LOS ANGELES TIMES BESTSELLER • A stunning debut novel about love and forgiveness, about the violence of memory and the equal violence of its loss—from O. Henry Prize–winning author Emily Ruskovich
WINNER OF THE PACIFIC NORTHWEST BOOK AWARD • WINNER OF THE DUBLIN LITERARY AWARD • NAMED ONE OF THE BEST BOOKS OF THE YEAR BY BUZZFEED
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.
FINALIST FOR: International Dylan Thomas Prize • Edgar First Novel Award • Young Lions Fiction Award
“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 (Editors’ Choice)
“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
APPLE BOOKS REVIEW
Loss comes in many forms in Emily Ruskovich’s astounding debut novel, which is set in the remote reaches of America’s mountainous West. After Wade’s family is destroyed by a staggering act of violence, he attempts to make a new life with Ann, but the couple’s tentative happiness is tested by an insidious illness and the lingering ghosts of past loves. Ruskovich—who won the 2015 O. Henry Prize for one of her meticulously constructed short stories—is a masterful and elegant storyteller, depicting her characters’ suffering with empathic grace. At its core, Idaho is a love story, haunted by the whispers of lives that might have been.
In Ruskovich's beautifully constructed debut novel, Ann attempts to piece together her husband Wade's past namely, the murder of his younger daughter, May, by his ex-wife, Jenny, and the disappearance of his elder daughter, June, which took place years ago, on the mountain where Wade and Ann now live. The book is set in the alluring and haunting landscape of Idaho, spanning over 50 years, and depicting Ann's obsession and determination to figure out what exactly Jenny's motives were and just what happened to the girls. Jenny is now in jail, mostly keeping to herself while serving a life sentence, and Ann is caring for Wade while he suffers from genetic early-onset dementia, training dogs, and making knives. All the while, Ann and Wade hope that June may still be alive, after 18 years of no news. With her amazing sentences, Ruskovich draws readers into the novel's world, using a number of well-developed voices to describe various perspectives, allowing readers to understand the complexities of the story as well as Ann does. Shocking and heartbreaking, Ruskovich has crafted a remarkable love story and a narrative that will stay with readers.
Good read but lacked a good ending.
One of the most beautifully written books I’ve ever read. I anxiously await her next novel.
The prose is beautiful and the descriptions are enormous. However, the unanswered questions left me disappointed.