#AtoZChallenge and Educated – A Book Review
SPOILER ALERT!!! This review has some spoilers, but it could also encourage you to want to read the book, so...
you have been warned.
Educated: A Memoir by Tara Westover
First published by Random House in 2018
Won several acclaims and awards
Much talked about for its controversial themes and messages. Below is my review of it.
Tara Westover grew up in rural Idaho in the shadow of a mountain she lovingly refers to as the Princess. Raised by her survivalist father, Tara grows up sheltered from mainstream society. When she finally sets foot in a classroom at age seventeen, she feels like she'll never belong. Despite her misgivings, Tara passes the ACT without any formal schooling, and spends the next decade proving to the academic world (and to herself) that she not only belongs but can thrive. In the process, she identifies and roots out her inner demons in order to redefine herself and escape the violence of her past.
This book was very hard for me to read. It has three parts, and the first one was particularly difficult. I don't want to minimize the powerful writing of Tara's memoir. In vivid and lyrical prose, Tara takes the reader down her memory lane, helping us see the mountain, knowing her love for home, and intimately understanding her struggle to find herself outside it. The setting, pacing and imagery is spot on. I'm not at all surprise at its well-deserved acclaim. What made it hard for me was the labels she had been taught to use to identify her upbringing – “Homeschool” and “Mormon” - because those are the same labels I use to identify mine.
And this book was NOT a mirror for me.
Mirrors and Windows
Books written by marginalized voices are often described in terms of “mirrors” and “windows”. The idea is that the book serves as mirror for those who are similarly marginalized and as a window for everyone else. For example, Not Quite Snow White (one of my all-time favorite picture books) is sometimes called a mirror for POC who for so long have not seen themselves in picture books.
But here's the secret
Everyone on this planet has felt marginalized at least once in their life.
If you haven't, just wait. At some point, you will.
I felt it when I wasn't allowed to wear a gorgeous wedding dress in a church youth multi-cultural fashion show. I felt it when I couldn't apply for grants or scholarships, even though I was the valedictorian of my school (I entered public school at age 14). I've felt it many times before and after that – opportunities reserved for other people because of the color of their skin. And I'm the wrong color.
When I read Not Quite Snow White, I saw a mirror in that book. Watching Tameika's journey was like watching my child self all over again.
But I'm not one for sob stories, and it sounds like Tara Westover isn't one for that either. She simply wrote her story. The story only she could tell.*
*Even members of her own family tell a different story in their own perspective.
Lessons from Educated
While I didn't enjoy reading Educated, I'm glad I read it. It taught me some things:
What bugs me about this book
What bugs me about this book is that someone might hear of my home schooling experience. They might also hear that I grew up deep in the Mormon culture in a small rural town. And if that someone has read Educated, they could get the wrong idea about my background. It doesn't help that Tara and I are pretty close in age, so the world events she remembers are also in my living memory.
But what bothers me more is that I may not be able to change anybody's mind about my background. After all, Tara is still healing from her wounds, and some of her family were still in denial even at the end of the book. Who's to say I'm not just brainwashed?
Maybe I am brainwashed. But if I am, wouldn't Educated feel more like a mirror than Not Quite Snow White? Wouldn't I recognize the Mormon culture and home schooling experience reflected in my own life?
My hope is that now that I've read Educated, I will be more open minded about others' backgrounds. So when someone says, “Yes, but that's not me” I'll believe it.
And that's why I'm glad I read the book.
This post is part of the A to Z Blogging Challenge. Each day in April (except Sundays) bloggers post a new post relating to a letter of the alphabet. You are on Letter M in my 2021 collection.
Images and Books
Each image is linked to the url where I got it or created it, except the title image which is linked to my blog. Many of the images, including the title images, in my blog are created with Canva.com. The M badge is copied from the A to Z blogging Challenge website.
What about you? Have you ever read a book you didn't like but were glad you read? Let me know in the comments!
I heard a second grader being taught about “Whole Body Listening” in school. It's the idea that you should use your entire body to listen. This includes:*
One of the challenges writers might run into is having characters that sound too old or too young. Here's one trick that might help.
Both of these words basically mean “WOW!”
So what's the diff?
OK, Brush, it's just me and you. If you are nice to me, then I'll be nice to-
When you're talking books, often these two genres get smashed together.
“Oh, don't you love my Fantasy/SciFi?”
OK, while some books are both genres, it's more of a spectrum than a category.
This post is part of the A to Z Blogging Challenge. Each day in April (except Sundays) bloggers post a new post relating to a letter of the alphabet. You are on Letter E in my 2021 collection.
Today, I'm talking about English People VS Math People. Being both, I consider myself qualified.
In a World where science was synonymous with scripture, lived a man who was brilliant.
His name was Darwin.
If you write, you need someone to critique your work - unless you are so brilliant that you can write one perfect draft, publish and sell it with no further feedback. If you are that person, you don't need this post. For everybody else...
I think most books are better than the movie. But there are exceptions...
OK, Folks, here we are
First day of the A-Z Blogging Challenge. We've lined up a whole alphabet of VS for you here on this blog, and we're ready to start, so
Tada! I've joined the Party this year!
I have a THEME!
(But I came up with it late, so don't feel bad for not knowing it)
I figured this was a fitting title for this month's #IWSG post.
On several levels.
The trouble with art notes is...
if you write picture books, you probably need them.
This month's (optional) question reminds me of one of my favorite picture books of all time.
Just came across an important post on Sharon E. Cathcart's blog. I join her plea - don't do this!
Please, people, time is valuable!
Happy New Year!
2021 has me reassessing and rethinking
what I really want from my work.
Whether you visit from
ISWG or Storystorm crowds,
Whether you are long time reader
or new to my blog,
I hope this post will inspire you to envision what you really want to write.
When you put your mind to it,
You can do anything.
We often hear charities and others talk about “deserving people”, but what does that really mean?
Giving stems from a motivation of gratitude.
When YOU are Grateful for having more than you need,
You can show that gratitude by giving to others.
But what about those who don't have a lot,
and still give?
In these trying times,
I am grateful because...
If you want a client who
will sit back and wait for
you to do all the work
selling and marketing my book,
I’m not your writer.
In this crazy year 2020 writers, editors, and agents are needing to change tactics. But here's one temping shortcut a writer should never take.
I write about, with, for, and around kids all day. (Well, maybe I do the dishes too. Sometimes.)