Bone Gap by Laura Ruby
I came to Bone Gap with no expectations. This is fairly unusual for me, seeing as I usually pick books that fit a specific theme. So I was immediately taken with a sense of foreboding and became downright terrified within the first few chapters. The mood Ruby creates is one of distrust, of fear, of things moving in the corners of your eyes, in the shadows, at the edges of rooms. I began to worry that I had inadvertently picked up a horror novel that things would be swiftly taking a turn for terrible.
Instead she backs off slowly, allowing you to become close to the characters, to feel the confusion and kindness that comes from Finn, to learn the depth of Roza, to sense that Sean’s stoicism is what holds him together. And then at some point, I realized that I was reading a fairy tale. It was a relief in many ways, because with a fairy tale, you have some conventions you can trust, some expectation of how things might happen. But in others it was far more chilling. Because the only reason fairy tales are tolerable at all is because they occur long ago and far away. Examine any fairy tale in the context of your current world and it shows exactly how dark things can be.
But you don’t need to know any of that. All you need to know is that this book is amazing. It grabs you and draws you in and you will not want to put it down. A definite must read.
Age Recommendation: Honestly, I wouldn’t have a problem with anyone in 8th grade or older reading this. There’s certainly sexual content, but there’s actual discussion about protection and birth control and the emotional consequences of these actions which is something a lot of books don’t even bother with. The reason I’ve marked it as Mature Teen is because I realize that this is really a parental call, and people have very different ideas about what their teen is okay to read. The F-word also appears, so there’s that too.
Sex, Nudity, Dating – A teen dreams about getting naked with girls. Someone jokes that boys can tell cows from their girlfriends. A man doesn’t like teenage boys, assumes they’ll get girls knocked up. There are more jokes about dating farm animals. There’s some general talk about dating and attractiveness. It’s hard, because this is more in the violence category, but a couple kisses during a break up and then he touches her after. The result is that she is upset enough to bite the insides of her cheeks until they are bloody. There is clearly attraction between characters. A boy tells a girl she should wear a certain pair of shorts more often. There is kissing. There is an awful lot of boys looking at girls in a lascivious way. A girl gets called a bitch for not being interested in a guy. There’s talk of taking a girl to bed. There is kissing in a lying down position and simulated intercourse – with clothes on. A woman is said to “need a man”. It is implied that she sleeps around. A man says he doesn’t want to find two people licking each other like cats. There’s a girl who would “go down on any guy who would tell her she wasn’t ugly”. A girl’s mother talks to her about a boy sticking his hand down her pants (the mother’s pants). A girl is given a book that discusses sexual interest and identity, birth control, STDs, masturbation and sharing sexual images social media. Boys talk about what they want to do to a girl, what they “wanted to stick where”. A girl refuses to have oral sex with someone and lies are made up about her saying how she does have oral sex with everyone. There is an oral sex scene described pretty thoroughly. There’s lots of touching and observing and kissing. A boy has a boyfriend.
Profanity – “shithead”, “pissing”, “shit”, “crap”, “hell”, “ass”, “asshole”, “bitch”, “fuck you” at least twice, “jerk”,
Death, Violence and Gore – A teen dreams about being chased by someone with a hatchet. A group of teens beat up another boy. The fight is not described but it is clear he was hit pretty hard. Someone’s shirt is covered in blood from a fight. Miguel’s house has a ghost, supposedly. A girl is badly injured, with cuts and broken bones. A girl’s arms are wounded and bandaged. A man is killed when a tree falls on him (this happens in the past). A man shakes a girl so hard her teeth rattle. Miguel talks about horror movies and things like an axe murderer cutting your head off. A man died in a car accident. A kid gets the “crap kicked out of him”. There’s a pretty detailed description of how a man has a deep cut and how it is bandaged and subsequently stitched. There’s a lot of bleeding related to this. A woman stabs a man in the throat. She does it for her own safety. A teen is injured in a moped crash and trampled by a horse. A man threatens a teen, holds a knife to him. Someone is injured jumping from a car. Various ways to die are outlined: choking, poison, lighting, falling tree, twisting of a head and a broken neck, heart attacks, accidents, flesh-wasting diseases, parasites. They are listed as threats to people. Someone cuts his own hand. A woman’s face is badly cut. There is lots of blood pouring down her face.
Drugs, Alcohol and Smoking – A man assumes teen boys get drunk and high. Someone says she thinks the people who invented college applications must have been drunk. A teen is questioned as to whether he’s been sniffing something or using meth. The boys’ mother smokes, cigarettes and then other things. Teens drink spiked punch. Later many of them puke in the bushes.
Frightening or Intense Things – A girl is missing. She was last seen pounding on the windows of an SUV. Her disappearance is key to the story. She is being held captive. There are strange feelings, that the corn is somehow ominous, that there are ghosts in the graveyard. There’s a scene which could be scary, where someone travels through water and feels ridges of bone, bits of skin, the press of teeth and eventually a man with a skull for a face.