by Emily Ruskovich
Near the end of this book, two sisters — June, 9, and May, 6 — are playing together in the woods.
They search for their lost orange tabby cat Rocket. They play fortune-telling games to find out who they will marry and how they will live. They find abandoned furniture and set up a pretend house.
The scene is poignant. The two girls have been at odds with each other as June edges away from childhood. Within another few hours, May will be suddenly, inexplicably murdered by her mother. June, in horror, will run away and never be seen by her family again.
Author Emily Ruskovvich guides readers back and forth across 40 years telling the entwined stories of Wade Mitchell’s life with his first wife Jenny and daughters June and May, and of Wade and his second wife Ann, whom he married just 10 months after the murder.
Absence haunts this story. The absence of the dead and missing daughters. The absence of the incarcerated wife and mother. And, poignantly, the growing absence of Wade’s memories as Alzheimer’s takes over his mind.
Repeatedly, Ann tries to imagine the late summer scene at the truck in the clearing where Wade and Jenny were loading birchwood for the winter while the two girls played. What snapped? What changed? What led to the violence? Had Jenny suspected that a relationship was developing between Wade and Ann as Ann taught him piano lessons at the school his daughter attended?
This is a dazzling first novel: beautifully written, engagingly told, subtle and haunting.
About the Author: Emily Ruskovich (1986 – )
Idaho was awarded the world’s richest literary prize, the International Dublin Literary Award, in June 2019. She was only the fourth American to win the prize in its 24-year history.
Emily Ruskovich grew up on Hoodoo Mountain in the panhandle of Idaho, an intriguing, often frightening place. She currently lives in Idaho City with her husband and daughter.
She wrote the first chapter of Idaho as a stand-alone story while in graduate school at the Iowa Writers Workshop.
She teaches creative writing in the master of fine arts program at Boise State University. She is a winner of a 2015 O. Henry Award for her story “Owl,” the Idaho Book Award and a Pacific Northwest Book Award.