My book club of 4+ years is morphing into a supper club so I am testing out new book clubs in my area. Our local library branch has a Pardon My Youth club focusing on young adult literature, so I’ve signed up for this month’s meeting. January’s book is Laura Ruby’s Bone Gap, something I’d never heard of – which I’m sure will be true of most of their selections even though I do enjoy reading YA stuff. Bone Gap is the story of two brothers on their own in a small town (in Illinois I think???) and how they’re affected by the disappearance of Roza, a young woman living in their house’s separate apartment for the previous year.
Finn O’Sullivan lives with his perfect-in-every-way older brother Sean in a modest house with a barn, some land, and interesting neighbors. Their mother left town to move in with a pharmacist in Oregon and has not ever really looked back. Sean, dreaming of medical school, stayed home and became an EMT instead. One day Roza showed up, injured but refusing a trip to the hospital and anyone’s help but Finn’s. Slowly she warms up to the brothers and becomes the sister Finn never had and the love Sean needed. Roza is also Polish and bakes and has a superb green thumb, everyone loves her, and oh she is hella beautiful. Things are going well until one night Finn stumbles on Roza leaving with a tall strange man. He initially assumes she is going willingly and so he does nothing. Too late he realizes she was cooperating with her own kidnapper for he and/or his brother’s sake. When she is gone he isn’t able to describe the culprit well – he’s not great with faces, and so now the town just assumes she left willingly and Finn is kind of crazy. Sean barely speaks to him, which Finn takes to mean he blames him for letting Roza go. Now Finn is determined to find Roza no matter what it takes.
I liked this novel but I think I’d have appreciated it more had I known going into it that it was not a straightforward mystery. I went in expecting a thriller and got a fairy tale. The characters are a mixed bag; we barely get to know Sean, but Finn and his girlfriend Priscilla “Petey” are more flushed out. Each chapter focuses on a character and for the most part it’s Finn, Roza, or Petey, so the lack of depth around other characters makes sense I guess. The main bad guy is sort of blank and we never really learn his motivation or who he is. There’s a problem that I almost immediately spotted and the rest of the characters either never do or do it toward the end – I find this difficult to believe. I can’t really explain further without spoiling a large part of the book. Sadly all that is coming to me right now are this book’s flaws. In spite of how that must look to you reading this review, I did actually enjoy myself and reached a point where it was really difficult to put down. I think maybe I’m putting too many expectations on a young adult novel? I didn’t really come away with this book knowing motivations or why any of what I read happened, but maybe you’re not supposed to.