To say that I was shocked when reading this novel is a gross understatement. I was absolutely terrified by Tara Westover’s childhood experiences and terrified of her father and brother. This is one of the best memoirs by women I’ve read! It lives up to its hype and it is a phenomenal book everyone should read?
Or should they? There’s this other camp out there who says this book is too far fetched and that the author has grossly exaggerated.
Everyone has the right to their own opinion but I’ll just put it out there, I think this book is amazing. Even if Tara Westover has exaggerated some parts of it or her childhood memories were a bit hazy, no one can deny how incredible and unique her circumstances were. So read it with a grain of salt but be amazed at her intelligence and immense will, determination and bravery to get an education.
Tara Westover was 17 the first time she set foot in a classroom. She comes from a family of survivalists and growing up in the mountains of Idaho her family prepared constantly for the end of the world by stockpiling preserves and digging bunkers. Her father made them live off the grid and forbade them to go to hospitals despite the horrendous injuries they suffered while working in extremely unsafe conditions in the family’s scrapyard. Injuries were treated by her mother, a self-made herbalist and it is, in my opinion, by sheer luck that they survived.
Tara wanted to escape and she saw her escape happening through education. She educated herself. She taught herself enough math and grammar to be admitted to Birgham Young University and from there she went on to study at some of the best universities in the entire world, at Harvard and Cambridge.
This book is not for the fainthearted. Especially the first part, which details her childhood experiences is rife with violence. What this book does well is the portrayal of the emotional and physical abuse Tara suffered through in her childhood.
It must have taken great courage to write this book. It is interesting to see how her view of her parents change. We see the evolution from an idolizing child to a rebelling teenager to a complete shift in view and negation of what they stand for. This was I think this is a book everyone can relate to, as everyone in some form or another has to realize that parents are not gods, that they make mistakes and sometimes stand for the wrong things.
“Everything I had worked for, all my years of study, had been to purchase for myself this one privilege: to see and experience more truths than those given to me by my father, and to use those truths to construct my own mind. I had come to believe that the ability to evaluate many ideas, many histories, many points of view, was at the heart of what it means to self-create. If I yielded now, I would lose more than an argument. I would lose custody of my own mind. This was the price I was being asked to pay, I understood that now. What my father wanted to cast from me wasn’t a demon: it was me.”
I loved this book from start to finish and I highly recommend it to everyone. It is beautifully written and despite its gruesome parts it is the kind of book which is generally liked by the majority of its readers. One of the best memoirs written by women.
For other great memoirs written by women check out my review of Brave by Rose McGowan.Follow me: