In an attempt at self-development and to make my commute to work interesting, I subscribed to Audible where I can listen to a good book rather than the jibber jabber on radio. It was truly an eye opener one morning when I could name almost all the celebrity kids from a radio quiz. I wondered what to do with this newfound talent of mine. With no H1B jobs available for this particular specialization, I dived head first into self-development.
Scrolling through the book recommendations, I stumbled upon a memoir about a girl who, albeit lacking proper education, went on to achieve a master’s degree and a PhD from the prestigious Cambridge University. ‘Educated’ by Tara Westover – a New York Times Best Seller – takes us through the unusual lives of a family, literally crippled by faith and tradition.
Tara is the youngest child in a Mormon family from Idaho. Her father’s extreme faith in the Lord and skepticism of all things government has moulded the family ideology. As per him, “the Lord shall provide” and “a woman’s place is in the kitchen”. You get the idea.
Her father went to great lengths to keep his children out of school, employing them at his junkyard and subjecting them to extreme dangerous conditions operating heavy machinery. As a result, accidents were inevitable at their household, and by accidents I don’t mean the occasional skin-deep cuts or elbow scrapes. These were near-death, life-altering accidents which they survived with nothing but their mother’s herbal treatment.
At a very early age, Tara has been through so much more than an average child her age. From being slammed a whore for once applying lip gloss to being dragged through an asphalt parking lot, it was not easy reading her plight. There are also some gruesome and cringeworthy details of domestic violence that were inflicted on her by her brother, which she endured laughing maniacally so as to not give her brother the pleasure of her sorry sight.
Her initial foray into the outside world shows how naive and unworldly she is, cooped up in the world her father had senselessly confined her to. It is commendable how she schooled herself against all odds and made her way to Cambridge University, earning a coveted scholarship in the process.
The book goes on to show how her family and past still tortured her, and how she lost herself for a whole year dwelling in self-doubt and self-loathe. In spite of it all, there are some moments where she shows the importance of family and how love shines through even the toughest spirits.
All in all, a good read. It sheds light on the diversity of mankind, of the different ways humans can either choose to evolve or devolve. Oh, and did I mention Tara was born in 1986? Yes, these are not the events of a bygone era but what happened to a girl growing up in the recent past. And I thought I had it tough growing up!