Updated: Jan 26
"I'm only crying from the pain, I told myself. From the pain in my wrist. Not from anything else." - Tara Westover
I had a difficult time writing a review for this book. I wanted to share my experiences like Tara but that was difficult. Even though I understand that all reviews are subjective, topic related to my family has always been a sensitive topic for me.
So I thought about writing an objective review; just to talk about the author and her background. But that defeats the purpose of me writing this review. You can just read the cover of the book to obtain that information.
To give a little brief overview of Tara Westover, and what this book is about: Tara Westover is a historian who earned her Ph.D. from Cambridge University in the United Kingdom in 2014. She came from a family that didn't believe in formal education, hospital, and government. Living in the mountains, she was consequently "homeschooled" until she was 17. After teaching herself enough mathematics and grammar, she was able to get admission to Brigham Young University. After completing her undergrad, she continued on with her education at Cambridge University obtaining the Gates Cambridge Scholarship. In 2010 she was a visiting fellow at Harvard University then she returned back to Cambridge University to obtain her Ph.D.
But what made this book so special wasn't really her accomplishments. It was the words she used to describe her experience. Her emotions. Her vulnerability. And succumbing to her frailty and her limitations. Finally understanding how much courage and bravery are required to accept these emotions.
Just like Tara, I did not come from a "normal" family. Just like Tara, I have been abused by my family members for many years. When I went to school, I had a hard time adjusting to the environment. I had a hard time fitting into the norm. It took me many years to fit in. In the end, I was able to fit in but I lost my own voice.
I never wanted to stand out; I never wanted to be heard; I never wanted to share my opinion. I always felt like I had the wrong answer to the question everyone could answer so easily.
So I just copied their answers.
I was taught to always forgive my family members.
So I forgave my family who tried to commit suicide in front of an 11-year-old child.
I was taught to always respect my father.
So I respected my father who abused my mother in front of me.
I was told that brothers protected their younger sisters from the world.
So I said my bruises were from my clumsiness; and not from my brother.
People preach "be yourself" all the time. But without sufficient understanding of human emotions and education, those words do not hold much value. I grew up in a society where being indifferent and dispassionate was better than being called strange. As nobody wanted to be around a strange person and I wanted to have friends.
Tara Westover did a remarkable job characterizing and describing the complicated emotions she must have gone through. And through her words, I was able to better understand myself and my emotions.
What is your story? Send me an email, I would love to hear about it.