be a construct of the man that took her (her locations vary, as if in a dream.) He keeps her prisoner, yet grants her any wish (except her freedom, of course), while repeatedly asking her if she loves him yet.
Bone Gap has a distinctive folkloric feel to it, and while dark, it’s also quite whimsical, and Laura Ruby’s prose is lyrical and lovely. Finn and Petey, who thinks she is ugly, but who Finn finds beautiful, begin a sweet romance, and spending time with the two of them was one of the great joys of this book. I wish that Bone Gap (and its magic) had been fleshed out a bit more, and we never really know much about the man that kidnaps Roza, but Ruby’s writing is so gorgeous, and the people of Bone Gap so quirky and interesting, those seem like small things. So much of this book is achingly lovely and it’s imminently quotable. If you like magical realism, you’ll love Bone Gap. Laura Ruby’s writing is effortless, and her story of love (familial and romantic) and longing shot through with a generous vein of magic is, well, magical. I raced through this one, and if you’re looking for something different, from a hugely talented author, give this a try.