Idaho by Emily Ruskovich, Penguin/Random House.
A novel of immense maturity, dealing with loss, loneliness and dementia. Wade Mitchell and wife Jenny are both Idaho “prairie people”. Gentle choir mistress Ann has been teaching Wade, a dog trainer and knife craftsman, to play the piano at the school attended by his young daughters June and May. When an inexplicable act of violence occurs – Jenny taking a hatchet to May, June disappearing into the woods – we are perplexed and in need of answers. Pleading guilty, Jenny has to serve a life sentence, and a short time after his divorce, Wade marries Ann. They head for the Mitchell family’s remote mountain home, where Wade’s early-onset dementia and his grief result in unprovoked violence to a trapped Ann. She stumbles on ghosts – a polaroid of the girls which she sweeps from under the fridge, as our characters must be robbed of their memories – in an ethereal tale that leaves much to the imagined, rather than the explained. The human capability for cruelty and the capacity for forgiveness are the book’s foundations, from an author who has such a delicate a touch, she could write on eggshells.