Balzer + Bray
Available March 3, 2015
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Goodreads
A young woman named Roza disappears from the small town of Bone Gap, and Finn, the only witness struggles to identify her captor. How do you describe someone who looks like everyone else? Everyone seems to believe Roza just up and left Finn and his brother Sean, the same way their mother did. But Finn knows Roza would never just leave on her own. Finn can’t give up. He’s as determined to find her as he is to win over the prickly bee girl with the strange eyes.
This is one of those books that I picked up expecting great writing, but having no idea what I was in for beyond that. As a Michael L. Printz Honor Book and a National Book Award Finalist, I figured it would be right up my alley. And it definitely is. Something about it reminded me of Scorpio Races by Maggie Stiefvater (even though there’s no race and the horse doesn’t eat anyone) and Where Things Come Back by John Corey Whalen.
I loved Finn right from the beginning. His complex relationship with his older brother and guardian really rang true, and the nurturing Roza totally drew me in. I was nervous about the magical-realism elements kind of throwing me out of the story. I think generally I like straight contemporary or straight fantasy, and magical realism seems to enjoy blurring those lines.
In this case, I think the fantasy elements were pretty well-grafted into the story. They were strange and a bit dark, but I loved the way Ruby tied everything together in the end, including the revelation about Finn—which I kind of saw coming but still thought was incredibly clever.
Overall, honestly, I felt like some of the sexual content was a little preachy. In one part, Petey, the girl Finn is interested in, recalls her mother giving her information about sex including conversation and an informative book. I liked the nod to parental involvement in sex education—I think that’s really important. I don’t know. Something about the way the relationship between Finn and Petey evolved felt a bit agenda-driven. It could be that I’m just be oversensitive. I like my literary fiction to read a little cleaner than this in terms of sexual content, so maybe it just felt out of place to me.
Despite all that, I loved the themes about love and about what it means to really see someone. The whole town is a bit blind to who Petey and Roza really are, but Finn, despite his other deficiencies, is the one who truly sees and knows them. I found that to be pretty powerful.
If you liked The Secret Life of Bees or the other books I mentioned above, you may want to add this one to your reading list. For more detailed content information, see below.
Roza is Polish. Other characters are more generic white, middle class people.
Profanity/Crude Language Content
Extreme profanity used infrequently.
Kisses between a boy and girl. A girl invites a boy into her bedroom in the middle of the night. It’s clear she’s willing to engage with him. She briefly reflects on the book her mom gave her about sex. References to oral sex. In one scene, a boy intends to have a girl perform oral sex with him and she refuses. In another scene a boy performs oral sex with a girl after the couple kiss and remove some clothing. It’s about a page long, so there are some limited details.
Things happen in the story that don’t make sense in the context of reality. (This is, after all, magical realism…) For instance, a horse flies. Gaps appear to connect the small town to another dimension of sorts.
Roza appears in Finn and Sean’s barn with some serious injuries. Later we learn about the man who caused them while he kept her captive. He’s super creepy. At one point she tries to stab her attacker. A boy attacks a man when he says something cruel about the girl he loves.
Hey! So, I have a question. As a young adult, I still haven’t been exposed to inappropriate sexual content, and don’t really want to. However, I’ve heard that this books it REALLY good. So, with that being said… do you think it would be wise for me to still read this book, or would all the yucky stuff distract me from the book?
Also, is the sex scene brief? If it is, I could just like idk cover it up when it comes up. I really don’t want to read anything of that sort right now! Please help D:
Hi Jasmine! Ooooh…. that’s kind of a tough question– more because I don’t want to steer you wrong than anything else! 🙂 I felt like there were two types of content in the book in terms of sex. There are some moments it felt a little preachy to me in terms of justifying teen sex. That was the part I found most distracting because of the tone of it. In terms of the story itself, there’s not a lot of explicit description of sexual acts. You get the intensity and some of the setup. In terms of how long it is… the first instance is like two paragraphs at the bottom of pg 165 and top of pg 166 (hardcover version) or about halfway through the chapter from Petey’s point-of-view called Get Real. The second has more details and is about a page long, starting partway down pg 246 onto 247 or just under halfway through the chapter from Finn’s point-of-view called Blindside. It’s a little more vivid than I remembered it being, so I’m glad I checked back through the story. I’ve updated my notes to be more accurate, so I’m glad you asked! Let me know if that’s helpful or if you want more information and I’ll see what I can do. You can definitely see the events coming in both cases, but yeah… tough call. It’s a really great story, though. If you are still uncomfortable and looking for an alternative, I’d recommend The Scorpio Races by Maggie Stiefvater. It has the same kind of otherworldly feel and a hint of romance. My review is here: http://thestorysanctuary.com/review-the-scorpio-races-by-maggie-stiefvater/
Thank you so much Kasey! I was actually about to ask what pages those scenes landed on so I could maybe just cover it or have someone else cover it. IDK. But thanks! This really helped a lot. And you said that the other scenes were not too explicit? Does that mean that they’re quick and vague? Just like suggestive? Thanks again. I’m having a battle with myself on whether or not I should read this book :((
I think those were the two big scenes with content. There’s one more scene in which Finn goes into a girl’s room and it seems like they are going to do things, but then they don’t. There’s some kissing. I think everything else was okay. 🙂 I know what you mean! These are tough calls.
PS – I visited your gorgeous blog! I tried to leave a comment on your review of Shades of Grey, but I don’t think it went through. Blogspot doesn’t like me and I’m still working out why. :/ But the review is fantastic and now I can’t wait to read the book!
Thank you SO MUCH! I can’t tell you what these means to me <3
As I’m flipping back through some more, there are some lusty comments in the story, too. I’m not sure if that will bother you. Finn thinking about wanting to have sex, that sort of thing. Clearly I need to take more specific notes, especially when I read hard copies. I tend to highlight or bookmark scenes when I’m reading an ebook, which this was not. I really don’t want to steer you wrong. I hope this helps and isn’t making it more confusing. Here is another site you might want to check out: http://www.pluggedin.com/book-reviews/bone-gap/
Hi, I read this particular view since it was listed as “magical realism” and much of Latin American literature seems to fall under this category. I wonder if it’s because they view their reality as somewhat depressing and want to inject some element of fantasy into life in order to cope. Just thinking out loud as I compare literature in different languages.
Hi Diane! I haven’t read much Latin American literature, but this definitely makes me want to read more. I suspect at some level we do use fantasy/literature to cope with harsh realities. Thanks for visiting. I’m interested to hear more about what you think on this topic.
Does not sound like my cup of tea, as the cliche goes, but a great review so that any reader would pretty know what to expect. And that’s the point of doing a great review. Thank you!