I’ve been trying to beat the rain today by getting outside in the morning, so this post is later than usual. I have no tea, but I’m enjoying a couple of treats as I try to get back into my routine.
I had a volunteer book club meeting yesterday. Our book was Educated by Tara Westover, and it was a huge success. This memoir tells of Westover's unusual upbringing in an isolated farm on the outskirts of a Mormon town in Idaho. Her parents, particularly her father, were Mormon extremists focused on preparing for the End Times, and she and her six siblings were denied proper education and professional medical care. They suffered neglect and abuse, and grew up in an environment of instability, violence and fear. At sixteen, Tara managed to pass the entrance exam and enrolled in the local Mormon college, and from there, through scholarships and grants, as well as the support of church officials and professors, she went on to receive her BA from Cambridge. She was awarded a visiting fellowship at Harvard, then she returned to Cambridge to complete her PhD. While pursuing her education, she also had to come to terms with her loyalty to family members who opposed everything she was now embracing. All the members of the book club were fascinated, shocked and horrified by her story, although a couple of us were skeptical about the accuracy of the information. I wondered at her claims to have had no education before entering college, while another member thought she might have exaggerated the degree of neglect and abuse she experienced, mainly at the hands of her father, but also by her mother and one of her older brothers. We all liked the conversational tone she used, and were left wondering how she (and her siblings!) survived. We wondered at times what was true and not true, but understood that this represented her experiences, and that others may have experienced these events differently. It was a book about the reliability of memory, of truth and experience, and of the will to survive at any cost. Westover mentions her father’s mental health issues, but we thought she herself was probably bipolar, and the other members of her family likely had mental health issues as well. At the end of the day, we saw this as the story of a young woman who was brought up in an isolated cult environment and managed to escape and make a life in the “real” world. It was an excellent book club selection that I would highly recommend to just about anyone
That’s all for today. Stay dry and keep reading!Bye for now…
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