Bone Gap

by Laura Ruby

Paperback, 2016

Call number



Balzer Bray (2016), Edition: Reprint, 368 pages


Eighteen-year-old Finn, an outsider in his quiet Midwestern town, is the only witness to the abduction of town favorite Roza, but his inability to distinguish between faces makes it difficult for him to help with the investigation, and subjects him to even more ridicule and bullying.

User reviews

LibraryThing member Perednia
Finn and Sean have been raising themselves in a rundown farmhouse on the outskirts of a small town in the middle of nowhere for years. Their father died long ago and their mother left with another man, nursing her broken and vagabond heart. Sean, the older brother, is one of those strong, silent,
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sturdy types who everyone relies on. Finn is seen as dreamy and not quite with it.

Their lives started to look up when Finn found Roza one morning in their barn. The young woman had been hurt and was more skittish than a wounded animal. But the boys gave her sanctuary, Sean tended to her physical wounds and the chance to pay them back with her cooking and gardening gave her a chance to begin healing.

One day she disappeared. Finn can’t describe the man she left with and people aren’t even sure if they can believe the scanty details he provides. But he’s not going to quit looking for her. Even Petey, the beekeeper’s daughter who is more comfortable with the hives than with people, except for Finn, isn’t sure what to think.

Laura Ruby takes this premise and these characters, going back and forth between viewpoints, time and place to create a stunning novel of devotion. She delves into the ways people look at each other, literally and figuratively. The characters are resilient and spend more time thinking about others instead of themselves. The novel works on so many levels. There is a realistic depiction of a very small town where everyone knows everything about everyone else. There is magic realism and a fable-like aspect to the story. There is a princess who has been spirited away but who works to rescue herself; she doesn't just sit there and wait for a hero. There is the kind of deep friendship that can lead to something more. There is overcoming hardship and heartache.

Bone Gap is thoughtful, entertaining and a tour de force of storytelling
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LibraryThing member wildrequiem
A slow burn of a young adult mystery with strong hints of magical realism that feels like riding a carousel at a very creepy abandoned carnival of ghosts.

This book took me pleasantly by surprise - it started slow and quiet, but built itself up to stealthily into a burning climax. Wonderful usage of
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magical realism, fantastic twist, down-to-earth genuine romantic relationships between teens which is a rarity in YA lit, and a powerful message about love, and sight.
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LibraryThing member amandacb
BONE GAP is on all the recommended YA lists, so I picked it up despite the cover (hate bees and wasps). I was pleasantly surprised. If you are looking for straightforward plot and answers, this is not the book for you. One of the main characters witnesses a kidnapping of Roza; it is never clearly
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answered who took Roza and where. There is an otherworldly ether that floats through the narrative. Read it for the small town antics and beekeeping factoids alone, if not for the beautiful prose.
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LibraryThing member DarkFaerieTales
Review courtesy of Dark Faerie Tales

Quick & Dirty: This book touches on a range of topics fitting together seamlessly, from relationships and quirky characters to psychopaths, magic and heartbreak.

Opening Sentences: The people of Bone Gap called Finn a lot of things, but none of them was his name.
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When he was little, they called him Spaceman. Sidetrack. Moonface. You. As he got older, they called him Pretty Boy. Loner. Brother. Dude.

The Review:

When I started this book I had no idea there would be an element of magic involved. If I did, I would have expected something ill fitting given that the story had a contemporary feel but I under estimated the author. Laura Ruby wrote Bone Gap beautifully.

The story was told from different perspectives, but mainly from Finn and Roza’s views. Sometimes more than one POV can be irritating especially when events are repeated but in Bone Gap it worked well because there were different things going on. One event would be shown from Finn’s view as he tries to convince town people that Roza was kidnapped, meanwhile Roza attempts to escape from her psychopathic kidnapper. Their perspectives also shed light on past experiences, and slowly the pieces began to fit together.

He preferred her barefoot, he said. She had such lovely feet.
Roza didn’t agree. What was lovely about fee that could not take you anywhere?
What was lovely about fee that could not run?

At first I assumed Finn was responsible for the kidnapping since he was the last one to see Roza. Plus, the reader gets the impression that there’s something not right with him. He doesn’t seem to be all there so I thought he had a mental illness, or that he was obsessed with Roza and I felt terrible when I misjudged him just like everyone else. He is so sweet but unworldly it’s beyond funny.

“No she looks really mad. Did I break the moped?”
“I don’t think she’s worried about the moped. People sometimes get mad when someone they care about throws himself in front of a charging thousand-pound animal wearing steel shoes.”
“Sorry,” he said, though he wasn’t sure what he was apologizing for. “Is she okay?” And he wasn’t sure if he was asking after the horse or the girl.

His love for Priscilla is sad because they’re both outcasts in their town of Bone Gap; Finn because he appears to be mentally absent and Priscilla because she’s ‘ugly.’ They see in each other what the other could not and have to fight for everyone else to believe their feelings too. It showed me that there’s someone for everyone, regardless of their looks, cultural differences or broken childhood.

One character I wasn’t too fond of was the loved by all, golden boy, Sean. Yes, he sacrificed a lot but his bitterness irritated me. He gave up his career to take care of his younger brother but he doesn’t appear to know him at all. Sean fell in love with Roza but gave up so easily when she disappeared and then blamed Finn for her disappearance, how does that work??

It took me a while to realise that the magical elements weren’t part of Finn’s imagination and although it was very unrealistic I still liked it because of the way it was written. The author clearly spent a lot of time researching for this story so learning facts on bees and Poland whilst delving into magical spaces was a unique experience for me.

At the heart of it, Bone Gap is a story on family, insecurities, diverse characters and magic.

Notable Scene:

Some people seemed to show up just when you needed them, and Charlie had no idea who needed whom more – Roza, those boys, those boys, Roza. It all felt fated somehow. But Charlie had never been comfortable with the idea of fate. He didn’t like knowing that something else, someone else, held all the cards.

FTC Advisory: Balzer & Bray/HarperTeen provided me with a copy of Bone Gap. No goody bags, sponsorships, “material connections,” or bribes were exchanged for my review.
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LibraryThing member lynetterl
This is a lovely, lyrical read. Finn is a lonely teenager who lives with his older brother every since their mother left a few years ago. The brothers take in a young woman, Rosa, who later disappears. Throughout the book the point of view switches between the main characters. The reader realizes
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somewhere into the book that something is different at Bone Gap, the place is perhaps somewhat magical - and not always in a good way.

I wasn't totally satisfied with the ending, but must say that this felt like a different type of story than most, and I did enjoy that experience.
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LibraryThing member rgruberexcel
RGG: So beautiful, so heartfelt. The magic is how Laura Ruby crafts such an entrancing story out of a plot that could be summarized in a hundred words. All the praise is well-deserved. Reading Interest: YA.
LibraryThing member kimpiddington
Mysterious enough to keep you turning the pages to find out what happens to the characters-all of whom I cared about.
LibraryThing member Salsabrarian
Narrated by Dan Bittner. Just when I thought I had this book pegged as a kidnapping thriller, the story veered into dreamlike directions time and again. Where is this book going? What is it really about? Beauty? Acceptance of self and others? Finding the soul behind the stranger? Not for teens who
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prefer their stories cut and dry but an intriguing journey for those who take it. Bittner's narration kept me attuned for the most part, evoking the atmosphere of a Midwestern small town where everyone knows everyone, and bringing out the memorable aspects of certain characters such as Petey, Roza, Finn and Charlie Valentine.
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LibraryThing member lilibrarian
In a small town, everyone knows everyone's business. They all know that Sean takes care of his brother Finn since their mother left, and that Finn is different. Now a beautiful girl who appeared in their barn has disappeared. Finn claims she was kidnapped, but can't describe the kidnapper.
LibraryThing member mamzel
Marvelous story of two brothers, Finn and Sean. Eighteen-year old Finn lives with his brother who works as an EMT and has put his plans of medical school on hold until Finn is finished with high school. A young Polish woman mysteriously shows up in their barn and slowly trusts the brothers as they
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welcome her into their house and tend to her. Just as mysteriously, she is abducted and Finn, who witnessed the snatch, cannot identify the abductor because he cannot recognize faces.

Who or what is the person that abducted Roza is unclear. He gives her everything she could possibly need and everyday asks if she loves him yet. Finn works hard to find her and rescue her for Sean who thinks Roza abandoned him just like their mother did.

This was a beautifully written story full of imagery and mysticism. A big question theme through the story is what is beauty and it is treated with sensitivity and compassion.
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LibraryThing member ladycato
This book is currently an Andre Norton Award finalist, and I read it as part of my Nebula packet.

Bone Gap is a wonderful example American magical realism. It works in all the small-town eccentricities you expect and blends that with the nasty misogynist element found in so many fairy tales
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worldwide--all toward an outcome that conveys a beautiful, hopeful feminist message. I adored this book, and even ended up a little sniffly at the end.
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LibraryThing member fromthecomfychair
Very well-written story. It asks "What is the nature of beauty?" through the lens of one main character, Finn, who has a neurological disorder, prosopagnosia, which makes him unable to recognize faces. It also asks this question through the story of a beautiful Polish stranger, Roza, who
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mysteriously appears one day and is just as mysteriously taken away to a magical place. I don't think it needed the device of magical realism to make it a good story. For me, it seemed to take away from the author's message. Maybe I'm just too literal to enjoy fantasy being inserted into an otherwise realistic fiction.
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LibraryThing member sleahey
Finn and Petey, Finn and Sean, Finn and the Rudes, Finn and the town, Roza and everybody. This is the story of Roza's disappearance, and the impact on the main characters as well as the whole community. Told from the points of view of Finn, Petey, Roza, and Sean, but mostly Finn, the novel
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describes the loss of important people in Finn's life, most recently Roza. A mystery, a coming of age tale, a romance, and a surreal fairy tale, this is a beautifully written and engaging young adult book.
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LibraryThing member MJB2
Wow! This is a wonderful story full of mystery, magical whispering, gateways to other worlds and lessons on how we see (and don't always see) the beauty in ourselves and others. Full of charming, rich characters and wonderful atmosphere.
LibraryThing member EllsbethB
This is a magical story about knowing who we are and being able to see the truth about others. It's a good read.
LibraryThing member mjspear
Finn O'Sullivan lives a hard scrapple life with his brother, Sean in rural Illinois. Their father is dead and their mother left them years ago. Life improves when a strange runaway, Rosa, appears. Just as suddenly, however, Rosa is kidnapped. Only Finn witnesses the abduction and he cannot describe
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the man who took her. Finn, himself implicated in her disappearance, sets out to find Rosa. What he doesn't know --or won't admit to himself-- is that he suffers from face blindness (Prosopagnosia): an inability to recognize and remember faces. How will he ever recover Rosa? This is a wondrous book: beautifully written, magical touches (Rosa's journey is mystical) and poignant. Parts mystery, suspense, romance and fable: it all adds up to a great read. Highly recommended.
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LibraryThing member brangwinn
An innovative story that contains both reality and fantasy. I loved the characters and fell in love with Roza as well as Sean and Finn. It took me a while to figure out that this was magical realism, but once I did, I couldn't put the story down. I loved the addition of the disability of non-facial
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recognition because it show the aspects of recognition that pull out personality traits.
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LibraryThing member cay250
Finn has always been considered a little strange, and now that Roza has disappeared, his small town of Bone Gap holds him responsible. Finn alleges that she was kidnapped, but he cannot offer up a useful description of the abductor. Roza had appeared under mysterious circumstances a year before,
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and was taken in by Finn and his older brother, Sean, who subsequently developed a crush on her—and now wonders if perhaps her departure was a voluntary rejection of him. But Roza has been taken by a dangerous stranger and imprisoned in a series of bizarre supernatural dwellings from which she cannot escape—unless she agrees to marry the kidnapper. As Finn tries to puzzle out how to find Roza, he develops his own romantic interest in the strongly independent Priscilla (Petey, for short), despite what the town may think.
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LibraryThing member rachel.mcconville
Bone Gap has gaps, through which people go missing. Roza has gone missing, and Finn is the only one who saw it happen.Who will believe him?
LibraryThing member nbmars
I have to admit that when I picked up this book I paid more attention to the stickers for the Prinze Award and the National Book Finalist Award than to the blurb identifying it as magical realism. (It has won a number of other awards as well.) If I had seen that description, I might have passed
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over the book, so I’m glad I didn’t; this is a wonderful story.

There aren’t many characters. Finn O’Sullivan, 17, lives alone with his older brother Sean in Bone Gap, Illinois, a small rural town where everyone knows everyone else. It’s also “a magical place. . . the bones of the world were a little looser here, double-jointed, twisting back on themselves, leaving spaces one could slip into and hide. . . . Not gaps made of rocks or mountains. We have gaps in the world."

One could also say that these “gaps” are just different ways of explaining reality.

A little less than a year before the story begins, the brothers find a beautiful Polish runaway in their barn named Roza. They offer her a room in the empty apartment adjoining their house, and Sean falls in love with Roza. But then Roza vanishes. Finn claims he saw a man take Roza away, but is unable to provide a description. No one believes Finn; they think he is just scatterbrained and made up the story.

Indeed, one common theme is the way in which presumptions and prejudices color people’s views so much, that they cannot see one another. We are apt to make quick judgments and assign labels that become hard to shake. As T.S. Eliot wrote in “The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock”:

"And I have known the eyes already, known them all—
The eyes that fix you in a formulated phrase,
And when I am formulated, sprawling on a pin,
When I am pinned and wriggling on the wall,
Then how should I begin
To spit out all the butt-ends of my days and ways?"

People in love also have different ways of seeing one another. At one point, Finn tells his girlfriend Petey he loves her:

“She shook her head. ‘You can see me, that's all.’
But wasn't that love? Seeing what no one else could?”

By implication, love means not only really seeing each other, but still choosing the other person “anyway,” and moreover, learning to cherish what we see.

This first love that Finn and Petey share is depicted in part through magical realism. One is reminded of the paintings in which Chagall shows how he feels through his art. In these famous paintings, he and his wife-to-be Bella are usually flying: swept off their feet and soaring above the earth, just as one does feel when one finally experiences the highs and happiness of passion.

Similarly, Roza’s abduction is depicted as what Hell might seem like - the world, now cruel, is turned upside down, and there is no escape.

A third way magical realism is employed is in the use of Bone Gap itself. This is an actual place, and included among the first settlers were the five Rude brothers. In this story, there are also five brothers with the surname of Rude. I believe this adds to the tone of the story as being both in time and out of time.

At bottom though, it is a coming of age story, and a riveting one. It is also, even more appealingly, a story of what it means to love someone. As Finn says to Petey in a poem (also referencing his cat which had gone missing):

“…you find a girl, you kiss
a girl, you find the cat,
you hope
that there is nothing left to lose, and
all there is, is there to find.”

Evaluation: The awards for this book are well-deserved. Once you accept the magical realism as a perceptual framework, much like the role of Death in The Book Thief by Markus Zusak, you can adapt your expectations, and become a collaborator in deriving meaning from the story. Like poetry, the magical elements add an imagery to the words, generating meaning richer than could be imparted by ordinary prose.
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LibraryThing member ewyatt
Tells the story of two brothers and the woman who came in to their lives, Roza, and just as quickly was taken when she was kidnapped. Finn couldn't describe the kidnapper except for the way he moves. A beautiful story, part mythology, part magic, part realistic fiction. Using a narrator and
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alternating focus on Roza and Finn, the story unfolds as Finn falls in love with Petey, he gets pets who show up and connect with him, and he figures out where Roza has been taken. Roza is trapped by a strange, icy man who wants her to love him.
Complicated, lovely, and strange.
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LibraryThing member thornton37814
Bone Gap, Illinois is a little different than most places. No geological feature produced the name of the town. Instead other gaps exist. Finn and Sean O'Sullivan live there. Sean always dreamed of going to medical school, but his plans were thwarted when his mother ran off with a man. He did the
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responsible thing, got a job driving the ambulance and taking care of his adolescent brother. Finn finds a Polish woman named Roza in their barn. They know she's running from something but aren't sure what. When she goes missing, Finn is the only one to have witnessed what appeared to be a kidnapping by a man in a black SUV. But was it a kidnapping or did she go willingly? Finn is unable to describe then man he saw take her. Life isn't the same after Roza is gone. The townspeople always thought Finn a little odd, and now they find him even odder. No one really believes him. Finn befriends Petey, a girl who hates her given name of Priscilla. At times the two of them get a glimpse of a place neither had ever known to be near Bone Gap. Will Finn or Sean find Roza or will they just give up? The reader also gets Roza's story and is kept abreast of what is happening to her while she is in the "gap." This book is described as magical realism. It combines reality with fantasy. It makes for an odd but compelling novel. The audience is definitely teens, but adults will enjoy it as well. I listened to the Harper Audio version offered this summer through AudioSync. This is not my usual genre. Although I found the book strange, I was compelled to keep listening.
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LibraryThing member acargile
To be honest, I’m not sure how to classify this novel. Paranormal? Fairy tale? Thriller? I can only say that it’s unique and well-written.

Finn O’Sullivan has always been considered odd by the inhabitants of Bone Gap and have called him by various nicknames to reflect his oddness. This time it
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matters. Roza, a girl living in their spare apartment, disappears. Only Finn saw her kidnapper, but no one believes him. It’s been months, and everyone assumes the beautiful girl just moved on as mysteriously as she arrived and Finn is just being weird. Finn’s brother, Sean, feels abandoned because everyone has always left. He thought she was his future. All that matters is that no one looks for Roza.

Finn never looks at anyone except Priscilla (aka Petey). Others look at Petey, but they mainly see her flawed looks. Finn only sees beauty. Suddenly, a magnificent horse appears in the O’Sullivan barn. This magical horse allows Finn to ride him. These rides take him to Petey, who is willing to give Finn a chance. Nothing is this simple.

The novel is told in alternating points of view between Finn, Roza, and Petey with Sean being a presence. We don’t get much depth with Sean--he’s the brother who sacrifices his own dreams for everyone else. Finn truly is different, and he needs Sean--not forever--but he has needed him. Now, Finn is disappointed in Sean giving up and not looking for Roza, so Finn decides he’ll look. The kidnapper appears occasionally to taunt Finn, but no one sees him. Finn can’t describe him. We don’t get his description in the Roza chapters either. As we learn more of each character, the story begins to come together, bringing each character’s ability forward in order to free Roza.

This novel has a lot to say about what we see in a person--the outside looks or the person. There’s an amusing recurring analogy of writing essays for college that adds another layer of meaning. These topics are mature, so I see this novel as being more interesting to mature 8th graders. The characters are about to attend college, so their lives are vastly different from middle school lives. Stick to the novel--don’t stop at the slow beginning. Everything is important to the story and lead to the ending, which comes full circle back to the people of Bone Gap.
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LibraryThing member Ginger_reader22
Bone Gap isn't a place you stay in, it's a place you leave, which is why when young, beautiful, mysterious Roza goes missing no one believes that she was taken, they think she ran off, moved on to the next city, forgetting all about Bone Gap and it's inhabitants before she even crossed the state
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However Finn know's the truth, Roza would never leave him or his brother, Sean. Not without a goodbye, an explanation, something. So he sets out to find her, following the smallest clues and the tiniest of hunches, never giving up hope.

Bone Gap is a beautiful, strange, wonderous book that haunts the reader long after they've finished it.

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I knew from the second I picked up this book that it was going to be so hard to review it.

It was hard enough to decide how many stars to give it let alone talk about my opinions towards it and how I liked/disliked certain aspects.

First off, this is the weirdest book I have ever read, it has these moments of pure clarity and realization and understanding and before you have time to acknowledge those moments or contemplate them they are suddenly overcome with these unexplainable events or odd, perplexing scenes that leave you wondering if you're reading the same book you were two minutes ago.

I'm not going to lie I had a love hate relationship with most of this book.

It instantly reminded me of "Lovely Bones" which I don't even think I finished because I despised ever second of it (including the movie) but for some reason I really enjoyed "Bone Gap".

I wouldn't recommend this book to everyone but if you're okay with unusual characters and somewhat paranormal undertones I'd check it out.

Until next time,

In compliance with FTC guidelines I am disclosing that this book was given to me for free to review.

My review is my honest opinion.
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LibraryThing member Kaethe
Just freaking awesome.

Library copy


0062317628 / 9780062317629
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