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Tara Westover

Cruel, Detached but Phenomenal. Such a melancholic story of a mental war (injuries as the aftermath) in the context of a family, between its members. The book is about how the young Tara morally has been wrestling with a heartbroken question: “What is a person to do, when their obligations to their family conflict with other obligations - to friends, to society, to themselves.” Born in the doctrine of Mormonism, raised by anti-government parents and grown uneducatedly with uneducated brothers and sisters. There were moments, accidents and injuries such as her brothers’ accidents in the junkyard and her dad’s burning face where it stopped my breath, yet all treated with herbal remedies. Tara’s family distrusted the government, called it socialists and that is why in Tara’s childhood, none of their siblings had ever been to school, hospital and ever gotten a birth certificate. Somehow they all survived deadly accidents with the mom’s herbs but attributed their survival to God’s will.


In the middle of the book, Tara once confessed that “Not knowing for certain, but refusing to give away to those who claim certainty, was a privilege I had never allowed myself. My life was narrated by others.” And, the others’ voices were forceful, emphatic, absolute. It exists in the form of black and white, forcefully manipulated by her father. I feel pity for young Tara to be dragged from a car with her hands pinned and her shirt rose by her brother, Shawn. But she could not cry; she laughed under the look of outsiders. She was living her life brutally stumbled under others’ feet.


I feel sad for the misfortunes of Tara, but I don’t hate her family; I dislike the manipulation of her father over Tara’s life. I feel inspiring, motivated to know young Tara has become a Cambridge doctorate, fully knowledgable and total control over her own life. I admire her self-learning capability and courage to face the truth at the end: she cut her father out of her life, as well as her mothers and her family


Lastly, I add her one of the brightest moments in found in her memoir. Tara always wanted to come back home, but she refused to do so not because she physically can’t. She knew the unspoken pact she would make as she stepped over the door. There were terms that she would trade her reality for theirs, choose her family means she would bury HER understanding of the world, leave it to rot in the earth. She never stepped in her house. Until now.

Or maybe a miracle might bring her back.

I doubt not.

Summer 2019

June 19, 2019 at 3:00:00 PM


novel, autobiography


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