FICTION

Idaho

Random. Jan. 2017. 320p. ISBN 9780812994049. $27; ebk. ISBN 9780812994056. F
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Ann and Wade live a solitary life in the mountains of northern Idaho. In his 50s, Wade has early-onset dementia, and his memory has started to fade. The only good thing about this development is that he begins to forget an appalling family catastrophe: his first wife, Jenny, now long in prison, brutally murdered their young daughter May with an ax, apparently with no warning. Their other daughter, June, ran terrified into the woods and was never seen again. This could be the plot of a psychological thriller, but the awful violence is mercifully muted, and this novel is more about mood than suspense. The chapters zigzag back and forth from different times in the past to the near future and include sad scenes of a zombie-like incarcerated Jenny. Unfortunately, the writing is opaque and oblique just when one would like more clarity and insight into the characters.
VERDICT First-time novelist Ruskovich has written a family tragedy that will be appreciated by aficionados of literary fiction rendered poetically. However, many will find the unrelenting misery and melancholy just too depressing.

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