Some books are read for entertainment. Others are read as facts. And every so often, you come across a book that shifts the way you see the world.
When I first set out to read Tara Westover’s book educated, I was expecting a pretty linear story about a girl who had never had a formal education suddenly being given the privilege of one. I thought it would chronicle her journey of moving from uneducated to educated. And in some ways, this book does that. But, to say that that’s what the crux of the book is about, is to ignore the struggle that Tara experienced in coming to terms with these two vastly different worlds with which she simultaneously identified.
Hearing the abuse that Tara endured in her childhood and the manipulation that was ongoing in their family home, one might assume that it would be easy to leave. However, that’s not the experience that Tara shares. That made me realize that the circumstance we grow up in is often embedded in us much deeper than we know or realize. The norms and values that our family instills in us, the way we interact with and relate to others – these things are all taught and learned. There are things that we all do (or don’t do) that other may find strange or ignorant or rude, and we see glimpses of that throughout Tara’s book. We see also how fiercely one can hold to family loyalties, and how tough it is to cleave that from one’s identity. This has encouraged me not to make assumptions, and to seek to understand rather than to judge.
This book reminds me of how powerful our minds are, and how much control it can have over the course of our lives. The biggest gift that we can give to anyone is the gift to be able to choose and think for themselves. And in doing so, to craft their own education.