by Tara Westover

The daughter of survivalists, who is kept out of school, educates herself enough to leave home for university.

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  • @HaleyJaneComic Ummmm. Riiiiight. I suggest you grab a book and educated your self. Iā€™m guessing you the percentageā€¦
  • @tjseher @Blaney Book learning is the beginning of knowledge. Wisdom is knowing what to do with that knowledge. I'vā€¦
  • I painted "Highly-educated Jeff "Comic Book Guy" Albertson" after reading @KateUpton's latest tweets with intelligeā€¦
  • Peter Lunsford, a lonely, book-loving, self-educated and self-destructive salesman, has an abrupt and radical changā€¦
  • I'm patiently anticipating the #Killmonger book by. @bryanedwardhill & @juaneferreyra. I know folks see me rantingā€¦
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    What people are saying on Amazon (sample)

    • I am finding it difficult to put into words how much I loved this memoir. I chose it due to an interest in the question of what shapes a person and makes us who we are. Not only does this book delve into this question, but so much more. It examines the relationship between what we are born into, what we are taught, what we want to be, and what we ultimately become. Tara had almost every odd against her yet she shattered the mold and boundaries and charted her own path. This is a story of education, religion, love, resilience, growth, but more than anything it is a story about female strength and the need to always follow your heart.The good: I still have a difficult time believing this story is true. It has every element of a good novel but means that much more coming from her own voice recounting her experiences and personal memories. You become attached to the characters, the writing is great, and this is a story that stayed with me and I found myself thinking about it when I was working, running, lying in bed, and even after I completed it. It makes you think and question, and it made me so appreciative for my education and the environment I grew up in.The bad: not much to say here other than there are some heavy topics that are quite disturbing at times. This isn't "bad" but something to be aware of; this is not the lightest of reads. Be prepared to think and seriously question what education means and the ways that people across the USA learn and grow up. I also seriously wonder about what happened to some of the family, especially "Shawn."Something this made me realize- I often wonder about the point of a liberal arts education, especially when other countries allow students to go straight to a specialty such as a doctorate without completing college- ie. is the extra time really worth it . I went to a small liberal arts school and took many courses that taught me "cocktail party knowledge." I often questioned the importance of these even though I loved every class I took (especially literature and german studies and I ultimately became a veterinarian so these had little bearing on my ultimate career). This novel made me realize that education is a way of seeing the world and it comes in many forms. It teaches us to question things and continuously push ourselves beyond our comfort zone. I cannot recommend this memoir highly enough. 10/10
    • I finished this powerful, tender but also deeply disturbing memoir yesterday and I'm still thinking about it. At first I was astounded to see that Tyler Westover, the brother who was so instrumental in his sister's liberation, had written a review here that was somewhat critical of the book, questioning the accuracy of some of his sister's memories, and clearly wanting to defend his family's fundamental decency. But then I wasn't surprised at all given that the author herself does the same thing throughout the book, even acknowledging in a postscript the challenges inherent in trying to accurately recall events that occurred years in the past. No one doubts that three people can witness the same event and twenty years later give differing accounts of it. Notably, her brother takes no issue with the most horrifying aspects of the childhood that his sister exposes. There are laws against that sort of thing for a reason. It's disturbing to say the least that their brother "Shaun" is still at large when, even if the author's memory is only ten percent accurate, he should be behind bars.
    • This is an absolutely terrible story, depressing to the end. However, it is compelling, to the point that I stayed up late to finish it. I really can't say whether I would recommend this book or not. At some point I hated every single person in it, including, at times, Tara. The cycle of abuse and ignorance is just so frustrating. Tara's pathological resistance to any sort of help or kindness is somewhat understandable, but still made me want to scream! Reading the book almost felt abusive in a way, although certainly not on the level of abuse inflicted by Shawn or her parents.The writing quality is all over the place; some parts are masterful and others are creaky and distracting. Tara describes things as "crisp" at an exponential rate. By the last few chapters, everything is "crisp," from bed linens to entire towns. I'm fascinated that this got past her editors. It's such an ugly word to begin with, and then to be hit with it repeatedly, I just don't see how no one noticed (or worse, noticed and decided to keep them all!).There are major conceptual inconsistencies in this work. Some parts of Tara's story are described in nearly obsessive detail, while pivotal moments are glossed over. She spends pages and pages on her "whore" complex, terrified to even hold a boy's hand, and then the next thing we hear, she's shacking up with her boyfriend all over Europe and the Middle East, without the slightest acknowledgement of what a huge turnabout this is. She ruminates at length over her amateur (though probably correct) diagnosis of her father as bipolar, but barely touches on her own mental health crisis, just describing it as "falling apart" and binge-watching Buffy the Vampire Slayer. If we're going to make armchair diagnoses, I'm calling PTSD for Tara at the very least, and probably some Bipolar II or GAD as well. While in general, people don't owe the public an explanation of their mental state, if you're going to write a very raw and very specific memoir, you can't just skip that part and expect no one to notice.There's also a strange distance in her relationships with anyone who *didn't* abuse her. I suppose this is typical of an abuse survivor, but it's unsettling nonetheless. Tara seems unable to explicitly acknowledge the kindness and sensitivity with which so many "outside" people treated her. They're there, she describes their actions, but there's a void where I would expect to read gratefulness or even fondness. In particular, the dance teacher who discreetly accommodated her need for a modest costume, the ward bishop who tried so hard and so many times to help her, and the roommate who quietly taught Tara how to act normal -- they're all mentioned, and I suppose that is meant to be thanks enough, but it almost seems like she resents their generosity. I'm also confused about her omission of Luke in the credits. What did he do wrong? She seemed to be on good terms with him when is last briefly mentioned, but apparently only siblings with PhDs make it to the Acknowledgements.This is a powerful and affecting story; it really couldn't *not* be. However, I wonder what it would be like if Tara had waited another 10-20 years to write it. She's no doubt an intelligent (and, yes, educated) woman, but there's a dearth of maturity and sensitivity in this story that is not surprising, given what her family put her through, yet it taints the story all the same.I'm very torn on this book. I did not find it inspiring and will not read it again, but I'm not going to say it's bad or that no one should read it all. It's just grueling and stressful. Maybe don't read it if you're already having a tough time in your own life. I finished it a week ago and took some time to let it settle in my mind before writing a review, but I'm still on the fence. Maybe I should've waited another 10-20 years to review it.
    • As a cousin of the family, I have many memories playing in the scrap yard as a kid. Playing with glass, wires, and every sharp object known to man. Dispite all the little injuries, I loved it, however, Safety wasn't a high priority at that time. So my kids will never be given that opportunity. I was also very jealous that at school time we got to hang out in others rooms to do what we were up for until (the real work) came a calling. Blow torches and small fires always won the day.
    • I didn't set out to read this memoir at one sitting, ordering just the standard sample to be sent to my tablet...but after reading just that small sample, I immediately clicked on the "give me the whole chalupa button" so I could continue reading this absorbing & introspective memoir...the author never cuts herself any slack, just writing truthfully about how unprepared she was having endured the abuse from her family which had dominated her entire life before education brought her into adapting into the modern life the rest of us experience.Jarring at times when the reality of her experiences can overwhelm one when reading this memoir, but by never resorting to asking for mercy regarding her actions & life, you get the true sense of her being trapped by being raised in a mean spirited world that featured deprivation as its main commodity, reflecting into her coarsely made aspects of life. Between a domineering father, a beaten down mother and an abusive brother, she really had no chance of ending up in the life that she successfully fought for against the tides of family ties, religion, & society that had bound her into a life of servitude & misogyny. Her escape from it is almost anti-climatic in a matter of fact way, the abuse of everyday life for her was in itself the drama that holds the reader in suspense... Just as Mary Karr's "The Liar's Club" lets you see the inside of abuse young females sometimes are exposed to and have to take because of familial bonds and their lack of physical power. This alone leaves one wondering what happened afterwards. And like" The Liar's Club", it has the air of disbelief this couldn't actually be happening, or better yet, OMG, this actually happened! Its good to see someone make it thru this trap of abuse & misogyny, but at the same time, Ms. Westover lets you also see the potential traps that lie ahead as she escapes into a world she has no basis of experience in which to maybe to be told in the future in another book with a different POV...for that matter, like Karr's "Cherry"or "Lit"...I will definitely look forward to see what Ms. Westover writes next, this book will be re-read several times in the future, each time I am sure I will find more aspects of being a male that I might be best to correct...or better yet, maybe to nurture. My wife and her daughter, my stepdaughter, say I am doing fine as a male head of household, but it takes memoirs like this to give me the insight & desire into making myself into a better person so I can be thought of in a positive manner and to be loved because I did the right things for the entire family; me, my wife, my stepdaughter & stepson...its thru the pain women like Ms Westover & Ms Karr have suffered & now write about, that one sees how much better any man can become just by trying. I would never want my extended family to think of me in the ways Ms. Westover writes about her male familial people, I would want for myself to be thought of as a good man who held up his end of the bargain of family. Its by understanding the faults of men like Ms. Westover's stepdad and brother held onto in their world that I can then find my way into just by being a better man to my it and see if it works in this same manner for