ChargerInk.’s first Lit Pick

Bone Gap by Laura Ruby review


Carly Earnest

The cover of Bone Gap. This edition is available from the Champion library.

I read Bone Gap in one sitting, and I’d be lying if I said I didn’t love it. The author, Laura Ruby, is known for magic realism — Bone Gap continues this legacy, set in the Illinois town of Bone Gap, where the “joints of the world are loose.”


Our protagonists tell the story from different points of view. Roza, a Polish immigrant who left Bone Gap as mysteriously as she came, is doing everything she can to break free from the man who kidnapped her; Finn O’Sullivan, a high school student that has always been described as ‘off,’ is the only witness to Roza’s kidnapping — and the only person searching for her; and Petey Willis, short for Precilla, is struggling to balance her newfound feelings for Finn with her brutal reputation and the town’s gossip.

Everyone knows Bone Gap is full of gaps. So when young, beautiful Roza went missing, the people of Bone Gap weren’t surprised[…] As we follow the stories of Finn, Roza, and the people of Bone Gap, acclaimed author Laura Ruby weaves a tale of the ways in which the face the world sees is never the sum of who we are.

— Summary on book jacket


While never explicitly dealing with magic, mystical elements are present throughout and always woven in with metaphorical descriptions. Ruby uses combinations of metaphors, imagery, and other complex devices to breathe life into her prose — the figurative language somehow manages to make the reader nostalgic for a place they’ve never been.


The background is also beautifully developed — everybody mentioned is involved in the plot somehow. As for the town itself, the perfect mix of details makes this village feel alive. Even the cornfields are so well-developed that they become a character of their own — something the characters even reference. (Quote to the right.)

Miguel replied that the corn sounded alive alive. As if it wasn’t just growing, it was ripping itself out of the ground and sneaking around on skinny white roots. Scarecrows weren’t made to scare the crows, they were made to scare the corn. It was enough to give a person nightmares. Otherwise, why would so many horror movies have cornfields in them?

— Page 6, Paragraph 1





Unfortunately, this book is not without flaws; in fact, it has one major one. In many of the realistic fiction books I have read, the subplots almost always get in the way of the main story instead of furthering it. Bone Gap falls prey to the same problem. The pages tend to linger on the romance between Finn and Petey instead of advancing the plot; I’d love to see more about other important but underdeveloped characters instead.


Despite its minor problems, I recommend Bone Gap to anybody who loves finding bits of magic in everyday life. Champion and the public library have copies, and it’s available to purchase at The Boerne Bookshop and through Amazon. It’s a quick, beautiful read — one I think everyone should try.





Not your genre? Here’s what else I’m reading (and recommending):
Fantasy / Sci-Fi – The Martian Chronicles by Ray Bradbury
Mystery – The Cousins by Karen M. McManus
Adventure/Suspense – Shutter Island by Dennis LeHane
Historical – All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr
Romance – Hungry Hearts: 19 Tales of Food and Love by various authors
Sports – Tangerine by Edward Bloor
Nonfiction – Talking to Strangers by Malcolm Gladwell