A new favorite, or perhaps life changing? I don’t quite know how to define this book that I recently finished reading. I am not doing a book review here, but just nudging people to pick this one up next, specially if you need some solid inspiration and motivation. The strongest emotion that comes screaming out, is that I feverishly wish this was a dystopian fiction and not an absolute reality of the writer’s life. Tara Westover has created a masterpiece, which unfortunately is the true story about her life. ‘Educated’. A monumental memoir.
It’s a very difficult book to read and I went through a varied range of emotions which made it even harder. I wanted to protect the little girl, rescue her away from the path she was put on. I wanted to nudge away the young woman from her belief of shame and worthlessness. I desired to take her on a real coffee date or to a library where we could sit and discuss the history of Mormonism, ethics, mental disorders, human rights, European history together. I wanted to learn from her raw intelligence. What that child went through is unthinkable, being taught to hoard for ‘The End of the World’, being shoved around by her bipolar father, a mother who was a doormat and the extreme physical abuse by her brother, and then being told that it was her fault.
I feel sheltered and protected. For every little fight about not wanting to wear what my mom picked out, to not leaving my shoes in the hallway, I want to hug them tight and tell them that I love them beyond the Universe. From reading about a childhood like Tara’s(she still dilutes it in interviews, out of family love and loyalty), I feel beyond blessed to have been able to have mine where the memories are sweet and sadness is far in between.
I googled her and listened to some of her interviews. She has been featured in magazines. This girl went from never going to school, to Cambridge and Harvard. She was a raw learner, completely unexposed. She took it and molded herself to go to these institutions with all the respect she deserved and more. The biggest success was, her being able to defeat her thoughts(passed down as concrete sayings by her father), shame and self-humiliation. She learned to ask for help. She learned to be okay with being a woman and to have dreams beyond the kitchen. She overcame. She learnt acceptance. When she says, it is possible to love someone and miss them, and also be glad that they are not a part of their life, I believe her.
Yet, there are two sides or ‘duality’ to her that I cannot shake off. The one from her book, and the other from her interviews. Although, I do find it okay to accept because that’s human nature.
When I researched her, I researched her families and their real names too. I have faces to give these characters now. And I shudder. The brother, I saw his Facebook page, gave me chills down my spine. Somehow not unpredictably, his Facebook is full of political and ideological support for the person who leads this powerful country. There is pure venom and loathing in the words he chooses, to side with him and the gun lobby among others. The men wear lifetime-member NRA caps. I don’t feel surprised. Her family has chosen to cut her off because she refused to forgive him post ‘Atonement’ and they have refused to seek any help for his disorders, instead, accusing her of lying. Unfortunately this is the truth for a huge population. She is considered a cancer that will tear the family apart, not the brother who used to maul his sisters and girlfriends like a vicious animal. The family is so brainwashed and gaslighted by the Dad, that they are discounting her memories and have an attorney. I have no words.
This book has given me hope and a lot more. I want to leave here some powerful quotes that I took away and that will remind me to keep moving. Hope it inspires you too.
Emancipate yourself from mental slavery
None but ourselves can free our minds-Bob Marley, quoted in Educated by Tara Westover
I carried the books to my room and read through the night. I loved the fiery pages of Mary Wollstonecraft, but there was a single line written by John Stuart Mill that, when I read it, moved the world: “It is a subject on which nothing final can be known.” The subject Mill had in mind was the nature of women. Mill claimed that women have been coaxed, cajoled, shoved and squashed into a series of feminine contortions for so many centuries, that it is now quite impossible to define their natural abilities or aspirations.-Educated by Tara Westover
Blood rushed to my brain; I felt an animating surge of adrenaline, of possibility, of a frontier being pushed outward. Of the nature of women, nothing final can be known. Never had I found such comfort in a void, in the black absence of knowledge. It seemed to say: whatever you are, you are woman.
The decisions I made after that moment were not the ones she should have made. They were the choices of a changed person, a new self. You could call this selfhood many things. Transformation. Metamorphosis. Falsity. Betrayal. I call it an education.-Educated by Tara Westover