Backlist Briefs: Mini Reviews for BONE GAP & GIRL OUT OF WATER
Published by Balzer + Bray on March 3, 2015
Genres: Young Adult Fiction, Fantasy
Everyone knows Bone Gap is full of gaps—gaps to trip you up, gaps to slide through so you can disappear forever. So when young, beautiful Roza went missing, the people of Bone Gap weren’t surprised. After all, it wasn’t the first time that someone had slipped away and left Finn and Sean O’Sullivan on their own. Just a few years before, their mother had high-tailed it to Oregon for a brand new guy, a brand new life. That’s just how things go, the people said. Who are you going to blame?
Finn knows that’s not what happened with Roza. He knows she was kidnapped, ripped from the cornfields by a dangerous man whose face he cannot remember. But the searches turned up nothing, and no one believes him anymore. Not even Sean, who has more reason to find Roza than anyone, and every reason to blame Finn for letting her go.
As we follow the stories of Finn, Roza, and the people of Bone Gap—their melancholy pasts, their terrifying presents, their uncertain futures—acclaimed author Laura Ruby weaves a heartbreaking tale of love and loss, magic and mystery, regret and forgiveness—a story about how the face the world sees is never the sum of who we are.
I purchased Laura Ruby’s Bone Gap on a whim last year at a local bookfair. I had no idea what it was about but the cover with its bee and honeycomb just really drew me in. I finally sat down and read it recently and, wow, what a gem of a book it turned out to be! It’s also one of those books that it’s hard to say much about without giving away its secrets, and because those secrets are really the heart and soul of Bone Gap, I’m going to keep my remarks brief and vague. I’ll just say that what starts out as a straightforward mystery about a young woman who goes missing in a rural town takes a major turn for the unexpected.
Because I grew up in a similar environment, I had tremendous sympathy for the characters in this story. It’s hard to have secrets when you live in a tiny town where everyone makes it their business to know your business, and where the gossip/rumor mill always runs rampant. Clearly the underdog of the story, Finn O’Sullivan captured my heart immediately. He and his brother Sean were abandoned by their mother and are trying to live on their own. Both brothers are beloved by those in their town, but everyone thinks Finn is an odd duck so when he comes forward one day to say that he saw a young woman named Roza kidnapped, no one believes him. Finn knows Roza’s life is on the line and my heart just broke for him as he tried and tried to get people to believe him with no luck. And it’s when Finn takes matters into his own hands that the story takes a walk on the wild and unexpected side. I don’t want to say anything more, so I’ll just say think Neil Gaiman, or maybe even Maggie Stiefvater or Alice Hoffman and you’ll have a feel for the truly magical direction this small town tale takes.
I loved Finn’s brother Sean too, who has had to put his dreams of working in the medical field on hold to be the head of the household since their mom left them. Sean is a great big brother and a good friend to all. Petey, one of Finn’s female friends, is a hilarious addition to the cast. She’s tough and sassy and gives every guy in town a run for their money, and I just loved every scene she was in. Lastly, there’s Roza, the young woman who has gone missing. Roza has a very painful past that she is running away from, but her arrival on the scene just after Finn and Sean’s mom left them, fills a void in both boys’ hearts. When she then goes missing, both boys are heartbroken all over again, which is another reason why Finn so desperately wants to find her.
My only real complaint about the story is that the ending felt a little rushed, but I still wouldn’t hesitate to recommend Bone Gap to anyone who is looking for an unpredictable tale filled with endearing characters and also to anyone who is a fan of magical realism. 4 STARS
Girl Out of Water by Laura Silverman
Also by this author: You Asked for Perfect
Published by Sourcebooks Fire on May 2, 2017
Genres: Young Adult Fiction, Contemporary Fiction
Anise Sawyer plans to spend every minute of summer with her friends: surfing, chowing down on fish tacos drizzled with wasabi balsamic vinegar, and throwing bonfires that blaze until dawn. But when a serious car wreck leaves her aunt, a single mother of three, with two broken legs, it forces Anise to say goodbye for the first time to Santa Cruz, the waves, her friends, and even a kindling romance, and fly with her dad to Nebraska for the entire summer. Living in Nebraska isn’t easy. Anise spends her days caring for her three younger cousins in the childhood home of her runaway mom, a wild figure who’s been flickering in and out of her life since birth, appearing for weeks at a time and then disappearing again for months, or even years, without a word.
Complicating matters is Lincoln, a one-armed, charismatic skater who pushes Anise to trade her surfboard for a skateboard. As Anise draws closer to Lincoln and takes on the full burden and joy of her cousins, she loses touch with her friends back home – leading her to one terrifying question: will she turn out just like her mom and spend her life leaving behind the ones she loves?
Laura Silverman’s Girl out of Water is an engaging coming of age story about family, friendship, love, and sacrifice. It follows teen Anise Sawyer, the quintessential California girl who loves the ocean and spends every free moment surfing with her friends. When the novel opens, Anise is busy planning her last summer with most of her friends who are going off to college soon. All of her plans come crashing down around her, however, when her aunt is nearly killed in a car accident, and Anise and her dad have to travel to Nebraska to care for Anise’s young cousins until her aunt is well enough to do so herself. Anise is torn: California and the ocean are her happy place and she can’t think of anything worse than being separated from her friends and stuck in Nebraska all summer. At the same time, however, having lost her own mother, who abandoned her years ago, Anise knows how important family is and knows that going to Nebraska is the right thing to do. But, boy is it going to be the longest summer ever…
This book worked well for me on a lot of levels. I loved the focus on family and seeing Anise bond with and take care of her cousins. In many ways, Anise needed them just as much as they needed her and it was nice to watch them all interact. Anise is terrified that she’s going to somehow end up just like her mother and leave all her loved ones behind one day. Having Anise work through those fears about her mother and abandonment really gave what could have been just a light summer read some added depth that I very much enjoyed. The friendship dynamic also really kept me turning the pages. Anise’s friends are all so fantastic and I loved that they were constantly trying to maintain contact with her even though she was halfway across the country. She also makes a great friend/maybe more than friend named Lincoln while she’s in Nebraska and he was just too precious for words. Lastly, I loved Silverman’s vivid descriptions of the ocean. She makes it such a full sensory experience that I felt like I was on the beach watching the waves crash and smelling the salty air.
If you’re looking for a beautiful story about the importance of family and friendship and a young woman’s journey to find herself, I’d definitely recommend Girl out of Water. 4 STARS