This book came at the right time for me, and I would like to thank the marketing team and, of course, Laura Ruby for that! Just when I was in a funk and wondering if the world would ever not be gray, Bone Gap by Laura Ruby transported me to the exact place I wanted to be—the Midwest in the summer. Summertime in the Midwest is intoxicating and Ruby makes every word another drop to drink. The fair, the stickiness of the humidity in August, and the small farming community that is always gossiping– each one of these feelings didn’t need to be told to me — I felt them with the characters. I could feel the heaviness of the air in my lungs as Finn rides the horse in the late evening. I could see the lightning bugs flickering their nightly conversation as twilight turned to dusk. I guess what I’m trying to say is that this Hoosier girl really felt the setting.
And the characters . . . they all feel so genuine and real like they belong exactly where they are in this story, in this town, at this time. They don’t feel transplanted . . . even Roza felt like she belonged there with the O’Sullivan boys. I very much applaud Ruby for Finn’s character. He is a little slower, describes things and people differently, and evolves throughout the book. Not only does he become a better person, but he becomes more confident in himself and realizes he isn’t stupid just different. Every single character has a reason for being mentioned, and if you pay attention little seeds are dropped everywhere about what really happened to Roza. I also really enjoyed the sprinkling of Polish, and especially how it isn’t italicized. Just like in code-switching, the switch between a home language and a new one in the same sentence, the Polish words felt natural and not in need of italicization. The Polish language isn’t an aside to Roza, it’s a part of her and the lack of italicization really shows this.
If you haven’t read the book, and you want to remain spoiler free–then stop here. I would give this book TEN STARS if I could, but since I can’t, I give it FIVE out of FIVE GOLD STARS! This book deserves multiple readings. I’m on my third time, and I keep finding new things to love. Plus, this cover is gorgeous and the font is divine– on the cover and inside the book. I recommend this book for ages 12 and up.
From the very first chapter we are introduced to how fast and lush the fields are growing in Bone Gap. This little seed shows us the beginning of the Persephone retelling. Yep, Ruby has even said she didn’t know she was retelling Persephone’s plight until she had finished the first draft. Jane Resh Thomas always says that writers write behind their own backs. Thank all that is good and holy for Laura Ruby writing behind her back, because this is one of the creepiest retellings ever. Hades has taken on a modern kind of kidnapping—the old chap is staying up to date with his methods—houses with unbreakable glass, a cable box with all the shows and movies a person could ever want, and the comforts of modern textiles. Hades’ creepiness level goes higher every single time he speaks to Roza. The last thing I’m going to say about this is to keep an eye or ear on the talk about the fields. Listen to the conversations about how badly the crops do after Roza is taken. One prime example is the garden in the back of the O’Sullivan house. It was fertile and happy, just like the boys, when Roza was there. As soon as she leaves, the boys and the garden go back to the shambles they were before her arrival.
The cornfields: they are just as big of a character as Finn is in the book. THIS MAKES THIS HOOSIER SO FREAKING HAPPY!! I’m one of those people that are comforted by the cornfields and the conversations they have when they wind blows, but I know those who fear the fields because of “Children of the Corn” and the darkness that envelops you as soon as you step in three feet. Miguel and Finn listen to the corn, but maybe they should have paid a little bit more attention. Another thing I really liked is when Miguel talks about the scarecrows, “—weren’t made to scare the crows, they were made to scare the corn.” This line adds like twelve points to the creepiness meter, which was already off the charts.
I can’t say enough good things about this book. The interweaving story-lines, Ruby’s lyrical language, and the setting hooked me from the first page and didn’t let go until I finished the last page. Laura Ruby deserves a standing ovation and a new kitten for this fantastic story. I give it Five out of Five stars and recommend it to anyone ages 12 and up.