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I Dream of Idaho.

It is rare that I put down a book after I have turned the last page and mourn the characters, feel a gap in my daily life because I am no longer a participant in their story, no longer journeying with them on their adventures.

It is unheard of for me to put down a book and mourn a place. Idaho is the first book I have read where I will miss the landscape as if it were a character.

Books and their doings, or undoing…as the case may be.

In Tertulia: A Bookshop Like No Other there are so many books to choose from, so many beautiful hard back and paperback editions.

‘Pick a book to review,’ the manager says.

‘Any book.’

‘Just pick!’

I spent a full hour perusing the magnificent shelves in this bookshop to find the one.

‘Any book.’

If only it were that simple.

Because books and their doings. Or undoings.

I picked Idaho and it is a work of same. It had doing and undoings within its covers. A book named after a place or is Idaho a character in the story, living and breathing?

I can’t quite put my finger on the expanse of this piece of hauntingly brilliant fiction.

‘Dark.’ That is how one other reader described it to me. (Thanks Marian)

I like dark. I can handle dark. This book is dark and light, and shades of dapple in between sunlight and moonlight, and the shine of snow and the eagerness of the coming spring. It is this and more.

The novel has won the International Dublin Literary Award and its author, Emily Ruskovich is a native of Idaho, the namesake of this project. She weaves a magnificent eerie, uncomfortable and yes, dark, tale around an incident in a forest, a family of four, chopping wood with hand crafted hatchets. They do not all make it out of the woods. And some of them, a long time later, remain, in their minds, in the constriction of dense forest.

I enjoyed this novel because of the complexities of character and place, the twists and unreliable narrative, the exposure of human nature in all its magnificent, ugly glory. This book is not for the faint hearted. It is not a neat bow-ribbon story, tied up at the end, with resolution and fuzzy feelings of happiness. This novel is raw and real.

I finished sections and had to put the novel down, exhaling slowly, overwhelmed by the force of the writing, by the force of the story the author is trying to tell us.

There is a scene in the novel where the guilty is handed down a sentence. The author writes it beautifully, the sentence and the sentencing. Life. A single word and it conveys so much. This is what the character is given in prison and on the page.


That is what Idaho is about. A no holes barred, stark and beautiful portrayal of life.

This book is not for the faint hearted but I mourned its loss at the turn of the last page. Idaho. I look forward to reading you again.

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