Educated by Tara Westover was read by Susan Baker, a Reference Librarian at the Main Campus, and Meredith Lewis, the Orange County Campus Librarian.
#ReadGreatThings2018 Category: A biography, autobiography, memoir, or a fictionalized account of a real person’s life AND A book you chose for the cover [seriously, look at those layers]
Find out more about the Read Great Things Challenge here, and check out other beautiful and interesting book covers in the Main Campus library’s front window display to find your next great read.
Why did you choose to read this book?
Susan: I work with students in a community college. I have a son in elementary school. So I think about education—how does it work? What makes it good?—a lot. The combination of the title and the cool pencil graphic that is so much more if you look closely drew me to the shelf. I picked it, scanned the prologue—hmmm, this is good writing, and I want to know what happens….I was hooked.
Meredith: As usual (eye roll directed towards myself), I’d read some reviews on it and it seemed interesting– a story of not-quite-actually-home-schooled to PhD. I’m always interested in how people get from one place to another in their lives, especially in their education journeys, but this book was so much more than just that.
What did you like about it?
Susan: It is a compelling true story about a world turning on its axis, due to Westover’s determination to go beyond a world limited by her geography and culture.
Meredith: It talks a lot about those moments where you start to find your own independent self within the life you’ve lived growing up and, in this case, what happens when that self is very different from how you’ve grown up. There are some really interesting parts when the author realizes how much she doesn’t know once she’s at BYU (like what the Holocaust is…) and how those significant gaps in what we consider common knowledge impacted her and, in many cases, motivated her to work harder.
Did it remind you of any other book, or a movie?
Susan: The idea of higher education as the catalyst for moving forward despite daunting odds made me think of the 2003 Emmy nominated movie, Homeless to Harvard.
Meredith: Does anyone remember Blast from the Past? No? Seriously though, it reminded me of those stories where people live a parallel existence, yet remain isolated from the world-at-large.
Was there anything noteworthy about the book?
Susan: Lots! The quality of the prose. The view inside Mormon fundamentalist culture. How college not only opened Westover’s world but possibly saved her life.
Meredith: How family can be both a powerfully supportive and powerfully destructive force, depending upon the individual family structure. It really was really beautifully written, too.
What feeling did the book leave you with?
Susan: Just wow– inspired, exhausted, relieved!
Meredith: Well, I was glad that I’ve never have to make many of the difficult decisions that the author had to, so I guess relieved fits for me, too. I’m also in awe of how she just kept moving forward– if you need an example of grit, this book is it.
Who would you recommend the book to?
Susan: Teachers. Students. Anyone who wants to be inspired by what is possible.
Meredith: Anyone who wants a good story of perseverance and the challenges of dealing with people who you love, but who hurt you.
What would you pair this book with?
Susan: Freshly sharpened pencils on a fall day, warm cookies and cold milk. At the end of the book, break out a glass of sparkling cider to toast an amazing journey.
Meredith: A solo hike up a mountain and a breath of clean, fresh air.