Idaho: A Novel
Wade Mitchell’s past is split brutally into a before and after: one lovely summer day, an ordinary errand–chopping wood in the mountains–left one of his daughters missing and one dead. Years later, Wade’s new wife, Ann, tries in her own quiet way to unravel the mystery of what happened, which is no easy task since Wade has never been willing to discuss it–and, more problematic, his memory is rapidly disappearing. Ann and Wade live more or less contentedly in the knowledge that their daily life is fundamentally different from other people’s and that unlucky genes have fated their happiness to be fleeting. Meanwhile, in a women’s prison, two women flounder into an unexpected friendship that results in the one thing no one in this fractured family web has ever sought: redemption.
With a narrative that skips back and forth in time and across multiple points of view, Idaho plunges into the lifelong fissures left by unfathomable loss and shows how pain can change and recede without necessarily fading. Ruskovich’s prose is poetic and searing, but her spot-on descriptions of nature–both human and environmental–stop short of easy explanations. The horrific act at the center of this novel defies comprehension, but Ruskovich’s beautiful story ultimately shows that accepting even the most terrible mysteries is the only way to carry on.