Tara Westover has written a scathing memoir about her experience as a “home schooled” kid. The truth of it is, however, that her parents, especially her father, did everything he could to prevent her from becoming educated. She was not allowed to read anything except the Bible. If she wanted to read a math textbook, she had to hide with it or secretly study elsewhere. It was her brother, an older escapee, who encouraged her to covertly study for the entrance exam to a college which accepted home schooled kids. If it was not for him, she may very well have ended up dead, or at the least, physically and emotionally scarred or brain-damaged like one of her brothers who was continually injured, oftentimes working alongside their father in unsafe work conditions.
Memoir is an artful retelling of one’s life, with carefully selected scenes strung together to produce a narrative arc, usually on a particular theme of interest, climaxing with a pivotal moment in one’s life. While Westover’s tale does chronicle her finally leaving her abusive and manipulative home, before she does, she continues to go back, and go back, and go back, even when her life is in danger. It was upsetting as a reader; I cannot image how difficult it was to live through it. Sadly, unlike most memoirs which comfortably resolve, this one leaves the reader feeling unsettled. There is a major family rift and I was left wondering if Westover had waited long enough to tell her story; where is the redemption? Where is the reconciliation and forgiveness? Sadly, this convention of memoir is not possible in some families. She was not able to save her family, so she saves herself.
Well worth the read.