Today Public Services Librarian Kelly Clever tells us about a book she read recently-- Educated: A Memoir by Tara Westover.
|Kelly Clever with Educated: A Memoir by Tara Westover|
"Tara Westover was 'homeschooled' (more on the scare quotes in a sec) in the mountains of southeastern Idaho in a fundamentalist Mormon family. Her father was a mentally-ill survivalist who was obsessed with the coming of The End. He ruled the family with an iron fist and put his children to work salvaging scrap metal from his junkyard. Since the medical establishment was a tool of the Illuminati, injuries (including third-degree burns, concussions, broken bones, and more) were treated at home by her mother, a self-taught herbalist. The kids’ labor was more important than their education, so anything beyond learning to read and basic arithmetic was left to each child to self-direct from a handful of musty textbooks in the basement.
"Everything changed when Tara’s older brother, Tyler, the third of the seven children, taught himself enough to take the ACT and get into college. Their dad tried to stop him from going to BYU to be brainwashed by the liberal professors, but Tyler persisted. Years later, he persuaded Tara to follow in his footsteps. Going to college also got her away from the second-oldest brother, who had already broken several of her bones in violent rages to which their parents turned a blind eye. Tara was 17 when she first entered a classroom, and she had a steep learning curve as she first heard of the Holocaust and the Civil Rights Movement, realized that most people washed their hands after using the bathroom, and discovered that ibuprofen could fix an ache in minutes instead of days.
"Eventually, though the mentorship of her bishop, her roommates, and her professors, Tara won fellowships that enabled her to study in Cambridge and at Harvard; today she holds a Ph.D. in history.
"This book was incredibly difficult to read, but I implore everyone who can handle it to read it. I grew up in the religious homeschooling movement of the ‘90s; I’m three years older than Tara Westover. My family also lived in semi-isolation out in the mountains and got pretty into Y2K prep, but my parents believed strongly in education, including college (even for girls, which was unusual in those circles). They took us to the doctor and dentist regularly and were never violent or negligent. But I was always aware that there were other families out there who were much farther down the spectrum. I absolutely believe Tara, because I am all too familiar with the patterns, the family dynamics, and the mindsets that she describes."