Sunday, January 21, 2018

Review: Idaho

Idaho Idaho by Emily Ruskovich
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I heard an in-depth examination of this book when I recorded with a guest on Episode 086 of the Reading Envy Podcast, and last year I feel like ever blogger, reviewer, and podcaster had glowing things to say about the book. I put it on the "reading envy" list for 2017, aka books I wish I'd read but didn't get to (full list
I think when people don't like the book, it often has to do with what their expectations are. There is a crime described in the earlier sections, but the book does not really explain the crime. People expecting the author to do so end the book frustrated and unsatisfied. Knowing that isn't what the book is, well, that helps. It strikes me as similar to discussion surrounding a different book from a different award list - Reservoir 13, which started with a missing child, also never solved. In that book, the author kept pulling back and showing the town - both its people and natural elements - in their cycles beyond that event. And here too, the author is focusing in on the people directly and tangentially related to the crime, as they live their lives. Because it is not linear and more information is revealed, it does at times feel like there is a revelation coming soon, but it just doesn't end that way.

In Instagram, I had a great conversation with another reader, whose thoughts really put it all in perspective for me. Kristin-Leigh says
"To me, if I had to say, Idaho is really about the question of what makes people themselves as individuals - is it memory, or trauma, or relationships to others, or interests, and what happens to that identity when those elements change?

Is Wade still Wade without his memories? "
... Etc. (You can read her entire review here.)

I think this is one of those rare books to fit into that category I'm discovering really works for me - where the author takes you somewhere you aren't expecting, and keeps you in the world of the book long after you have finished because of that. I think this is one of the better books in the Tournament of Books this year!

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