‘In knowing the ground was not ground at all, I hoped that I could stand on it.’ Tara Westover, ‘Educated’
- Rating: 4 stars out of 5
- Genre: Fiction
- Category: Women’s Stories, Coming of Age, Education
Book Review and summary
This is the story of a young girl transported from the harshest of circumstances to a place where she could survey it all – her life and the many misconceptions of it. Some distortions of perception in her were fed to her by circumstances and people. Others that she had to make up herself in order to survive the severe circumstances and people. But she lives to tell of the day she comes to make sense of it all. She understands life as not fully summable in neat words and paragraphs and yet she finds her peace with it.
The story navigates the life journey of Tara, her family of survivalists, and an isolated life in the Idaho mountains. Cut off from the rest of the world, there was no path to education and no escape from domestic violence. Tara reinvents her life by her love for learning. Her education takes her away from the limiting, violent, and yet fiercely loyal home of her childhood to Brigham Young University, then Harvard and eventually over oceans and continents to Cambridge. One step at a time education opens Tara’s eyes to the world and learns to see her own life with a whole new perspective.
What struck me most about this story was Tara’s strong sense of self. Despite growing up in an environment that puts the survivalist beliefs, family loyalties, and such idiosyncrasies above all else, Tara’s sense of self is strong. On several occasions, I found that she valued her impressions more than the propaganda fed to her by her family. She learned, as she grew, to take these ideas with a grain of salt. She thought about and questioned their validity. I believe this is a personality trait that let her consider and explore a world much larger and so much more varied than the one she grew up in.
It makes me wonder, how we can develop such a trait in our own lives. Surely there is more to the world than what our limited minds dwell on every day. Our micro agendas, plans, objectives, how minuscule are they in the larger scheme of things? If Tara was living in a ‘bubble’ aren’t we all? A larger bubble maybe, but still a very small fragment of the universe occupies our minds and defines our beliefs. This story inspires me to aspire to look for that, which I don’t even know exists. But by knowing it and experiencing it (the unknown) I will transcend to a different level of thinking.
Recommendation – A must-read
A beautiful story told with candor and courage. I would strongly recommend it.
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