Read Remark Book Review - Idaho by Emily Ruskovich

Book Review: Idaho by Emily Ruskovich

One-sentence summary:
Many years ago, Wade’s wife killed one child and another went missing.

Idaho lives in the shadow of a horrible incident that happened years ago.

Ann and Wade live a quiet married life on their small farm in Idaho. It seems ideal. She was a schoolteacher and he has found love for a second time after his failed first marriage. But there are cracks to their idyllic life.

Wade’s first wife killed one child, and the other has gone missing. Wade suffers from early-onset Alzheimer’s. Troubled by his past, he sometimes goes into a confused fugue state and holds Ann down by her head, imploring “No…no.”

It’s the type of trauma to Ann that initially sounds like a deal breaker. But this isn’t some nefarious stranger holding her down. This is her beloved husband. His confusion comes in short bursts, then is replaced by the same calm, repentant, loving spouse. His past traumas grant him latitude.

All the while, Ann imagines various scenarios of what exactly happened those years ago. The past is muddled and lost in her husband’s brain.

There are a few diversions in the course of the story. There are the neighbors who comforted Wade and Jenni right after the incident. There’s Elizabeth, Jenni’s prison roommate. There’s the crazy emu lady. The boy with the fake leg. Ivy, the careless and somewhat uncaring ex-girlfriend.

These side players just add noise to the story. They somewhat provide a sense of place and community, but more than that, serve as filler that should have been left out .

Idaho starts off promising. It’s a gently unveiling but engrossing mystery, meandering to the bottom of what actually happened and why.

But then,

I wonder if this represents a new genre we need to officially identify. One that masquerades as suspense, but should really be labeled “atmospheric” (as reluctant as I am to put a definitive label on things).

Right now, these books seem to be mismarketed, leaving readers like me, who are unsatisfied by them, in the lurch. It does a disservice to both the reader and the book, which would certainly get better reviews in the right hands.

Overall, Idaho is a good book with well-drawn characters.

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[…] without resolution seems to be a trend in literature lately (recent examples: Universal Harvester, Idaho). This is very frustrating to me. It’s not as frustrating in this book, but there’s no […]

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