#1 "Who says you can't...?"

Resilient life story "Educated" by Tara Westover

The book “Educated” is a memoir by a girl who was raised by survivalists in the mountain of Idaho. She set foot to a formal education system only when she went to college at the age of 17. Yet, she was a hard-working, brilliant, daring soul and mind. She not only graduated from the college, she got a Ph.D from Cambridge University by the age of 27 years old. Her name is Tara Westover.

The story is meaningful and personal to me as it kept reminding me of my own childhood and my life journey. At a much milder form - I did go to public schools, and saw doctors when needed. The process of going from ‘no I don’t belong here’ to the breakthrough of finally saying ‘yes this is who I am’. I grew up at a pear farm. I remember my typical Sundays when my father woke my brother and me up at around 5 am so that we could help spray pesticides on the trees. When I was 24 years old, I told my family I wanted to go to the US for MBA program. ‘No, that is luxury only allowed for people who ‘have’, not our family. We are a poor family’, they said. I took my first GMAT, and the score was miserably low, as if it proved that they were right and I were not MBA worthy.

She is a brilliant writer because she could share the details of her experience and emotions with tremendous suspense. Particularly, the detail descriptions of the family injury stories and how the parents insisted relying on natural healing without doctors were breathtaking. The best part is that she helps users understand why. Later in the book she labeled it as ‘My father put faith before safety; while other parents put safety before faith’. As a reader, I had ‘ah ha’ moment. Beautiful writing!

I don’t think this book is a just Tara’s story. It is powerful because it is a story for everyone. As she discovers the reality of Weaver story, Holocaust, ibuprofen, and bipolar, she brought audience back to their memories. Tara kept labeling the process of discovering her life and choices she made. Her final choice of summarizing the process was ‘Education’. I labelled mine as ‘Connection’. What was your choice of word? What did you choose to dare through your life? Can you label it?