Idaho by Emily Ruskovich

Idaho by Emily Ruskovich

Published by Random House (January 3, 2017)
320 pages
Kindle Edition
Advance reading copy provided by the publisher
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As one of the novels I included in my list of top ten 2017 debuts, I'd really been looking forward to reading Idaho; I'd read some great pre-publication comments and Shannon at River City Reading, with whom I share some preferences for reading material, wrote up some positive thoughts

However, approaching the time that I'd planned to read it, I started to hear the rustle of discontent; other reading friends were giving not-so-favorable reports and I'll steer you to their reviews, too. Both Sarah of Sarah's Book Shelves and Catherine at The Gilmore Guide to Books seemed less than delighted. I was hesitant to begin. 

After only a short time, I found myself completely captivated by the author's writing; I thought, "how could anyone not appreciate this work?" And then, by around two-thirds of the way into the novel, I understood their discomfort.

Meaning is like music; it catches and is carried. It returns. Refrains, phrases, the names of passing boats. Stuck in my head, it’s stuck in my head. The way stories fasten themselves to words, words fasten themselves to vulnerable rhythms, impressionable tunes. Ann is skilled in the archaeology of carried music. It holds on like fear, like love.

Idaho is like a slow burn; as a reader, I felt full of lighter fluid and ready for something huge to ignite, but that's not what this story is trying to accomplish. The author takes us along a journey that includes the perspectives of several different characters as we travel through their losses, and there are many. The losses, along with the fact that they reside in the state of Idaho (another character, of sorts, in the novel), are what connect them.

When you love someone who has died, and her death disappears because you can’t remember it, what you are left with is merely the pain of something unrequited.

It would be helpful, I think, to know that while this novel may start out with the tone of a mystery or thriller, it is more akin to reading poetry; you will likely be left to some of your own interpretation and that may not be your cup of tea. For me, the writing made the novel worth reading because, just as I found myself feeling a little lost, a little empty, Ruskovich would grab me again with one of her powerful passages. 

How easily we come apart. How quickly someone else’s life can enter through the cracks we don’t know are there until this foreign thing is inside of us. We are more porous than we know.
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