Could you love a man suffering from post traumatic stress disorder if he abused you?
She got down on her knees in front of the television. He pushed one side of her face hard against the TV screen, saying in his practiced voice, “No! No!” This was the way she loved him now.
What if the cause of his trauma was a single impulsive moment where his ex wife murdered his daughter with a hatchet? What if his other daughter was lost in the woods? What if he was also suffering from dementia?
He has lost his daughters, but he has also lost the memory of losing them. But he has not lost the loss.
In her debut novel, Idaho, Emily Ruskovich explores themes of tragedy, loss, love, and forgiveness as she slowly reveals the answers to some of these questions in this gripping story.
IDAHO: A NOVEL
By Emily Ruskovich
322 pp. Random House $17
While the story is filled with intrigue and mystery, Ruskovich poetically dances around the murder itself and instead chooses to focus on the human aspects of the people that are left behind to deal with the consequences. We get glimpses into the memories of the people involved. Spanning multiple decades and told from the perspectives of several different people, each chapter provides a new memory, giving us another piece of the story.
Selfishly, one of my favorite parts of the book in the context of the tralev project is when Ann speculates on the meaning of the word “Idaho”. The etymology of the name is shrouded in mystery, hoaxes, and misinterpretations. Ruskovich adds to the lore of the name with her own version of the origin story which results in “a state named after a little girl named after another little girl.”
When suddenly she ran away from him, toward the door that led into the halls of Congress, he called out to her, Ida! Ho! Come back to me!
In the afterward, Random House published an interview with Ruskovich discussing the origins of the book and story. Ruskovich claims that her goal was to tell a real and compelling story. Unlike a traditional mystery where the reader get’s the satisfaction of discovering what happens in the end, Ruskovich focuses on the “unanswered question that the living victims will be forced to chase forever and forever, without resolution.” The empty feeling that you might get when you finish this novel is compensated by the beautiful prose, rich characters, and wonderful story that Ruskovich weaves together.