Thursday, January 21, 2016

Bone Gap

Bone Gap
Laura Ruby
HarperCollins, 2015  345 pgs.
Grades 9-Up
Printz Medal Winner 2016

Bone Gap is a small town that really exists in America. This novel focus on the strange happenings of a fictional group of individuals who reside within. Multiple points of view tell the story of Finn, a beautiful boy who suffers from face-blindness, His seemingly perfect older brother and guardian, Sean, and a mysterious young woman named Roza, who appears one day sleeping in their barn. Roza disappears one day and Finn is the only witness. Unfortunately, because of his condition, he could not see the identity of the man she left with. Sean, who is romantically involved with Roza, does not believe it was a kidnapping, feels betrayed, and does not join in the search that Finn has taken upon himself to find the missing woman. Meanwhile, Finn enters upon a budding romance with the town beekeeper's daughter, Petey, who is considered ugly by most standards and does not feel worthy or confident of Finn's attentions. It is Petey who figures out Finn's afflictions with face-blindness and helps him sort through his feelings about the town's perception of him and the disappearance of his friend. A beautiful horse mysteriously appears in the brother's barn and Finn and Petey enjoy magical midnight rides as their romance blooms. Finally, Finn confronts a neighbor and finds access to the mysterious land where Roza is being held captive. It is up to Finn to see through a sea of faces to find the one that matters in order to bring her back to Bone Gap.

Laura Ruby just received a Printz medal for this beautifully crafted and original novel. It reads like a modern day fairy tale, borrowing elements from mythology and folklore and placing them in a contemporary middle-America setting. Finn is misunderstood by both himself and those around them until Petey discovers his face-blindness, a real condition of which I was previously unaware. Through his relationship with Petey, as well as through the magical horse, Finn finds the courage to enter the underworld and rescue Roza, a feat which even his "super-hero" brother could not perform. This book reads like poetry. It is lyrical and magical. The fantasy is gentle and realistic to the general tone of the story. It feels like this could really happen. Ruby includes an abundance of symbolism, creating a book of layers which can be read on many different levels by different sorts of readers. Simplistic teen readers will find a great story to dig into, while more thoughtful readers, including adults, will enjoy picking this book apart. The characters grow and change and the story ends satisfactorily without saccharine. The person who's point of view specific chapters are told in has the name above the chapter title, helping to alleviate confusion about who's eyes we are seeing through. A beautiful book with a lot of substance, yet still a fun read. Most definitely deserving of the Printz win.

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