Friday, January 15, 2016

Awards Time Again (and I Got One Right!):
Bone Gap by Laura Ruby

After the National Book Award for young readers shortlist was announced last fall, I had a plan to read all three before the final Winner was announced.  I read Bone Gap, and loved it.  I read Nimona, and liked it a lot.  I've renewed Challenger Deep from the public library 3 times (yep, I often borrow a book from the public library before deciding whether to buy it for Paideia or not. My tax dollars at work!) and am still working my way through it.  It's quite good (I think), but incredibly intense -- while I'm reading it I feel like my head's swimming and kind of lost.  Given that the narrator, 15-year-old Caden Bosch, is awash in the first onset of schizophrenia, that's probably a good and intended thing, but I'm finding it tough going.  I'll let you know when I finish!

In fact, the National Book Award folks decided that Challenger Deep, by established and talented author Neal Shusterman was the best of the crop, and gave it the 2015 Award for Young People's Literature.  On the other hand, on Monday morning Bone Gap, by author Laura Ruby,  was given the 2016 Printz Award (technically, the Michael L. Printz Award for Excellence in Young Adult Literature, quite a mouthful).  Yay for me!!

Bone Gap is a story of love lost and found, and about the difference between being being visible and being truly seen.   A mysterious young Polish woman suddenly appears in the O'Sullivan brothers' barn one night, bruised and silent.  For a while, Roza lives with them, healing herself and caring for them, as friend and confidant to spacey Finn, and eventually as fiancee to serious, responsible Sean.  And then she disappears, stolen right in front of Finn -- but he can't come up with enough details about the man who took her for anyone to believe him.   The only way to make things right again is for Finn to find Roza himself.

Bone Gap is a fine example of rural magical realism -- characters and situations that are real enough, but that tilt over into the otherworldly before tilting right back into real again.  Corn that murmers secrets and a boy who can hear them.   A barn that produces not only Roza, but later on a magnificent black horse that seems to know things, and can run on and on in the night.  A boy with arms too long, a girl who looks like a bee.   Is it magic or is it allegory?  In the end, the ability to look through the stories everyone knows, to see a person for who and how she truly is and not what she looks like, is what makes relationships real, and rescues joy from its dark captor and brings it back to Bone Gap.

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