Idaho by Emily Ruskovich
Summary as seen on Goodreads:
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.
Narration alternates throughout the novel, Idaho, as we travel back and forth in time to learn about main character, Wade, his father, first wife Jenny, and their daughters May and June, as well as Ann, his piano teacher and second wife. We also get to know Eliot, a schoolmate of May and June’s and a student of Ann’s. The storytelling is slow and deliberate, each chapter reveals information that connects the characters to each other and gives the reader a greater understanding of their emotions and actions.
Wade succumbs to memory failure as he battles early onset dementia like his father and grandfather. Jenny gives up on life and self punishes, and Ann lives with secrets and guilt as she pieces together her ideas and thoughts to create what she believes is the truth of the past. Fighting memories, real and imagined, and exercising forgiveness in the face of loss, I struggled along with each character as they tried to remember, tried to forget, and tried to make sense of it all.
Emily Ruskovich did an exceptional job with character development and I have to believe she put a lot of time and thought into who each character was, what they believed in and how they would think and act in any situation. Through their relationships they are portrayed as real and whole and complex. The rural, solitary setting in Idaho made for a secluded and eerie feeling, perfect for the storyline (No spoilers!). I Highly recommend this book if you want to read a slower paced, thoughtful novel that is more character focused and less action packed.