Bone Gap by Laura Ruby. March 3, 2015. Balzer + Bray. 368 pages. Ages Teen & Adult. **2016 Printz Award Winner**
Finn and his older brother Sean have lost more than their fair share of people in their lives. First their father is killed in an accident, then their mother runs off with a man she met online, leaving Sean to care for Finn, derailing his plans for medical school.
Then one day a beautiful girl named Roza suddenly and mysteriously appears, and then disappears just as suddenly and mysteriously a few months later. But in the time she was there, Finn and his older brother Sean both came to love her, though not in the same way.
Now Finn is left to deal with his grief, guilt, and frustration. Grief at missing Roza, guilt for not trying to save her from the man who took her, and frustration that no one seems to believe that he saw her being kidnapped because Finn is unable to provide a good description to police. Finn feels that Sean resents him for not stopping Roza, as well as for being the reason he had to give up medical school, and Finn is angry at Sean for not trying to find Roza.
Finn doesn't stop thinking about Roza, and after he runs into her kidnapper a second time, he becomes determined to rescue her, no matter how strange and mysterious the circumstances prove to be.
I really had no idea what this book was about or even what genre it was when I started reading it, only that it had recently been named the Printz award winner for YA literature. I was a bit skeptical at first, because I typically find Printz award/honor books to be too weird for me. But after I started reading it, I got completely caught up in the mystery of where Roza came from and what happened to her, and I was completely unprepared when it suddenly got weird in the middle and went from what I thought was a mystery/psychological thriller to fantasy. I have to say, that twist completely ruined the story for me. If I had read any of the blurbs from reviews on the cover, I would have known to expect the fantasy and might have liked it more, but I still really wish it would have turned out to be the mystery/thriller that I thought it was.
That being said, I know I'm in the minority and most people loved this book, and young adults tend to like fantasy much more than I do. Though I didn't care for the twist the story took, I think it is well-written and moves along at a decent pace for most of the story. The character of Finn was very well-developed and relatable, with all his conflicting feelings about himself, his brother, and his life in general. The other characters were a little harder to know, which is in keeping with Sean's "strong, silent type" persona and the necessary mystery surrounding Roza.
I would recommend this book to those who are fans of magical realism or like a good mystery/thriller and don't mind elements of fantasy.
Other Books By This Author
Laura Ruby has written a number of other novels for both teens and younger readers, some with elements of mystery and fantasy, including The Chaos King, The Wall and the Wing, Lily's Ghosts, and others that are realistic fiction, including Bad Apple and Good Girls.