"Emily Ruskovich, a native Idahoan herself, captures all the sexy parts of my home state in her debut novel: snow falling from the boughs of Evergreens; the great hush of rural life; using old garbage cans as swimming pools in summer. But she doesn’t stop there. Her novel begins with a dog trainer named Wade and his severe—sometimes violent—case of early-onset dementia. Then, a really effed-up murder (you won’t believe it until you read it). Ruskovich reminds us of the tragedy of human memory: it’s all just a mix of chemicals and neural impulses, drifting from one synapse to the next, to be erased or altered at Nature’s whimsy. Her sustained metaphors are celestial in nature and will continue to orbit your brainspace long after locking them away.
Read this thing. Explore the woods a bit. Or better yet: go full Thoreauvian, take Idaho with you, and shut yourself in a cabin for two years. You’ll leave broken and eager for another round."
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 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. 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 “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, and now it’s here: 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, 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