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Educated by Tara Westover
Reviewed by a member of Wokingham’s Second Monday Book Group
This is the fascinating and often harrowing memoir of a girl who is bought up in a Mormon Fundamentalist family in Idaho. Born the youngest of seven, Tara is not allowed to go to school. Her father Gene believes that the world will end on the stroke of the millennium, he will not allow any members of his family to receive conventional medical treatment and he also believes that eating dairy products is sinful. Tara’s birth is never registered.
Life for the family is grim and they continually struggle to earn enough money from working with scrap metal to survive. Instead of receiving an education Tara is forced to work with her father and brothers in the scrapyard. One of her brothers subjects her to horrendous physical abuse which is described in horrific detail.
Eventually Tara finds the will to get herself to college where she finds huge gaps in her knowledge of the world-she has no idea what the Holocaust is and knows nothing of the two World Wars. After many trials and tribulations she graduates from Brigham Young University and is then awarded a Gates Cambridge Scholarship. However she finds that gaining an education comes with a cost as she loses her family and ultimately writing this book forms part of the healing process.
Although this book sounds like it fits into the “misery memoir” category it is very moving and would provoke much discussion at a book group meeting.
Ethan Frome by Edith Wharton.
Star rating 4/5
First person narration. Narrator finds himself in small New England town – Starkfield ( an appropriate name) for the winter. He learns about life of the mysterious Ethan Frome – a man left lame after an accident 24 years previously. Narrator hires Frome to be his driver for a week. There is a severe snow storm and the two find themselves in Frome’s home for shelter. We learn about the hard life earning a living from the land and the harsh winters.
There is some wonderfully apt description in this novel- man and landscape are interwoven:
” He (Frome) seemed a part of the mute melancholy landscape, an incarnation of its frozen woe”
Frome is very poor ” bout as bare’s a milkpan when the cat’s been round”
Wharton has a remarkable ability to involve readers’ senses and feel,the cold harshness of Frome’s pitiful life