A NovelBook - 2017
Finalist for the New York Public Library's Young Lions Fiction Award
Ann and Wade have carved out a life for themselves from a rugged landscape 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.
Praise for Idaho
"You know you're in masterly hands here. [Emily] Ruskovich's language is itself a consolation, as she subtly posits the troubling thought that only decency can save us. . . . Ruskovich's novel will remind many readers of the great Idaho novel, Marilynne Robinson's Housekeeping. . . . [A] wrenching and beautiful book." --The New York Times Book Review
"Sensuous, exquisitely crafted." --The Wall Street Journal
"The first thing you should know about Idaho, the shatteringly original debut by O. Henry Prize winner Emily Ruskovich, is that it upturns everything you think you know about story. . . . You could read Idaho just for the sheer beauty of the prose, the expert way Ruskovich makes everything strange and yet absolutely familiar." --San Francisco Chronicle
"Mesmerizing . . . [an] eerie story about what the heart is capable of fathoming and what the hand is capable of executing." --Marie Claire
" Idaho is a wonderful debut. Ruskovich knows how to build a page-turner from the opening paragraph." --Ft. Worth Star-Telegram
"Ruskovich's debut is haunting, a portrait of an unusual family and a state that becomes a foreboding figure in her vivid depiction." --The Huffington Post
From the critics
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p. 253 Music "That original song hovers over her, barely upheld. But breaking through these terrible chords, the high intervals of the right hand trip over the rocks in streams, recover themselves, and struggle, running in a breathless scale, up."
p. 259 "Downstairs , her father practices the piano. The earthquake chords, the pedal tones, the fingertips, again. The words her father never gets to because his giant hands can't make it there. His hands are climbing up a mountain in the music. They are dragging his stumbling voice along, over the boulders loose in the dirt. His hands are slipping down, then reaching up, pulling at the branches and the long, tough weeds."
p. 144 Disgust "Such a request, when May had known already to keep it secret, aged her a little. She became aware of somethng deep inside of herself, trapped underneath her ordinary love, stale and pungent and faintly sweet and quickly disappearing, like the opening of a forgotten jar inside of which a pet grasshopper has days ago died among its wilted grasses. Disgust: It is a feeling older than she is."
p. 196 "Ann feels relief, yes, but she is also shocked. She knows from the casual gestures, from the simplicity of his smile, the absence of pain, that she has inherited his family wholly now, that nothing can bring them back. For the first time ever, she knows for certain that they live only in her."
p. 64 cont'd " rightful - border, and those trees and rocks become something other than themselves, a history that is the history of the people who claim them; the dark trees are exclusive, conspiratorial....this land they're all so proud of is worthless. Steep, parched, dusty, and susceptible to fire in the summers, and the summers a reprieve from the winters that define these mountains."
p. 116 "Outside the coyotes' howls bore tunnels through the frozen silence. The ravens in the trees anticipate the spring, when they will nudge their weakest from their nests, this act already in their hearts as if already committed. The garter snakes, deep in the ground, hibernate alert. Bodies cold, unmoving; minds twitching, hot. So many secret, coiled wills, a million centers spiraling out, colliding into a clap of silence that is this very moment in the house, this beautiful oblivion in which they love each other."
"...flies rise again and buzz and bounce...as the dense yellow light through the widow penetrates the fractured panels of their wings and warms them in these moments when everything is safe." p. 13
p. 22 "Ann imagined the old spotted horses chomping their hay nearby. The hornets in the corners buzzed, and outside somewhere, under the clothesline where rose-colored shirts were starched with sunshine, two girls were filling miniature blue teacups with sand."
p. 25 "...she felt that those three forgotten years in Idaho had settled deep inside of her and unsettled all those beautiful years that followed. Idaho was the mine and England the unsteady surface of her life."
p. 64 "Acres and acres of land, and yet entire lives are spent within a twenty-foot radius around some trailer. But ownership reaches out from the filthy beds, where bodies are sleeping in the flickers of afternoon TV; it reaches out, a sweeping arm, across every tree and rock contained within its legal - and nevertheless
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