Post by Mark T. Locker.
Bone Gap by Laura Ruby.
Well, the ALA midwinter session came and went, and as we all know (at least those of us involved in libraries know) that means the announcement of several major awards for excellence in American children’s literature. The Newbery, The Coretta Scott King award, the Caldecott and the Printz to name a few.
I am always particularly interested in the Printz award, given for the best in new young adult novels written by Americans. Always thought-provoking and often challenging, this year is no disappointment. Laura Ruby has written a few books before winning the Printz for Bone Gap. But her earlier novels such as The Wall and the Wing are for younger readers and somewhat straighforward magical reading. Bone Gap is gritty, full of aches and love and turmoil and hope, much like real life. It’s also full of magic which, sadly, is less like real life.
Finn and Sean O’Sullivan are left to their own devices when their mother leaves her family in Bone Gap, Illinois for an orthodontist in Oregon who dislikes children. As teens, she expects they can look after themselves. Then one day, Roza shows up, injured, scared, and hiding in their barn. Only a year or two older than Sean, they take her in and give her the apartment in their home. When she suddenly vanishes, everyone in the small town believes she just decided to leave. But Finn knows what happened. He knows she was taken, but nobody believes him.
It’s difficult to summarize this book. It manages to tell the story in several timelines and from two different points of views, all without getting confusing or muddled. We learn how Roza came to America from Poland and we learn what happened when she shows up in the barn, but not necessarily in that order.
Dealing with teenage and adult subject matter, this book is better suited to the high school or adult audience but is not a story to be missed. Both disturbing and magical and lovely, the Printz Award has chosen a great novel to bear its medal.