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Thursday, December 29, 2016

Review: Idaho by Emily Ruskovich

The center of the story is as follows: Wade and Jenny lead a simple life with their two daughters, May and June. Tragedy overcomes them when May is murdered by her own mother and June goes missing. Jenny gets life in prison for her act of violence and Wade moves on, marrying a piano teacher, Ann, the following year. Ann struggles with Wade's grief and early onset dementia and its ability to cause violent outbursts—all the while trying to piece together his tragic past, using only her imagination.

The story is told from multiple points. We see through the eyes of Wade, Ann, Jenny, Jenny's cell mate (Elizabeth), Wade's father, May, and even at one point, a hound dog. With bringing in so many points of view and doing it in a non-linear fashion (bouncing back and forth through the years from 1973-2025 sporadically), there were some points of confusion on who was "speaking" and where we were in the story. I became invested in the characters, but in the end...I was left without any answers. Maybe that was the point of the story—that it wasn't necessary and that the ending was more about the growth of the characters rather than the answers to the questions that were popping up in my mind. While that may be fine for some readers, I was a bit disappointed.

Be mindful that this isn't a happy read—it is deep, dark, raw, emotional, REAL and hits you in the gut. Idaho has very little dialogue, but on the plus side (as I like dialogue), the author's prose is outstanding! She writes beautifully and really brings her characters to life. She brings forth the human capacity for grief, love and forgiveness through imperfect lives. At times, it was like reading beautiful poetry in a grim setting.

Those who like psychological, dark, atmospheric reads dealing more in emotional aptitude, rather than gaining the answers to a puzzle will find this to be a nice winter read. Prepare yourself for beautiful words, but be warned that your investment may not get the payback you're seeking.

★ ★ ★ 

fiction | contemporary

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