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Idaho: A Novel by Emily Ruskovich

Idaho: A Novel (edition 2017)

by Emily Ruskovich (Author)

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1541377,562 (3.65)6
Title:Idaho: A Novel
Authors:Emily Ruskovich (Author)
Info:Random House (2017), Edition: Second Printing, 320 pages
Collections:To read

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Idaho by Emily Ruskovich

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    The Enchanted by Rene Denfeld (Anonymous user)

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Showing 1-5 of 13 (next | show all)
What a colossal waste of valuable time! ( )
  satxreader | Jun 2, 2017 |
This book made me sort of nuts, but in a way I don't trust. Maybe I read it at the wrong time, with too much heavy stuff going on and I needed a more distracting novel? That's not what I felt though. What I felt was frustration at how the book goes on and on without ever getting anywhere. But that's not the kind of thing that should bug me. I'm a huge defender of character driven, description heavy mood feats. But this seemed to lavish in its own thoughtfulness rather than actually being thoughtful. It seemed performative rather than felt. It felt terrifically uninsightful. Surface detail masquerading as philosophy.

I gave it 3 stars because I love the idea of a mystery about a murdering mother that resists the narrative imperatives and says, no, not only are there no solutions to the mystery, there's actually not even a mystery. Fucking bril. Love this from the jump. But then the book just grinds that sentence out into page after page of tedious details.

I worry that I am longing for something deeply conservative--a conclusion, likable, dynamic character to care about and identify with, forward movement, a central incident to gather the plot around--you know, bullshit narrative. Maybe the thing is if you take away that giant engine of narrative, you gotta find something else comparably huge to drive the reader onward.

The main thing--the central actions of the book are deeply unconvincing. Neither Jenny murdering her child nor Ann sacrificing herself to Wade and his story is remotely credible. Everything here is in love with itself rather than with the actual world--the section from a dog's point of view, the pregnant fools on the mountain, the weird prison friendships that may or may not end in stabbings. Can a book be both melodramatic and flat? This threads that terrible needle.

For sure I'm so hard on it because I want to at least like it. Somehow it makes so many moves I'm interested in but couldn't ever manage to become interesting. ( )
  wordlikeabell | Jun 1, 2017 |
I think the reason I gave this book four instead of three stars is the writing is beautiful. The plot itself isn't spectacular, the characters are well formed, but the writing is what seals the deal.
I found some of the multiple viewpoints to be superfluous to the main characters and the plot. The jumping around from year and perspective was enjoyable once I got used to it. It also added depth I don't know that the characters would have had without all the sifting narrators.
Overall sad and melancholy (due to the nature of the topics: child murder, dementia), it makes me feel odd to say it was enjoyable. ( )
  SadieRuin | May 24, 2017 |
Beautifully written. ( )
  DougJ110 | Apr 27, 2017 |
"In Emily Ruskovich's wizardly vision, Idaho is both a place and an emotional dimension. Haunted, haunting, her novel winds through time, braiding events and their consequences in the most unexpected and moving ways." -Andrea Barrett
If my Goodreads friends reviews were not enough, this comment by Andrea Barrett--whose books I enjoy--was the clincher, motivating my interest in reading it. When I finished Idaho I learned that Ruskovich had studied writing with two of my favorite writers, Marilynne Robinson and Ethan Canin.

The novel is a complicated, slow moving, intense story, delving into characters linked by love and horrific tragedy. The writing is gorgeous with no stock cliches. This is not a fast plot-driven read. It is not a happy story full of joy. It is about how people carry on living in the midst of pain.

Young marrieds Wade and Jenny had left the prairie to live on a mountain in Idaho, discovering later how isolated they were. They build a home from scratch, saved up for a plow so they could keep open the road going down the mountain in winter. They have two daughters and are happy.

Then Jenny killed their daughter May, for no apparent reason, in a thoughtless act. Wade hid their other daughter June in the forest to keep her safe, but when he returned for her she was gone, never to be found. Jenny is convicted to life in prison; she would have preferred death but remarked she should never again receive anything she wanted.

Early onset Alzheimer's disease runs in Wade's family; it caused his father's death when he wandered out and became lost in the snow. That does not stop school teacher Ann from falling in love with Wade and offering herself to be his caretaker. Wade has moments of clarity without memory, wanders off as his father did, and at times becomes dangerously violent. Wade has lost his daughters and memory of that loss, but the heartbreak of loss remains.

Ann once observed May giving a knife, made by Wade, to an older boy. She becomes obsessed with Wade's daughters and wife, the mystery of June's disappearance. The girls haunt the mountain and their home. Ann is also painfully aware of Jenny in prison.

Jenny's early self-destructive desire resolved into accepting her punishment as just. She finds the pain of scrubbing floors a soothing mortification. Without contact from the world, isolated within the prison of her own making, Jenny seeks nothing more from life. Until she decides to help her cellmate who has been banned from education classes; Jenny attends the classes, takes notes, and gives them to Elizabeth. Their friendship grows.

The story's ending is astonishing and moving and we discover Ann's power of love is truly redemptive.

Ruskovich joins the league of impressive first time published authors in 2016.

I received a free ebook from the publisher through NetGalley in exchange for a fair and unbiased review ( )
  nancyadair | Apr 19, 2017 |
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0812994043, Hardcover)

From O. Henry Prize–winning author Emily Ruskovich comes a stunning debut novel about love and forgiveness, about the violence of memory and the equal violence of its loss.
Ann and Wade have carved out a life for themselves from a rugged terrain in northern Idaho, where they are bound together by more than love. With her husband’s memory fading, Ann attempts to piece together the truth of what happened to Wade’s first wife, Jenny, and to their daughters. In a story written in exquisite prose and told from multiple perspectives—including Ann, Wade, and Jenny, now in prison—we gradually learn of the mysterious and shocking act that fractured Wade and Jenny's lives, of the love and compassion that brought Ann and Wade together, and of the memories that reverberate through the lives of every character in Idaho.
In a wild emotional and physical landscape, Wade’s past becomes the center of Ann’s imagination, as Ann becomes determined to understand the family she never knew—and to take responsibility for them, reassembling their lives, and her own.
Advance praise for Idaho
Idaho is both a place and an emotional dimension. Haunted, haunting, Ruskovich’s novel winds through time, braiding events and their consequences in the most unexpected and moving ways.”—Andrea Barrett
Idaho begins with a rusted truck and ends up places you couldn’t imagine. Its language is an enchantment, its vision brutal and sublime. This book is interested in what can’t be repaired and every kind of grace we find in the face of that futility. It caught and held me absolutely.”—Leslie Jamison
“Emily Ruskovich’s Idaho is a novel written like music. Striking arpeggios, haunting refrains, and then you come to a bridge, and Ruskovich leads you up into the mountains, introducing a chorus of rich and beautiful voices woven deep in the Idaho woods, each trying to come to their own understanding of a terrible tragedy. This book is full of extraordinary women and men overcoming extraordinary loss through love and forgiveness. Ruskovich digs deeply into everyday moments, and shows that it is there, in our quietest thoughts and experiences, where we find and create our true selves.”—Hannah Tinti, author of The Good Thief
“It’s been six years since I first read Emily Ruskovich’s breathtaking prose, felt the force of her unsparing imagination, and knew I was in the presence of a singular talent. I’ve been waiting for the novel she would write ever since.”—Leslie Jamison, author of The Empathy Exams
“Emily Ruskovich has written a poem in prose, a beautiful and intricate homage to place, and a celebration of the defeats and triumphs of love. Beautifully crafted, emotionally evocative, and psychologically astute, Idaho is one of the best books I have read in a long time.”—Chinelo Okparanta, author of Under the Udala Trees
“Emily Ruskovich has intricately entwined a terrifying human story with an austere and impervious setting. The result—something bigger than either—is beautiful, brutal, and incandescent.”—Deirdre McNamer, author of Red Rover

(retrieved from Amazon Wed, 23 Nov 2016 13:51:45 -0500)

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