I know I may be late to the game here with this one considering it’s smash success last year but better late than never am I right?
I know I’m not one to typically read a memoir (unless it’s one by Jenny Lawson because she is my spirit animal) but man am I glad I picked this one up!
Tara Westover was 17 years old before she ever stepped foot in a classroom. One of six children born into a strict Mormon household in Idaho in the 80’s, her classroom was the junkyard her father scrapped from. Growing up, Tara was indoctrinated with end of days doomsday prepping. She spent countless hours with her mother canning fruit to put in their emergency bunker. Formal education was seen as nothing more than a way for the Illuminati to indoctrinate the next generation of “gentiles”. The medical establishment was a farce and all aliments from burns, cuts, strep throat, and cancer could be solved with homeopathic tinctures and realignment of the chakras, in the kitchen of her family home. Tara makes the life changing decision to apply to college and so begins her education. Tara not only learns all the things found in books she has never learned before (including all about the Holocaust), but learns about the intense dysfunction she grew up within. Tara learns who she is, and where her ideals lie in this captivating coming of age memoir.
The book was BANANAS y’all. I cannot even fathom growing up in the sort of psychotic dysfunction Tara spent the first 17 years of her life, but her memoir is written so vividly and with such thought to detail of emotion, eliciting all the senses, I could picture myself in her shoes. My heart broke for Tara, on so many different occasions as those she should have been able to trust to protect her unconditionally, time and again, broke that trust. I am honestly flabbergasted that all her siblings have survived into adulthood. The sheer dangerousness of working with her father in the scrapyard coupled with the fact that they never sought actual medical attention for extremely serious injuries - and all lived - is just astounding.
It also really put into perspective to me that our lives are a culmination of so many pivotal moments. Moments where our choices can put our lives on whole other trajectories. Sometimes we make these choices with the help and at the direction of others, but without that initial leap of faith, our lives could wind up completely different. Tara may just have easily lived out her whole life on that mountain in Idaho with a gaggle of children and no formal education. Making salves and tinctures with her mother, eventually taking over for her as midwife for the area. Instead, and through a culmination of choices, chances, and hard hard work, Tara ultimately earns her PhD from Cambridge University. It almost takes your breath away to consider all the times it could have, and should have gone differently.
Fascinating read that explores so many relevant topics ranging from mental illness, cycles of abuse, toxic masculinity and Mormonism, this is one that I would hands down recommend. In fact, I’ll probably be talking about this one in my yearly wrap up as a favorite for 2019.
Have you guys read this one? Let me know what you thought in the comments!