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Importance of Being an Educated Person

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Importance Of Being An Educated Person

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All of us may be created equal, but not everyone has a fair shot at a decent childhood. Although it’s a part of our story, it isn’t always a good one. Our childhood shapes who we are are, and Tara Westover is a living proof that childhood trauma may not escape you. The stories and memories are a part of who you are. But they don’t have to define you.

Educated: A Memoir is about a family and the conflict that grew between author Tara Westover and her mother, father, and siblings. The struggles with “life” and reality. Life seems like a word that is taken advantage of. It is a gift. It should come with more good things than bad. Tara Westover’s father’s idea of life seemed warped to me. If there was ever an evil upbringing, it was Tara Westover’s childhood. In the beginning, I saw so much conflict between Tara and her father. Gene was very cruel to her. Both physically and mentally. It’s like he brainwashed his whole family. He was so obsessed with stockpiling for the end of the days. His obsession with this created another form of conflict for Tara and that was with society and the “real world” that lived beyond the mountain. They couldn’t trust anyone… both her mom and dad had no regard for safety. It was insane. I honestly couldn’t believe some of the things that she had to endure. It was so the opposite for me growing up. I had to wear a life jacket AND water wings when my mom took me to the pool. In Educated, Tara Westover’s childhood was somewhat of a horror story. The abuse and neglect that she suffered, but at the same time learned to accept. I cannot imagine not feeling safe. She was the youngest of the 7 children and watched her older siblings conform to her parents’ ideals. There was so much violence that went unnoticed. It’s hard to imagine they all just accepted this. Tara was repeatedly beaten and called a whore by her brother. There were so many ‘freak” accidents, burns and car crashes. Evilness.

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There was so much misery. Westover lived in the middle of mental illness and violence. Aren’t your parents supposed to protect you from violence? I don’t know how Tara woke up each morning not knowing what her day would bring. Would she watch her brother run down the mountain on fire while her dad drove the pickup up the mountain to put the fire out? Would her older brother drag her by the hair down the hall and shove her head in the toilet relentlessly? Even when Tara knew this wasn’t normal she couldn’t help but be loyal to her family.

The only way Tara could escape this violence was to follow one of her older brothers’ footsteps and go to college. But how would she do that if she’d never step foot in a classroom? She didn’t even have a birth certificate so how was she going to be able to go to college? She was uneducated because her dad had radical beliefs against society and because of those beliefs the family was isolated and not allowed to go to school. Westover explained that they were taught to read by reading from the Book of Morman and they were supposed to have been “home-schooled”, but instead she and her siblings just worked for her parents their whole lives. The only other book in their home was a science book. One that had big pictures and was probably meant for little kids. Tara was taught to make home remedies with her mom using essential oils and also helped delivery babies when her mom was a midwife. She and her brothers helped her dad in his scrap metal yard. She suffered from gashes and falls and never made one trip to the doctor. Only her mothers’ oils could cure her. They were “taught” how to survive, but never taught academically.

Her father liked to think of himself as the prophet of the family. I think a prophet is for the good. Not for the evil. A prophet inspires, not instills fear. A prophet teaches and heals. Her father believed he was teaching his children. Teaching them how to prepare for the end of the days, how to fend for themselves, not to trust society, and accept suffering and isolation. It was pure evil.

Tara almost uses her family’s weakness as a fuel to become educated and find a way out. She tried so hard to find a way to peel the grip of her father and family away from her. Even as she got older she felt drawn to them. To the mountain. To what she knew and had accepted for so long.

As Tara grew farther apart from her family by educating herself, by studying, she realized how naive she was. How much she really didn’t know. The Holocaust. Civil Rights Movement. She had no idea about any of the world’s history. She wasn’t even quite sure how to take care of or herself according to society. Her idea of personal hygiene was quite different from the norm. But she overcame all of that with the strength and inspiration from teachers and friends. Tara spent many years going to school educating herself. She worked so hard and eventually got a degree from Brigham Young University and her Ph.D.from Trinty College in Cambridge. She turned her fathers’ evilness into a hunger to learn. It’s like it fed her.

This book was not an easy one to read especially because my life was never like this nor will it ever be. It made me realize how easy my life truly is. People like Tara are the kind of people that I have a lot of respect for. People that make their “nothing life” into something. People that don’t follow their parents footsteps if they are a bad influence. She didn’t let her past define who she was. When she was planning her future she didn’t let her past experiences dictate it.

Tara realized that if she wanted a future she was going to have to do it by herself because her family wasn’t going to help her. She knew that what she had wasn’t going to get her to where she wanted to be in her life so she did something about it. She studied enough mathematics and grammar to get admitted to Brigham Young University. Her knowledge took her overseas and over continents to Harvard and Cambridge University. She truly is amazing.

I admire Tara immensely and I think that she is a very strong woman for publishing a book about her childhood and how she overcame all of the hate that she endured. I wonder if she knew how much of an impact her memories would make on others. I wonder if her childhood still haunts her or if it is something that she has been able to completely overcome. Does she still have any relationship with her mother or father? I wonder how her siblings feel about her writing this book that portrays so much evil. It was their childhood too. This book has opened my eyes to the fact that there are others that experience so much suffering but are able to “get it together” and make something of their life. I’m completely amazed at how she was able to overcome such adversity in her life and make something good come from something so bad.   

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