This week, one book seems to be attracting more attention than any other: Educated by Tara Westover, a gutting memoir about one woman's experience growing up with religious fundamental parents — a survivalist father and midwife and herbalist mother, to be exact — in the mountains of Idaho. She had no telephone and no birth certificate, and she didn't attend school. Yet, as she recounts in the memoir, she found a way to detach from her family's unconventional and dangerous lifestyle to get an education, eventually earning a PhD at Cambridge University.
Memoirs about difficult childhoods are nothing new, of course, but every writer brings a fresh perspective to these stories about growing up in a family situation that runs counterintuitive to what are believed to be the core principles of family: That family is safe. That family wants what is best for you.
"I found when I was losing my family that I became very aware of the fact that we tend to get the same few messages about family and loyalty, over and over again," Tara Westover told Bustle writer E. Ce Miller in an interview about the new book. "We have a lot of stories about family loyalty, but we don’t have a lot of stories about what happens when loyalty to family comes in conflict with loyalty to yourself. We have a lot of stories about forgiveness, but most seem to conflate forgiveness with reconciliation, or see reconciliation as the most desirable form of forgiveness. That hasn’t made sense to me. I had no idea if reconciliation was in reach for me, and I needed to find more complicated ways to think about family loyalty and forgiveness. I needed a more complicated story than that. And I didn’t really find it. So, I told the story."
For three more stories similar to Educated, try these: