Despite the age-old adage to not judge a book by its cover, I often choose books based on their jackets. Lovely and interesting covers draw me in – an homage to the illustrators and graphic designers who create them. When buying a book the blurb on the back and occasionally the first page is what I use to make my decision. But when I have the freedom of borrowing a book (or browsing titles on NetGalley) I often choose books based entirely on their outer beauty and allure.
That’s how I came to find, read, and love Bone Gap.
Magic realism has always been a genre that fascinates me. Whether done well or badly it’s something that has always stuck with me. I love stories where odd things happen and the characters accept it as the norm, or when strange beings or peoples coexist silently in the world already familiar to the reader.
Bone Gap is kind of both of those things and neither of them.
This book tell the tale of an abduction that the majority of side-characters don’t believe actually happened.
Alternating chapters tell the story from the perspective of several characters. While usually a writing device that I hate, I found it wonderful here. Every character was nuanced enough to seem real, and I wanted to hear more from all of them. No matter who I was with, I was always deeply engaged in the story.
The characters we see the most of are Finn, who is called ‘Moonface’ among other unflattering names by those in Bone Gap, Roza, a captivating young woman whose beauty is not her most important quality, and Petey, who struggles with an undeserved reputation.
Set in a small town where different often means outcast the magical elements of this book were subtle but pervasive. Though seemingly normal, the entire setting of the book was magical – the strange occurrences that spurred the plot along only proved it. The very subtle inclusion of a familiar myth made it all the better for me, especially as more of Roza’s backstory is revealed.
Through the eyes of different people, both good and bad, this book explores love. What it means, how it works, and what it does to us as individuals, families, and communities. Because of the subject matter, I found the villain of the book particularly chilling and excellently characterized.
Laura Ruby’s writing was powerful and beautiful, and I think she tied up all the loose ends of the story perfectly. I will gladly seek out more of her books.
Is there an excellent tale of magical realism that has stuck in your head?