A Memoir

Book - 2018 | First edition.
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"Tara Westover was seventeen the first time she set foot in a classroom. Born to survivalists in the mountains of Idaho, she prepared for the end of the world by stockpiling home-canned peaches and sleeping with her "head-for-the-hills bag." In the summer she stewed herbs for her mother, a midwife and healer, and in the winter she salvaged in her father's junkyard. The family was so isolated from mainstream society that there was no one to ensure the children received an education, and no one to intervene when one of Tara's older brothers became violent. As a way out, Tara began to educate herself, learning enough mathematics and grammar to be admitted to Brigham Young University. Her quest for knowledge would transform her, taking her over oceans and across continents, to Harvard and to Cambridge. Only then would she wonder if she'd traveled too far, if there was still a way home. With the acute insight that distinguishes all great writers, Tara Westover has crafted a universal coming-of-age story that gets to the heart of what an education offers: the perspective to see one's life through new eyes, and the will to change it."--Provided by publisher.
Publisher: New York : Random House, [2018]
Edition: First edition.
ISBN: 9780399590504
Characteristics: xv, 334 pages ; 25 cm


From Library Staff

Nonfiction & Biography - Advanced to Round 2

"It’s an engrossing read, a fresh perspective on the power of an education, and it’s also a testament to the way grit and resilience can shape our lives. "

From the critics

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May 07, 2019

Wow! Tara and her siblings have lived incredible lives. I am so glad she wrote this book. It is very inspirational and encouraging as far as how much a person can overcome. I listened to the audiobook of this. Some parts were very hard to listen to, and I can't imagine what they were like to live through. One of my favorite parts of this book was Tara talking about how she convinced herself her memories were fabricated at one point in her life. The mind is a very powerful thing. I would definitely recommend this book. I hope this book helps people to be more patient, kind, and understanding to people who were not raised the same as them. I can imagine myself reacting poorly to some of the behaviors or questions Tara had and hopefully after reading this book, if placed in those situations, I will not.

JCLHeatherC May 02, 2019

Toxicity is toxicity even when it comes from your family. The blatant disregard for the well being and education of their 7 children and not to mention the utter psychopath living in their midst made this book a tough read. Her family turned to gaslighting her instead of dealing with a son who had anger issues (to put it mildly) and the fact that she put up with so much even after she 'got away' is hard to swallow.

May 01, 2019

Wow. Normally I start these recaps with a little spiel about how I don't remember how I found out about this book (which is still the case in this instance, although I'd have to imagine it came to me from all of the best seller lists I've seen), but this one I had to start with a single word. I wasn't sure what this book was about when I grabbed it, but everyone who saw I was reading it shared similar sentiments - 'you will love it'. Although novels are normally full of drama and keep your attention from beginning to end, memoirs tend to grab at my heartstrings and draw me fully into the story. This memoir is written by a daughter of parents who raised their children in a cycle of paranoia, abuse and fear. Even though the family was part of the Mormon faith, this is not a book bashing the religion or even those who are "doomsday prep-ers". This is a book about abuse and how both the abusers and the abused warp reality to survive. Some of the memories will make you shake your head, some will make you want to scream and some will bring tears to your eyes. Tara's story is one filled with terror, violence and, eventually, hope. Reading about Tara's life reminded me of the quote "Be kind. Everyone is fighting a battle you know nothing about.". It takes courage and strength to be able to tell our stories, and I am thankful Tara has been willing to share hers. I would give it a 9 out of 10.

Apr 29, 2019

an amazing book, as well as horrifying, tragic, triumphant.......... how many other adjectives are needed?? I admire her writing style immensely. Her grammar is, of course, impeccable, but she also manages to inject warmth as well as love, terror and so many other emotions while still keeping the whole narrative in a very crisp format.

Apr 26, 2019

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Wow! Some people should NOT procreate and some should definitely not be parents. I was shaking my head much of the time by the actions of 'Dad' and 'Shawn' and happy Tara was able to get away from the Idaho mountain of her birth.

Westover is not the first person to escape from her family or their way of life. In fact, I couldn't help but imagine a conversation with her and three other authors who left a profound feeling in my head when finishing their stories . . . Jeannette Walls 'The Glass Castle'; Sarah Smarsh 'Heartland'; and J.D. Vance 'Hillbilly Elegy.' What a remarkable documentary that would be!

ArapahoeAnnaL Apr 16, 2019

Fabulously well written; so gripping it reads like fiction. In a class with other memoirs by women who survived life off the grid, reckless (at times deluded) parents, and haphazard education, such as "Don't Let's Go to the Dogs Tonight" by Alexandra Fuller and "The Glass Castle" by Jeannette Walls.

Apr 16, 2019

Once again, a poignant reflection on the systemic effects of mental illness-As Tara explores her tumultuous relationship with her parents and siblings, she provides insights and understanding on the legacy of being the child of truly dysfunctional parents cased in a fundamentalist ideology that is woven into their illness as justification for their behaviors. That she and 2 other siblings escape the hold, is a process that I've contemplated: What makes someone able to transcend the programmed path? I have yet to find the answer-if you have an insight, let me know

Apr 13, 2019

I liked how she was not reaching for sympathy in her story from the readers but expressing the truth about a family that is religiously harsh, considered a 'weird' family, physically violent & morally conflicting and yet she finds an awakening to different kinds of truth and what is mental illness. She is a spiritual warrior bringing the inspiration to take courage to follow one's path to make changes and take some risks.

Apr 11, 2019

When reading this book I was often so disgusted with this abusive family and the lack of courage to stand up to the abuser I would close the book and walk away. What mother allows an older brother to drag a young girl through the house by her hair and push her face into the toilet? Who would allow a 10 year old to work in a junk yard while her father, who should be protecting her, throws steel towards the bin where she is told to work, and the child has to duck to avoid being hit? None of the siblings had each other's back!
How can a person possibly pass exams to enter college when they have absolutely no primary and secondary education? Her reading consisted of only the bible.
I found many things hard to believe.
These are Tara Westover's memories, and I congratulate her on her success. She is truly amazing.

Apr 10, 2019

My overall impression was how amazing this woman's life has been. She showed amazing courage in the face of horrible cruelty and abuse by both her Father, Brother and even Mother who turned her back on her so many times. She overcame immense obstacles to become educated and yet her education certainly began the moment she was born on the true meaning of love. The domestic violence in this family in no way showed any importance to their faith. In fact, it was the complete opposite. In truth, it is a wonder she did not die. An amazing story of overcoming the chains of guilt and compliance to everything wrong in her life.

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Feb 18, 2019

"Dad and his mother got along like two cats with their tails tied together. They could talk for a week and not agree about anything, but they were tethered by their devotion to the mountain."

Jan 08, 2019

“You are not fool’s gold, shining only under a particular light. Whomever you become, whatever you make yourself into, that is who you always were.”

Jan 08, 2019

“My life was narrated for me by others. Their voices were forceful, emphatic, absolute. It had never occurred to me that my voice might be as strong as theirs.”

Jan 08, 2019

“Emancipate yourselves from mental slavery
None but ourselves can free our minds” — Bob Marley
p. 257

Dec 17, 2018

I was able to tell myself that it didn't affect me, that he didn't affect me, because nothing affected me....I had misunderstood the vital truth: that it's not affecting me, that was its effect.

ArapahoeMaryA Oct 23, 2018

My life was narrated for me by others. Their voices were forceful, emphatic, absolute. It had never occurred to me that my voice might be as strong as theirs.

DBRL_ReginaF Mar 14, 2018

“You can love someone and still choose to say goodbye to them,” she says now. “You can miss a person every day, and still be glad that they are no longer in your life.”


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Mar 23, 2019

pink_dolphin_3025 thinks this title is suitable for 7 years and over


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