You are not fools’ gold shining only under a particular light. Whoever you become, whatever you make yourself into, that is who you always were. It was always in you.
Tara Westover’s 2018 memoir of her journey from uneducated child of a Doomsday Fundamentalist Mormon to Cambridge-educated Ph.D. is sure to resonate with anyone who has striven or strives to overcome the low expectations of their youth. A bootstraps story with a twist, it gradually reveals a dangerous family that she learns to recognize as such only with age and distance: a mentally ill father with no regard for her safety, an abusive brother who threatens her very life, and a mother who looks the other way even as she devotes her life to healing others. That she should aspire to better circumstances only makes the family all the belligerent. Yet there are heroes in her world, both kith and kin, who help her cross the divide to the world she has been taught to disdain.
A finalist for several national book prizes, Educated won a 2018 Goodreads Choice Award as well as a 2019 Audie Award for Julia Whelan’s outstanding narration. That’s how I discovered this gem, on Audible—my favorite way to “read”, but I’m sure it would have been equally compelling in print at 352 pages.