Educated by Tara Westover

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Hello, World.

My reading for June is going well. I have one week left and one book left on my June TBR. So, I’m hoping that because the book is a bit shorter, I’ll be able to zip through it this week. Today, however, I wanted to share my review of Educated by Tara Westover. I don’t typically reach for nonfiction and have rarely finished a memoir, but I ripped through this memoir and couldn’t stop thinking about it between reading sessions. This book highly recommended by people who read it. I first hear about this book from Ali Edwards, who shared her praise for this book on Instagram.

What appealed to me about this book was the educational journey that Westover experienced, her desire to learn, what her learning about the world meant for her relationship with her family, and how the family dynamics at play. As I said, I often have trouble getting into nonfiction. I put down Hilbilly Elegy a few months ago and haven’t picked it back up. While interesting, it wasn’t a book I yearned to keep reading. So, I was nervous this book would cause me to hit a reading snag. However, I was sucked in from pretty much the first page.

This book focuses on Westover’s childhood, which was riddled with religious fanaticism, oppression, paranoia, danger, and abuse. I was rooting for Tara throughout the whole novel, and at times wanted to shake her. I wanted to shout, “but you’re so much better than that!” or “ask for help!” and I appreciate the self-awareness this memoir has. Westover repeatedly explains that her actions were not rational and that she had an utter inability to ask for help. Honestly, this book made me feel appreciative of the incredible support system I have while seeking education and made me want to reach out to mentors who pushed me to improve and challenge myself and believe in myself, as I watched Westover gain some really strong mentors.

While some parts of the story are really hard to read (super abusive brother and delusion of her parents), I just couldn’t stop reading and rooting for Tara to overcome the terribleness of her family structure and the oppression they attempted to impose on anyone who challenged her father or older brother. Honestly, the whole time I wasn’t sure why her father was so defensive of her abusive brother. I get not wanting to face hard issues, but it seemed like his relationship with Tara was, initially, much stronger than with the brother. I found his defense of the brother a bit confusing, but it also made sense given the delusion and paranoia documented earlier in the story.

The story has a satisfying ending, and it’s so interesting to watch Westover’s personal growth. I love her writing style, and I love that she’s honest about where she is with her family relationships and where she hopes they go. I thoroughly enjoyed this read and I think it’s so beneficial to accept that we can love people but sometimes it’s better to not have them in our lives. I was so intrigued by this story from start to finish. I may or may not have entered a rabbit hole of interviews with the author on YouTube upon finishing it. Some critics say this book isn’t inspiring. I think it is insofar as accepting that it’s perfectly okay to put yourself first and pursue an education with everything you have.

I highly, highly recommend this read. I think if you want a hard but strong story, this is for you!

Truly,
Callie leigh

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June To-Be-Read (TBR) (and why there’s overlap with May)

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Hello, World.

May was not the best reading month. What I read was great, but how much I read was less than I wanted or expected. I think in the chaos of ending finals and trying to move to DC and then start working I just wasn’t in the mood to read all the time. I also, admittedly, was spending a lot of time binge-watching Riverdale, which is so addicting. So, I only got through Little Fires Everywhere and The Great Alone. Had I chosen a smaller second book I may have gotten further on my list, but I wanted to tackle the clunkier books first, so as to get them out of the way early. I don’t mean to imply they are lesser or not as good. The Great Alone was a great read (review is here), but at 430-ish pages, it’s a bit heftier than the other books. Right now I’m working through The Female Persuasion and it’s addicting. I find myself needing to read as much as possible because I love everything in it and I’m enjoying the style of writing. This is another monster book, however, at 450-ish pages. Still, I’m 100 pages in after about 2 days of reading, so hopefully, I find some good reading time soon.

Because my June TBR is more realistic than my May TBR, the list is essentially the books I didn’t get to in May. July and August will hopefully have 3-4 books each. I figure if I can get through a book a week, then it’s manageable. I want to read more and I’m loving the reading I chose for myself. Last summer I tackled a very long novel that was a slow read, so I didn’t read as many books as I would have liked. I want reading novels to be an active part of my life and so I’m trying to watch less TV and read more. I figure binge-watching shows are easier when I’m in school, so I should use the summer downtime to read rather than watch shows.

So, in case you missed my May TBR, June will consist of the leftovers:
The Female Persuasion
An American Marriage
Educated

Truly,
Callie leigh