Saturday, June 1, 2019

Educated -- A Memoir

A friend recommended this book so enthusiastically that I purchased it at once. Then I saw a discussion about it on FB and mentioned that I'd just gotten it. 

"Well," said someone, "don't start it unless you have a lot of free time. It's unputdownable."

That proved to be the case as I read late into the night.

Westover's unusual upbringing in Idaho, in a very conservative, survivalist, anti-government, anti-traditional medicine, anti-school, Mormon family and her burning desire to be educated that led eventually to Oxford and Harvard are two parts of this compelling narrative.  

But the overarching story is Westover's learning about herself  -- and realizing that the abusive treatment one of her brothers doles out is, indeed, abuse. Abuse that her parents have overlooked and denied. Her coming to terms with this and her family's mix of reactions to her complaints about the abusive brother kept me going into the wee hours.

And the next day, I went online to find out more. Evidently the parents have responded to the book with a lawyer's statement that the book should be taken 'with a grain of salt.'

And such is the nature of gas-lighting that I found myself wondering briefly if it should.

It's a fascinating read. And there's a rather interesting secondary story -- that of Westover's mother who, in the beginning of the book is an amateur herbalist, concoct-er of homeopathic remedies, and reluctant midwife, completely subservient to her husband. By the end of the book, she has defied her husband in many  ways (all but the most important one of siding with her daughter, saved his life, and built a thriving and lucrative herbal business that now employs all of the family except for Tara and the few family members who side with her.

As I was warned -- don't pick up this book unless you have a free block of time ahead. 


KarenB said...

It was a fascinating book, enthralling and horrifying. I listened to it as an audio book and kept exclaiming "how are you not dead!" through the first half.

I discussed it recently with a Mormon friend of mine who told me she read it in two different book groups - one a Mormon group and one a group thru her work with the foster care system. She said the Mormon group knew that that the religion espoused by the parents was not Mormonism in spite of what they called it, but that she found herself defending her religion in the second group. Every religion has its outliers.

Barbara Rogers said...

Oh my goodness, that's a great sounding book. Thanks for the recommendation. Yep, I'll choose a block of time when I can read it.

NCmountainwoman said...

I did read and thoroughly enjoyed this book. That said, I was amazed at how many various people and groups listed it among the top five (often among the top three) books of 2018. It was an interesting story well told. It was a wonderful success story and a good insight into how some of our doomsday neighbors live. But for me it simply did not measure up to the hype. I had no trouble putting it down for a spell, but it is a book I can easily recommend.

Vicki Lane said...

NCMountainwoman -- I agree. I don't see it as one of the best books of the year. It was more like the wreck on the highway everyone can't help looking at. I read it fast because I wanted to know what happened. I don't imagine, however, that I'll read it again. And for me, that's the test of a really good book.

Bernie said...

Sounds fascinating, it’s on my list. Thank you for the recommendation. xx