The short: 4/5 ✦. An achingly beautiful novel that dances around the genre of magical realism with the focus of a foraging bee.
I love bees.
I didn’t quite understand why there was a bee on the cover of this book, though, until I started reading it. Kinda odd that the blurbs didn’t mention anything about bees or that one of the characters was an awesome beekeeper.
But then, this whole book is odd. In a wonderful way.
I also didn’t know that this was a magical book. I think I might’ve been more forgiving of that “twist,” or at least less confused. Certain parts were a little frustrating at first because they didn’t make sense. But then I realized what was happening, what this book was, and my little critical heart softened. If you’ve ever read or seen Big Fish, it’s that kind of thing, or the genre of “magical realism,” to be precise. Whatever category you want to put it in, I liked it.
Bone Gap is a floaty, thoughtful, character-driven tale. You can’t pick apart the characters like you can with Harry Potter or The Hunger Games. It’s an experience to read it; you take a journey with everyone and you learn what they learn at the time they learn it. There’s secrets and plot turns, but it all flows together and winds up your emotions and how you see the world. Perspective is a major theme: what do we really see when we look at someone? Their true self, or who we want them to be? In a small town like Bone Gap, you’d think people would look beyond the exterior – but they don’t. For Roza, who is so beautiful, you’d think she’d be content with that – but she isn’t. For (amazing) Petey, you’d think she’d tie her self-worth to something more substantial than her appearance – but she doesn’t. As for Sean and Finn . . . well, they have their own issues. And it’s all explored in an almost lazy way (the timeline does happen over the course of the warm summer months), but with a thread of tension since Rosa is missing. I think that’s my only complaint, because magicalness or not, she is missing and in a dangerous situation, and anxiety over her well-being kept me from fully immersing myself in this novel. I wanted to take my time, but I was too worried about her and everyone else. That being said, this book is very conducive to being read in a single sitting.
There’s not much else to say about Bone Gap except that I highly recommend it. Like Challenger Deep, it’s a book you need to read for yourself – to feel the words in your mind and to digest their meaning in the context of your own life experiences. Everyone will come away with different thoughts – wondering, pondering, but completely satisfied.
Header image: Bone Gap by Laura Ruby, published March 3rd 2015 by Balzer + Bray.