Bone Gap by Laura Ruby (review by Andrew R. ’17)

Bone GapBone Gap by Laura Ruby
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Laura Ruby’s Bone Gap, while almost effortlessly unique in its setting and characters, too often gets bogged down in the tropes of other genres—especially star-crossed romance and magical realism—to feel entirely convincing or satisfying by the last page. The rural Illinois town that protagonists Finn and Roza inhabit is summed up in consistent, symbolic motifs, which Ruby invokes whenever possible: bees, cornfields, gossip, and (most effectively) the “gaps” of the title. As successful as these images are, other aspects of the novel fall flat, ultimately distracting readers from the complexity of the setting. Classic scenes of teenage social cruelty, for instance, feel painfully out-of-sync with a rural setting that is otherwise frozen in the past, and incessant references to Craig Thompson’s graphic novel Blankets quickly grow stale—especially since Ruby seems oddly reluctant to refer to that novel by name. Perhaps most disappointing are the author’s halfhearted attempts at magical realism in certain scenes, which more frequently reek of coincidence than true enchantment. Roza and Finn’s shared story has plenty to commend it, especially to fans of less traditional YA fiction, but its restless shifting between disjunct genres rendered it difficult both to follow and to enjoy. – Andrew R. ’17

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