Writing: 4.5 Plot: 4.5 Characters: 4
Disturbing in places
A remarkably level headed tale of the “education” the author received growing up. The youngest of seven children born to an ultra strict Mormon, survivalist, anti-government, and probably bipolar man and his wife in rural Idaho, Tara Westover never went to school, never saw a doctor (even for life threatening illnesses and accidents), and was not allowed to wear a seat belt. She was called a whore if skin showed accidentally or if her father or older brothers determined she was acting in a “whorish” fashion. When she wanted a birth certificate, the family could not even agree on the day that she was born.
This memoir takes her from birth through receiving her PhD from Cambridge at the age of 27. Her PhD topic: “The Family, Morality, and Social Science in Anglo-American Cooperative Thought, 1813-1890”, including a chapter on Mormonism as a social movement. The story is gripping, both in the details of actual events and in her reflections on how to become the person she is meant to be when there are such strong voices in her head telling her about government plots, whorish behavior, and false history. Homeopathic remedies, work in a scrap metal business, Y2K scares, some physical abuse and the lies people build around themselves – all told in a matter-of-fact style that lays is out without over-emotionalizing.
Great for fans of Jeanette Walls or Jill Kerr Conway.