My post-graduate summer consisted of receiving sketchy job offers through the spam folder of my email, watching The Bachelorette for the first time, and a social media cleanse. During this "mental health cleanse,"dubbed social media hiatus I set a goal to read a plethora of books. For fun. I regret to inform you all.... am the most englishy english major ever--never once complained about having to read certain books that create a disdain with most (I'm looking at you, Gatsby), wrote hundreds of pages of essays in my undergraduate career with a smile on my face, and most importantly revere glasses as very, very fashionable. But if there was one thing that sort of let me down was the inability to choose a book of my own to read. My TBR list grew longer with each oncoming semester--and my month long breaks did not serve it any justice (as everyone who knows me knows I hold more than one job at a time).
This summer, while basking in its smoldering glory, I spent working at a small library in an even smaller town (it seriously only has one Zip code). Books came and went, chair yoga happened every Wednesday, semi-old white ladies played bridge on Friday mornings, and patrons obsessed over new arrivals. Usually it consisted of middle-aged women flocking to check out the new (or the old) Nora Roberts and Danielle Steele, but there was on book in particular that caught virtually everyone's attention.
Educated sat atop the "New Arrivals" shelf. I eyed it all summer, waiting for the "Holds" list to shorten with each check in and check out. It taunted me. I never knew I enjoyed memoirs until I read Persepolis in the 9th grade, and the premise to this particular story was compelling. Impoverished white girl in rural America finds happiness through the gift of knowledge. Hence why Jeanette Walls, The Glass Castle and J.D. Vance's, Hillbilly Elegy was all I spoke about for months post-read. I suppose it garnered relevance to the stories I share of my adolescence, the countless recountings of my parents escape to freedom in order to provide Education. So naturally, I read the hell out of this book once I got a hold of it.
Reminiscent of Yanagihara's A Little Life, I alternated between fascination, shock, and horror when reading Westover's story. The book is unremarkably difficult to read and even more difficult to put down. Having grown up with essentially no education, no birth certificate, and the 7th child of survivalist LDS parents, Educated is Dr. Tara Westover's retelling of her childhood, adolescence and adulthood.
The story reads as such a tale of survival, endurance and terror all while enchanting its reader (me) with a humorous tone. Months after reading it, I ask myself why I was so drawn to such terror? As aforementioned, my familial backstory in a city undergoing a civil war within a country who essentially abandoned its poor citizens reigned all too familiar between the lines of Westover's story.
Perhaps the emotional turmoil caused by the traumatic experiences lived by my family in a developing country with a never-ending civil war, could be the case. Yet, I believe my experience as someone sharing two cultures, one American and one Colombian, resonates with the story because of the narrator's seemingly unending battle between who is she is and who she was-- and learning she has inevitably developed an intersection of both.
Never stop reading, never stop learning and unlearning.. be Educated.