11/10/2017

Idaho by Emily Ruskovich

Idaho
Author: Emily Ruskovich
Publisher: Random House UK
Publication Date: 16th February 2017
Buy: Amazon | Book Depository | Wordery
One hot August day a family drives to a mountain clearing to collect birch wood. Jenny, the mother, is in charge of lopping any small limbs off the logs with a hatchet. Wade, the father, does the stacking. The two daughters, June and May, aged nine and six, drink lemonade, swat away horseflies, bicker, and sing snatches of songs as they while away the time.
But then something unimaginably shocking happens, an act so extreme it will scatter the family in every different direction. 
In a story told from multiple perspectives and in razor-sharp prose, we gradually learn more about this act, and the way its violence, love and memory reverberate through the life of every character in Idaho.

I had high hopes for this one as I'd heard great things about it - slow paced, beautifully written, scenic - thumbs up. But my days did it take me a long time to read. Incredibly character driven this is the story of Ann, Jenny and Wade, how they're relationships coincide and the terrible act that is the underbelly of the entire book.

It is told in a non-linear fashion through a series of almost vignettes. Some of the scenes from this book are completely ingrained in my mind - the physical attacks Ann tolerates, the ostrich eggs being carved when Ann runs away, the portraits painted of June. June's smell. She is an incredibly talented author and I look forward to reading more by her, but for me this book wasn't quite as compelling as I would have liked. I'm okay with unanswered questions, I actually like books that are brave enough to do this. June's story in the book rings true, but, for me, May's did not. There is no answer as to why Jenny did what she did that day in terms of her character. We don't gain an insight into what made her flip, just that she's incredibly sorry and will never forgive herself. This is what didn't quite work for me. There were also some passages that I felt were over done and Ruskovich gets a bit lost in her own knowledge of a subject - there was one particular passage about writing music that completely threw me out of the story.

Having stepped away from this book and talked about it with a fellow reader, I was amazed at the detail I remembered and the conversation it generated. We agreed that Emily Ruscovich is a talented writer and I'm eager to read what she publishes next.


Verdict:
Story - 3/5
Writing - 4/5
Character - 4/5
Memorability - 4/5
Overall rating - 4/5

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