Bone Gap by Laura Ruby

Sometimes I finish a book and it takes me a while to feel my way back into the real world. This is how it was for me with Bone Gap. I half believed that if the world shifted just a degree or so, it would open a wee crack, and I could slip through into that parallel universe. 

These characters are so real, it's like they are new friends, and at the same time so mythical, it's like I've known about them forever. It's a story so big it seems like it's been retold for millenniums. Yet so familiar, that somewhere along the way I imagine I might have been a bit player in it.

This is a book about seeing, particularly seeing beyond and inside. It's a book about beauty, especially how we look at and see beauty in others. There is something of Demeter and Persephone in the tale, but there's a feminist twist in the retelling of this myth that makes it so much more profound.

It's the story of two brothers, Finn and Sean. After their mother abandoned them, Sean gave up his dreams to stay home and look after Finn. Their lives were stark until Roza arrived.

It's the story of Roza, a polish exchange student who, because of her beauty, was kidnapped, held in a magical land where her every wish, except to leave, was granted.  Still she managed to escape her captor and ended up in Bone Gap, where she stayed with Finn and Sean and transformed their lives. 

It's the story of Priscilla (Petey) a girl others consider ugly, a girl who has internalized this image of herself. She can't fathom why Finn thinks she is beautiful.

The thing about Bone Gap is that people leave all the time and no one thinks anything about it. So when Roza's kidnapper found her and took her away again, mostly everyone thought she had just left of her own accord, even Sean who loved her. Finn witnessed Roza's kidnapping, but was unable to give enough information to identify the kidnappers. The reason for this is eventually revealed, but I won't spoil it for you. 

Finn eventually heads off in search of Roza, but at the same time, Roza is busy saving herself. 

The narrative is woven through the perspectives of three main characters: Roza, Finn and Petey. While their characters are impeccably drawn, even the secondary actors are rich and complex.

At times this book feels like magical realism, but it's really an exquisitely written fantasy. Ultimately it leaves the reader pondering his or her own investment into the beauty myth. 

You really must go read it for yourself.  Then let's talk. 


  1. Thanks for linking to your review for me. I did enjoy listening to Bone Gap, though when it drifted into fantasy, it left me feeling a bit ambushed and wondering what had happened? I think part of the problem is that I'm not at all familiar with Greek mythology (and not typically a big fan of magical realism or fantasy). I really enjoyed reading your review - I couldn't shake the feeling I had missed something here, and I was right!


    Book By Book

    1. Thanks for commenting Sue. Bone Gap is one of those books I would have loved to have read with others just to be able to have a conversation about. There is so much going on beyond the story line.
      I love listening to audiobooks, but read this one as text. Sometimes books just don't really work as well as an audiobook. I wonder if that played into changed how the book was for you. I admit that I am a fan of magical realism so maybe this is what didn't work for you.