When I first started reading this book, I have to admit that I found it challenging to comprehend some paragraphs due to the use of unfamiliar words. Consequently, I often found myself taking my eyes off the pages to check the dictionary on my smartphone every few lines, which interrupted the flow of reading and was quite irritating.
However, after the first few chapters, I began to familiarize myself with most of the new words and started to enjoy the book. Tara Westover has an exceptional talent for storytelling, and her vivid writing style transports the reader to her rural Idaho home, surrounded by snowy mountains, looking at the junkyard where she, her brothers, and her father used to work every day. Moreover, her inner struggles when trying to find her own path through education while feeling like she was betraying her family were palpable.
Westover family home, Clifton, Idaho. (photo by mrsladywordsmith.com)
Since this book is a memoir, all the characters in it exist, although Tara used pseudonyms for her parents and the brother who bullied her. As a result, readers might wonder who they are in real life and their current status, just as I did. Upon googling, I found some interesting facts about the Westover family. From an outsider’s point of view, the homeschooling of the Westover family turned out to be quite successful. Three out of the seven children in the family obtained PhDs in their respective fields, despite never setting foot in a traditional school. Additionally, Tara’s mother, LaRee, has written multiple books, some on her herbalism and essential oil business, as well as one memoir defending the family against Tara’s accusations in Educated. Although these books are not as popular as Tara’s book, they do prove that LaRee has received an excellent education. However, LaRee chooses to remain an obedient wife, standing by her husband despite his obvious radical behavior patterns, which have put the family in danger many times, such as insisting on driving long distances home during the night twice, resulting in severe injuries to LaRee and one of their sons.
From my perspective, it appears that Tara’s experience might be linked to the Mormon faith, although it was not explicitly stated in the book. Nevertheless, there were many clues throughout the book, such as how women in a Mormon family are encouraged to stay at home, raise children, and support their husbands instead of going to college and finding a regular job. Moreover, women are required to be “modest” and not allowed to wear short-sleeve shirts or skirts above the knee, which is a clear example of gender discrimination against women. While there were other issues in this family, this seemed to be the root cause of Tara’s tragedy.
Here are some links that readers might find interesting after reading this book:
- Tara’s brothers Tyler and Rechard’s comments on this book
- Educating, A New Memoir by the Mother of Tara Westover
- Tyler’s wife’s comments on Westover family issues
The racial discrimination against the Hazaras in this book was deeply disturbing to me. It is disheartening to learn that one of the reasons for their discrimination by the Pashtuns is due to their physical resemblance to the Chinese people. As a Chinese person, I find it difficult to comprehend how the Afghans view themselves as superior to us.
Additionally, I was disappointed that the author did not express any condemnation of his father’s reprehensible actions, which involved betraying Ali by having a child with Ali’s wife. It is likely that he seduced or raped her, and this should be unequivocally condemned.
The Diary of a Young Girl
Reading about Anne’s fate at the hands of the Getsapo was truly heart-wrenching. One cannot help but wonder what her future could have been had she survived the war. Her talent for writing was evident in her diary, and it is not hard to imagine her becoming an established author if given the opportunity.
I found it remarkable to learn that everyone in hiding was engaged in some form of study, despite the dire circumstances they faced. Even in the midst of constant fear and uncertainty, the inhabitants of the secret annex were actively pursuing knowledge in their respective areas of interest. This speaks to the resilience of the human spirit and the power of learning and curiosity.