Bone Gap by Laura Ruby
Finn, the teen oddball in the tiny country town of Bone Gap, is both loved for his quirky personality by most of the town and bullied by the family of Rudes–a common scenario in small town narratives where everyone feels that s/he knows everything about everyone else, where it’s both comfortable to remain in and difficult to break out of the image that folks lock you into.
Finn and his brother Sean have had it rough. Their father died too young and their mother, always flighty, took off for a chance at second love, leaving the older Sean to cut short his dreams of becoming a doctor because he has to care for the adolescent Finn.
Yet something strange and wonderful happens to the brothers when the extraordinarily beautiful Roza enters their lives. Finn finds her in the barn, appearing badly beaten and frightened. The guys have an apartment attached to their house, and they set Roza up, allowing her to keep her secrets and to seek both physical and psychological wellness at her own pace.
Clearly Sean is enamored with Roza. Finn cares deeply for her because he feels she understands him. So when Roza disappears from the county fair and Finn is the only witness, he feels shame and knows he is blamed. He can’t give a description of the kidnapper to the police–he thinks the man is nondescript except in the way he walks, like swaying corn. A tension leaks into the brothers’ relationship. Finn, seeking connection, is falling for Petey, both the daughter of a beekeeper and a girl whom others in town think of as very weird looking. No matter how crazy are the tales Finn tells her about his life and the disappearance of Roza, Petey believes and accepts him.
What has happened to Roza and who will try to save her? How will Finn manage his relationships?
High school housekeeping: When cornfields take on a life of their own, you always know you’re in for cool creepiness and strange occurrences. Bone Gap is a blend of realism and fantasy, as the ‘gaps’ in Bone Gap are dangerous openings in space and time. The Polish Roza has always been prized for her beauty, and her story alternates with that of Finn. How they come together will please fantasy fans. Fans of strong female characters will enjoy the novel as well. Although Roza needs helps, she also has to rely on her wit and courage to break her nightmare world. Meanwhile, Petey (Priscilla, although she hates the name), is a strong girl who faces down the cruelty and reproach of her peers, seeking an honest and equal relationship with the boy she loves. And, of course, there’s plenty of delicious honey in the mix. Lots of fun and thoughtfulness, too. I’m getting more copies for September book talks at my library. Enjoy!