“The revelation of kindness hurts worse than cruelty. There is no way to equal it. Nowhere to put her gratitude, and so it thrashes in her body.”
My first read of the year! Huzzah! I’m not entirely sure what I expected with this novel, but it definitely wasn’t what I thought it was. I went in pretty blind, however, I really enjoyed it. Idaho is dark and emotional, lyrical and haunting, and frankly, that’s always a winner for me.
Idaho is a novel that jumps around in time and perspective – one of my favourite kinds of narrative devices. We begin in 2004, a present time of sorts, and we learn of the catalyst through the eyes of Ann. By the end of the novel we have been into the childhood of June and May – the childhood of their parents – and the future becomes the present with the novel ending in 2025. Each chapter, so to speak, is a different point in time told by a different character’s perspective. Ruskovich achieves this effortlessly and it’s hard to believe this is only her first novel.
The characters in Idaho are so beautifully human; each with their own flaws, which, through Ruksovich’s lyrical writing style allows a sense of understanding, even in the most horrific of acts.
“How easily we come apart. How quickly someone else’s life can enter through the cracks we don’t know are there until this foreign thing is inside of us. We are more porous than we know.”
I particularly loved the storyline of Jenny and Elizabeth – a pleasant surprise to me, something I honestly didn’t see coming, and it definitely gave me pangs of nostalgia for Girl, Interrupted and The Bell Jar. (I’m always a sucker for female friendship in ‘uncommon’ places). If you know me irl, you know that I have an affinity with the elderly and any story with an elderly character at it’s core – you’ve got me there. Ruskovich’s depiction of Alzheimer’s was so accurate and heartbreaking – I couldn’t have imagined it better myself. The scene when Adam is narrowing which out of the five houses are his had me definitely tearing up. I also don’t believe I’ll ever forget May and June’s afternoon in their private garbage can swimming pools. And Ann’s composition at the end, had me almost bawling and I could just see everything on a screen, the music accompanying. This would kind of make a great film(!)
“Perhaps it’s what both their hearts have been wanting all along—to be broken. In order to know that they are whole enough to break.”
Ruskovich’s prose is elegiac; exquisite and affecting, and yet while this novel did surprise me with it’s sense of langour – I couldn’t quite bring myself to give it 5 stars.
Recommended for fans of:
- The Essex Serpent (Sarah Perry) – minus the gothic. Ruskovich writes women who are unlike any I’ve read before and much like Perry, her writing is lyrical and full of emotion and atmosphere.
- Girl, Interrupted (Susannah Kaysen) – minus the hospital setting. Jenny and Elizabeth’s (and Elizabeth and Sylvia’s) friendship definitely had me thinking of Susannah and Lisa at times.
“She felt the waves of her grief collide with the waves of other griefs felt no longer by anyone alive, but carried on the breezes that smelled the same as they had to the people who suffered those griefs a century ago.”
Have you read and loved this one??? What do you think about my comparisons? Did this novel remind you of any others you’ve loved (or hated)?
I hope your reading year is off to a pleasant start folks,
do svidaniya xx