Five solid gold stars to this book for its social content, writing style, readability, relevance, and emotional impact. Wow.
Often after devouring a book, I immediately want everyone around me to read it too, if only so I can then make them discuss it with me, haha. Educated by Tara Westover is no exception, but this time I have a few specific target audiences in mind.
Friends, make time to read Educated if you:
- are a feminist.
- don’t call yourself a feminist but want to understand your feminist loved ones better.
- have ever struggled with fundamentalist religion.
- appreciate your beautiful life situation (or are perhaps amazed by it) but feel you don’t deserve it, feel you don’t belong where you are.
- are a survivor of an abusive relationship (not necessarily a marriage).
- are estranged from either your parents or your children (though this could make parts of the book especially painful, it could be very healing too).
- are not estranged from family but distinctly separated from them in some important way, and it hurts.
- doubt your potential as a human being because of your life circumstances so far.
- crave a wider view of the world, of written history, of society and family dynamics than what your personal world has offered so far.
- simply enjoy lush prose and masterful storytelling.
- appreciate memoirs that span time, geography, personalities, trauma, and triumph.
- need some encouragement about the resiliency of average people and the length to which the Universe will go to assist us.
Okay. Does any of that include you? If so, please take my advice, as I took my sister Gen’s and her BFF Julia’s, and read this book. Page after page offers heartbreak, wisdom, good solid writing (even poetry), and plenty of universal truth and encouragement. Humanity stuff.
I can stand in this because I’m not trying to stand in it. The wind is just wind. You could withstand these gusts on the ground, so you can withstand them in the air. There is no difference. Except the difference you make in your head.
I’m just standing. You’re all trying to compensate, to get your bodies lower because the height scares you. But the crouching and the side stepping are not natural. You’ve made yourselves vulnerable. If you could just control your panic, this wind would be nothing.
The author is young, so her memoir only covers the earliest chapters of her life, which I hope will be long and only more fruitful. This is just her beginning. But in a little over 330 pages she manages to weave a page-turning drama and paint the emotional landscape of a life that could have continued on a very different trajectory, had fate or Love or (as she concludes) education not intervened. She views herself in a detached enough way that she can write with humility, almost too much of it, and a great deal of curiosity, just as if she is one of many human specimens worth studying. Curiosity is a vital element to good education, after all.
This is more than a coming-of-age story, so please don’t avoid reading it thinking that’s all it is. It’s as much about this one girl’s life as it is about her family, her family’s generational patterns, and their culture at large. It’s about ignorance and straight up mental illness. It asks really big questions about who writes history, what feminism could say to polygamy, how to discover self worth and exploit our potential free of labels, and so much more.
And because any true account of this much trauma and family implosion will certainly have more than one side to explore, you might read it with some skepticism. I did. The internet is brimming with skepticism about her stories. But what I found refreshing about this author is how diligently she examines herself, how brutal she is about checking her own motives and scrubbing clean her own processes. I never felt beguiled or cajoled into taking her side as I read. Even when I (incredibly) could perceive there was more to the story with her parents, I trusted her telling of the facts as she saw them, and this has led me down some healing paths in my own estrangement story. All of it is heartbreaking. All of it is beautiful, eventually.
Ok. This book deserves lots of deep conversation. I am so thankful to Gen and Julia for the push to read Educated.
And I am so happy that a few of my close friends are reading it now too, so we can roll it around together. Do you want to join the conversation? It is all so smart and beautiful and provocative.
Okay. Gotta go. Thanks for reading, friends! What else are you reading?
“First find out what you’re capable of,
then decide who you are,”