I’m certainly not the first person to be recommending Tara Westover’s Educated to you. But if all the shooting star worth praise hasn’t convinced you yet, let me try and tell you why you should be reading this memoir.
It opens with a gorgeous description of rural Idaho, the Indian Princess mountain as it’s rugged backdrop, into the home of one family at odds with the rest of the world. Tara Westover was born in 1986 to survivalist Mormon parents without any trace of documentation to account for/or register her birth. She was raised on a belief system that instilled extreme paranoia of the Government, the existence of cultish Illuminati that controls anyone who doesn’t follow the religious doctrine with utmost fervour, the end of days right around the corner and an extreme mistrust for any modern medicine.
Her mother was a herbal woman who practised midwifery, energy cures and such and her father maintained a scrap junkyard that his children laboured in with no kind of protection or safety measure. The number of critical and horrifying accidents that appear in this novel bring bile to your mouth, and its an unimaginable feat that she’s survived through all that turmoil.
Tara’s story, gripping, harrowing and utterly remarkable in every right, shines even more because of the unsparing clarity with which she reflects back on her own life. Ultimately those who wronged her are still those who loved her, in their own painfully, twisted way. And that acute perceptiveness in attempting to understand her family, by understanding herself and the world around her, by educating herself, is the beating heart of this memoir.
It’s the story of one woman’s journey to becoming aware and in control of her life, against all odds. It’s the story of surviving a horribly dysfunctional family and yet reconciling with the fact that they are still family. It’s a story of defiance, of grappling with extremes, of renouncing one world to fit in another. It’s simply a brilliant, brilliant memoir.