Thursday, March 9, 2017

IdahoIdaho by Emily Ruskovich
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I want you to read this book, it is so beautifully written. The key points are bleak as the writer braids together the lives of a rural family in Idaho, Idaho is another character in the book, over five decades and the story weaves back and forth between the dead and the living. There is a shocking murder and then incarceration. There is early-onset dementia and a missing child but all along are the different kinds of love threading through the years. Descriptions of the two preteen sisters stay with me, May reluctant to leave her older sister even to sleep: "June so close beside her, and the scared-dog smell of June invisible beneath the smell of the wet cushion and the cooling trees, that she could fall asleep here on her sister's shoulder...and not wake up until morning." p.294 And more: “sibling laughter–he can hear it– not the laughter of school friends or neighbors or cousins. Something secret in that laughter, private, edged with meanness and devotion.”

The vague guilt and nobility of the music teacher, Ann, as she tracks the changes in her husband's mind during the piano lessons. "One week he's playing both hands together. The next week, he struggles on a children's song, with only his right hand. Slowly, as the weeks go by and the weather turns cold, she turns the pages the place where they met, to the place where he didn't know the names of any notes." Someone called the book a poem in prose. It catches you and holds you at first stunned by the irreversible final act and then by the empathy of the characters, and of the author, as they struggle to survive loss. Ruskovich's song lyrics haunt me as though I could hear the melody: “Take your picture off the wall And carry it away. Dye your hair the shades of fall. Don't let time turn it to gray..."
A captivating tale and worth your time.

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