July Reading Recommendation

The book recommendation for July is Educated by Tara Westover.

I read Educated for book club and thoroughly appreciated it. It’s well written and engaging, but with emotionally difficult content.

Based on Tara Westover’s formative years, Educated offers a glimpse at a childhood very different from most. “I’m only seven, but I understand that it is this fact more than any other, that makes my family different: we don’t go to school.” (Westover, Prologue, pg 2). Many people would gladly skip school to avoid the homework, lectures, and sitting still. Few of us realize how much school provides us with a common language, defines our knowledge of the world around us, and exposes us to a broad variety of views and believes.

Tara spends her childhood on her parents Idaho farm, coming of age in the early 2000’s. Daily life on the farm and in the family scrap yard, however, sounds more like a throw-back to the mid 1900’s. Tara’s father dictates what the family believes about the world, and how the family functions. Key tenants of his beliefs are: the government is not to be trusted, the medical establishment is a fraud, and formal education is suspect. By the time Tara is born all of the Westover children are kept out of school and homeschooling covers only reading, writing, and some basic mathematics.

Though schooling is discouraged, two of Tara’s older brothers seek out formal education and move beyond the life on the family farm. Both encourage Tara to do the same, and at seventeen she leaves the farm to attend Brigham Young University. Her education is not limited to academics, but she also learns to think differently about everyday behaviours and social interactions. Through roommates, classmates, and new friends Tara is exposed to ways of life and beliefs very different from those she learned from her parents.

Her new found knowledge puts Tara in conflict with her parents and their beliefs. She has to make a choice between family and being true to herself. “You could all this selfhood many things. Transformation. Metamorphosis. Falsity. Betrayal. I call it an education.” (Westover, chapter 40, pg 4) Tara makes the courageous choice to trust in herself and her knowledge, over what her family was telling her was true.

If you are looking for a great read that is about courage, determination, and integrity I highly recommend Educated.

by Ines Quandel

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