Book Review ‘Idaho’ Emily Ruskovich

“Listen to the sadness,
the echoes in my mind,
the place where I usually hide,
but now I cannot find…”
Anthony T. Hincks

Short synopsis: One hot August day a family drives to a mountain clearing to collect birch wood. Jenny, the mother, is in charge of lopping any small limbs off the logs with a hatchet. Wade, the father, does the stacking. The two daughters, June and May, aged nine and six, drink lemonade, swat away horseflies, bicker, and sing snatches of songs as they while away the time.
But then something unimaginably shocking happens, an act so extreme it will scatter the family in every different direction.


One man
Two women
Two kids
One murder
Seven destroyed lives
Or four.
Or five. Not sure.

The novel ‘Idaho’ is a tale about love, forgiveness, violence, loss and the melancholy of life. It is depressingly-sad with a touch of the shy laugh and the hopeless unfancy ugliness (advice: skip it if you feel depressed) 

Why had it happened?
What had she done?
Where was she in that moment?

Did I miss the ending?

No, you didn’t miss anything. The novel doesn’t have the ‘usual-crime-story-end’. Just like in the real life – there’s no fkn ending, because the life always goes on.


We are following the family of Wade and Jenny (plus their 2 kids: May and June) through the novel. We are jumping between the years, memories, emotions (the story takes place between 1973 and 2025, but the novel is not presented chronologically to reader). We are peering into the tragic past, into the meaning of country-side life, into the wow-forever-love.

Story: the child was killed – a killer caught – one more child has disappeared inside of the local forest.
Method of killing – hatchet
Killer – mom
Cause – unknown. There’s no fkn motive. It’s just life. Things happens.

Here’s the child.
Here’s the parent.
Here’s the hatchet.
That’s HOW simple to commit the crime.

I think we should rename the novel and call it – ‘Mom-butcher’…

Do not forget about dad, Wade – the only MAN in the whole story. Of course he is NOT (can not be!) a normal man. Because, right… nobody is normal haha. So this is one more story about the normal quiet life with abnormal heroes.

What was inside him would never go away.
What had happened would never not have happened.
Paul Russell

Wade has an unusual kind of dementia. Dementia on the edge of ‘Let Me Kill You Softly’. With such interesting disease he’d be a perfect killer, but nope. ‘This is not a story about the killer, this is a story about how to die the HARD WAY,’ – telling us the author.
And he died.
Without the memories that his daughter have been murdered.
Or that he had a daughter.

Yeah, life is not the stories of Agatha Christie.
The reality is always dumb-boring, mentally-foggy and no fun at all. 

Attention: one more woman in the story – Ann. Who is Ann? One mad MAD chick. But very kind. Probably she’s the one who have murdered our poor Wade…Sigh.


The most beautiful about the novel is the style of the writing. I’m going to agree with people who called it “gorgeously wrenching”. It’s like a criminal poetry, it gets inside of you: kills you a bit, brings the first aid, shows it to your face …and then leaves you to bleed. To death.

Also I liked that the author didn’t use those boring descriptions I often see in the books:

a) ‘his blue eyes was matching her nail polish’
b) ‘her feet were mysterious and emotionally tired’

In the ‘Idaho’ you get to know the heroes through their thoughts, decisions, silence, sights. It makes you feel like you know them, you share their pain, happiness, love. 

The most interesting about the novel: you aren’t sure what had happened and who is the bad guy. The mystery remains even after you have finished the book. Or maybe I just didn’t get it.

Rate: I’d buy this book again.

Next post: Origami – Heart. Part 2: The Bad. 
I’ll be busy until Saturday, folks, but I’ll try to post on Thursday and Sunday. And I’ll give you more reading-checking-time after my mom will leave = after Saturday. 

Book Reviews

Victoria Ray NB View All →

Living in Sweden. Awesome. Happy. Writing. Ayurvedic food. Healthy lifestyle. Dogs. Literature. Drawing. Meditation/Yoga.

40 Comments Leave a comment

  1. Well….this sounds interesting and I loved how you wrote about this book. The style of the writing in your review interested me as much as the story line of the book!

    • Haha 😂 Id send u for free, bcz i fnished the book 🙂 anyway going to throw away.
      But there’s no suspense in the book, it is about life 🙂
      Ps. I think u’ll like Ann lol

      • Haha 😂😂 i have to try that with my Swedish books 📚
        Unfortunately Swedish peeps doesn’t like to read in English so those I have to burn or throw away sigh

  2. Okay, I read all that you wrote. I understood it. I understand a little bit more about your mind. Your life. Your opinions are interesting. The way you review books is interesting. But I don’t want to read this book. How would it be different if you had written this novel?

    • Thats okay. I’m not saying you have to read this book. I don’t think everybody will enjoy it. Its a bit too melancholic (reminded me some novels of classic russian literature of XIX). It is also slow-paced, but I liked it anyway. I mean if I knew the ending …hm, I don’t know if I’d buy the book lol but just to enjoy the style of the writing/the general emotion thru the book – I’d give it a strong 3,5-4 🙂 anyway, it probably feels so bcz I’m reading different genres all the time.
      How would it be different?
      I don’t know. I can’t write like that, haha, but I love the feeling of melancholy in the writing (not too much tho), so it def would be a bit melancholic but with the strong weird, scary touch. Scary is good, you know lol
      And I love to add conversations with the reader. It is similar to ‘telling the story’, but still different. I like to make the reader REAL 🙂 as he is here right now lol
      But it wouldn’t be the Idaho I read then… haha

      • Conversation With The Reader is my favourite kind of book!! I can’t wait to read your novel now! 😀
        What’s your favourite book by a Russian author?
        And yes – scary is good. In fact, it can even be se … or actually, perhaps not.

      • Lol Thx, i don’t know when my novel will be done. But as soon I’ll be done with edit 2 – I’ll send it to proof-reading 🙂 & then… to the world haha
        fav book – too many, but one of them definitely-> The Raw Youth, also published as The Adolescent or An Accidental Family, is a novel by Dostoevsky, first published in 1875 🙂 it’s not famous but much better than Crime & Punishment 🙂

      • Just added The Adolescent to my To Buy list on Goodreads – thanks for that. Looking forward to you claiming your Author Profile on the same site so that I can add your book too. 🙂

  3. Oh wow, great review! This sounds really interesting though I don’t know if I have read any books where the mystery remains at the end.Definitely intrigued though.

    • The mystery remains because there’s no mystery lol and there’s no suspense too. You just can’t get what really happened, but still…you know WHAT happened and who is guilty. Just like in life 🙂

  4. Hi Ray,
    I may have to read the book, it sounds interesting.
    Love your review.

    Anthony T. Hincks

  5. Okay! Want to read now. I like the way you write about books, it reminds me of how I write about films. Except you’re a good girl, writing nice long posts, and I’m a lazy girl and do a couple of lines for a film. 😀

  6. Definitely interested, now I’ve read your post! Have to give this a go…

    • Hey 👋 I don’t know you and what u like/dislike so it is difficult to advice. What is your fav classic writer from XIX? ..
      And it is a melancholic book 🙂

      • Hey *waves* well, I read a lot of different things. Crime or fantasy, a bit of escapism, is probably my favourite in terms of genre. But I’ve been looking for something a bit darker lately, a bit different to change it up. This sounds perfect. Rather random, but certainly interesting!

      • Mmm, I’m not sure if you’ll like “Idaho”. It is not a “dark” book, not mystery: there’s no tension there…it is about life, sick man and his second wife who loved him a lot (some romantic with lots of piano lessons and songs). About prison too. But nothing dangerous or exciting. Mostly literature-classes and dreams about past. Very sad book id say, some way “depressing” with a nice end (but not so much uplifting, not really…). So be careful lol if u still would like to read it in hope it is a crime novel 🙂 😂💕

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