Idaho Emily Ruskovich

Idaho by Emily Ruskovich

Idaho by Emily RuskovichIdaho Published by Random House Publishing Group on January 3rd 2017
Source: Publisher
Pages: 320
Buy from IndieBound


The majority of Emily Ruskovich’s new novel is voiced by Ann, a former teacher and endlessly devoted second wife to Wade as he battles with early-onset dementia. Though the couple has several years of memories in their secluded Idaho home for Ann to help Wade retain, she can’t help but feel the presence of the daughter he lost and the wife imprisoned for her death.

Idaho is a quiet book, almost masterful in its ability to dodge both convention and gimmick. There’s suspense in waiting for the story to unfold, but it’s a slow realization you’ve been holding your breath over a heart-pounding page-turner. I’m sure some will complain that “nothing happens”, but all I see is brilliant writing and unmistakable atmosphere in that nothing. And all the way through, Ruskovich refuses to believe readers need their hands held, shifting perspectives with little more than dates to note the change and letting stories do the work instead.

This is all rather elusive, but Idaho is a book best read with foggy vision. While there are bits and pieces of the novel that feel misplaced, like they’ve not been given the same care as the rest of the story, it’s an amazingly powerful book that’s set an extremely high bar for my reading year.

  • Kailana

    Well, that sounds like a great way to start off 2017!

  • I loved Idaho’s quietness & the writing at most points, but your point in the last paragraph about pieces feeling misplaced (or I felt a bit purposeless) kind of outweighed some of the other good stuff for me :(

    • I can definitely see that. In this type of book it didn’t really bother me, since it felt a bit more like the way life is – people moving in and out in different ways – and it almost seemed to fit.

  • I’m more with you than Sarah on Idaho. I think it could have done with a little more editing, but in total I liked it very much and thought her writing was excellent. The story clicked for me when I moved from wanting to know about the crime to caring about Ann.

    • I think the distinction between the crime and characters are important…a book like this is definitely less about events and more about people.

  • I’ve been eagerly awaiting this book! I’ll definitely be reading it at some point this year!

  • Lauren

    Ooh. This sounds like my kind of jam. It was on my list, but now with a bullet.

    • Oh I would LOVE to hear what you think of it if you do read!

      • Lauren @ Malcolm Avenue Review

        Just put in a hold at the library. We’ll see what happens with that. I don’t think I’ve read a library book in six months. Blerg.

  • As if I didn’t already want to read this one… hurry up library!

  • Super important question. I am aware there is a character called Jenny in this book. At any point in this book is the Jenny in this book a prostitute? And if no, a followup: At any point in this book is the Jenny in this book dead? Pls report results. I am not going to read the book either way because it sounds like I would hate it even though I think you are a beautiful genius with good taste that I love.

  • You really captured the atmosphere of this novel in your review. Hard to do!

  • This is a lovely review and a great post. NOW I know why I read your blog (besides the fact that you live in Richmond and I’m a transplanted Virginian.

  • Books on the Table

    I’m wondering what I missed in this book. I get that it was character-driven rather than plot-driven — which is a plus for me — but I didn’t understand the motivations for either Ann’s or Jenny’s actions.

  • So you don’t think Idaho is too slow moving? I actually have it on hold at the library – so I might get to it this month … if you think it’s a worthy read.

    • It’s not a heavily plotted novel, so it’s hard to think about it in terms of pace…it’s much more about the characters and atmosphere. I’d say if you tend to need a solid plot to grab onto it may not be one you’ll love.

  • Okay, I’m definitely going to give it a try; I’ve been hesitant, based on a few others’ comments/reviews, but it is on my list of debuts that I REALLY want to read this year so I think I owe it the time! In other news, I’m currently reading Universal Harvester and, at only a quarter of the way in, I hate having to put it down.

  • Pingback: January Preview and The Association of Small Bombs - The Cue CardThe Cue Card()

  • Like Tara, I’ve heard mixed things about this book, but it made my list of books I’m most looking forward to this year, so I may yet give it a chance :)

  • Ooh, this sounds right up my alley.