Starting in May and then through until September is my MOST favorite time to read. I don’t think this is anything exceptional or uncommon … there’s a reason why there’s a genre called “beach reads” and book authorities put out “must read” summer lists … so I’m hoping you all are feeling as excited as I am about the upcoming reading season! As I’ve stated before ad nauseum, and will state again (because I’m annoying that way), my to-be-read list is so long and large that there’s no possible way I will ever read them all. Which is terribly depressing. Maybe I’ll insist that on my tombstone I’ll have a beautiful engraving of “TBR: 0” … that seems both overly dramatic and appropriate. But, as usual, I digress. Time to focus in on this month’s Educated Book Club Discussion!
This month’s book, Educated: A Memoir by Tara Westover was a definite on my TBR list. Lots and lots of buzz on this one and I am happy to say, well worth it! I know probably a lot of you read The Glass Castle by Jeannette Walls ages ago, but I only just recently read it and worried that they would be too similar.
And, of course, they have some similarities, but they are definitely two different books. Westover’s story involves a lot more religion and a lot more abuse. I hope this doesn’t steer you away from it, because it is a truly miraculous story that both shocks and impresses you.
Educated Book Club Discussion
What were you the most shocked by? Would you even be able to pick one thing??
Tara Westover and her family (she is the youngest of seven children) grew up in Idaho, where her parents focused pretty obsessively on Mormonism. Her father pulled the children from school at a young age (Tara never even saw a school) because he was petrified the government was attempting to control them. The children had no birth certificates, nor did their parents even know the exact dates they were born. Tara and her siblings live were working for their parents (mostly her father in his junkyard) and attempting a small amount of learning from books in their basement. It is a story that is almost hard to believe.
Did you learn anything about Mormonism? Did you know much to start with?
One of the biggest themes of the book, though, is her father’s firm believe that God would heal all wounds/illnesses/injuries. They were NOT to see doctors or go to the hospital. Tara describes injury after injury, from car accidents to junkyard accidents, where someone in the family is left to recover without any medical intervention or treatments. Her mother uses herbs and oils to help, but everyone is left with lasting scars, both mentally and physically. I found some of this the hardest to read.
What are your thoughts on children being treated at home vs in a hospital?
Another big theme is her older brother’s abuse. For years and years, Tara was subject to humiliations and physical harm at the hands of her brother.
Do you feel Shawn was violent due to his upbringing or do you feel the injuries he had suffered helped essentially create the monster?
Lastly, the trajectory of her education is certainly one that is astonishing. She quite literally went from almost zero education (she did not know what the Holocaust was until she was a freshman in college) to finding secret ways to study for the ACT so that she would be able to attend college. I think this was the most fascinating piece of this memoir as you really get to see Tara’s struggle with learning and gaining knowledge and her parents’ belief that these institutions were evil.
Did her helpful professors give you hope for this world like it did me?
The struggle with her family and their beliefs comes to a head near the end of the book. It is an emotional journey for sure and you are rooting for Tara along the way, even as you understand her predicament.
Could you relate to how torn Tara was between her family and her education? Or, less specifically, how hard it can be to maintain ties with a family that has almost complete and total opposite beliefs?
Thanks for joining us for this Educated Book Club Discussion. If you haven’t read it, I highly recommend this memoir and hope you all had a chance to read it or at least put it on your TBR 🙂
Next up….The Female Persuasion by Meg Wolitzer!
From the New York Times-bestselling author of The Interestings, an electric novel not just about who we want to be with, but who we want to be.
To be admired by someone we admire – we all yearn for this: the private, electrifying pleasure of being singled out by someone of esteem. But sometimes it can also mean entry to a new kind of life, a bigger world.
Greer Kadetsky is a shy college freshman when she meets the woman she hopes will change her life. Faith Frank, dazzlingly persuasive and elegant at sixty-three, has been a central pillar of the women’s movement for decades, a figure who inspires others to influence the world. Upon hearing Faith speak for the first time, Greer- madly in love with her boyfriend, Cory, but still full of longing for an ambition that she can’t quite place- feels her inner world light up. And then, astonishingly, Faith invites Greer to make something out of that sense of purpose, leading Greer down the most exciting path of her life as it winds toward and away from her meant-to-be love story with Cory and the future she’d always imagined.
Charming and wise, knowing and witty, Meg Wolitzer delivers a novel about power and influence, ego and loyalty, womanhood and ambition. At its heart, The Female Persuasion is about the flame we all believe is flickering inside of us, waiting to be seen and fanned by the right person at the right time. It’s a story about the people who guide and the people who follow (and how those roles evolve over time), and the desire within all of us to be pulled into the light.
I have tried Meg Wolitzer before and haven’t always loved her stories, but a trusted podcaster (Annie B. Jones from From the Front Porch) felt the same way and LOVED this book. Can’t wait!!
We’re giving away a copy of The Female Persuasion to one of our readers! Enter by leaving a comment before 5/11/18 at 5:30am EST. As long as you are 18 or older and live in the continental United States, you are eligible to win!
Thanks so much to Penguin Random House for providing us with copies of Educated: A Memoir for review and giveaway in our Educated Book Club Discussion! All opinions shared are always 100% our own!