A Memoir

Book - 2018
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Tara Westover was seventeen the first time she set foot in a classroom. Born to survivalists in the mountains of Idaho, she prepared for the end of the world by stockpiling home-canned peaches and sleeping with her "head-for-the-hills bag." In the summer she stewed herbs for her mother, a midwife and healer, and in the winter she salvaged in her father's junkyard. Her father distrusted the medical establishment, so Tara never saw a doctor or nurse. Gashes and concussions, even burns from explosions, were all treated at home with herbalism. The family was so isolated from mainstream society that there was no one to ensure the children received an education, and no one to intervene when an older brother became violent. When another brother got himself into college and came back with news of the world beyond the mountain, Tara decided to try a new kind of life. She taught herself enough mathematics, grammar, and science to take the ACT and was admitted to Brigham Young University. There, she studied psychology, politics, philosophy, and history, learning for the first time about pivotal world events like the Holocaust and the Civil Rights Movement. Her quest for knowledge transformed her, taking her over oceans and across continents, to Harvard and to Cambridge University. Only then would she wonder if she'd traveled too far, if there was still a way home.
Publisher: New York : Random House, [2018]
Copyright Date: ©2018
ISBN: 9780399590504
Branch Call Number: BIOGRAPHY 270 WESTOVER 2018
Characteristics: xiii, 334 pages ; 24 cm


From Library Staff

Portland Arts & Lectures: Tara Westover, December 4, 2018

multcolib_alisonk Jul 24, 2018

There are many moments in this memoir of growing up in a strict religious household that caused me to wince. Ultimately, it's a story about motivation and perseverance, but the road there is rocky and filled with manipulation, delusion and abuse. Julia Whelan does an excellent job of narrating th... Read More »

A wrenching but ultimately uplifting account of the author's childhood in an unbelievably strict Mormon family in a remote region of Idaho.

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Feb 14, 2019

Amazing story about an incredibly strong woman forced to make a choice between (disfunctional) family and survival of self. Very well written, couldn’t put it down.

Feb 13, 2019

A stunning memoir about survival and growth. Tara grows up isolated in a family that separates itself from the world due to religious principles. It's a tough and frequently violent life with physical hardship, abuse and psychological trauma. Yet. she endures. A powerful novel of the human spirit.

Feb 11, 2019

Wow! This was quite a read! An inspiring account that I can't wait to discuss at length with my book club.
As a Mormon myself, I can emphatically state that this is not a story about Mormonism but about mental illness.

Feb 09, 2019

This memoir of the youngest child in a family of 7 is almost unbelievable. I had to remind myself several times of the wedding photo of the parents, the only one of them displayed in the whole house, showed a typical young couple engrossed in their love for each other. Yet by the time Tara came along, the father was a survivalist, stockpiling food, guns, and ammunition against the End Times and Y2K. He knew Randy Weaver, a survivalist neighbor, who was, in his sick mind, killed by the FBI. He forced Tara, at the age of 10, to work in his junkyard, throwing around pieces of metal that seriously injured her, and her brothers. He hated that she wanted to learn, though all she had to read was the Bible and the Book of Mormon. Finally one of her brothers who ended up with a PhD helped her study for the SAT and get into BYU. She was isolated and lonely there, but one prof. recognized her brilliance and got her into a summer program at Cambridge in England, where she thrived. Her tutor there told her she was so good that he'd help her get into a grad program at Cambridge. He did, and she spent 3 splendid years there, getting a D. Lit. She became a professor. Her father, meantime, set himself on fire with another strange invention, and had to retire. He forced her mother to become an herbalist, and they become very rich. Whenever she was near the valley where she grew up, she called her mother, asking to meet her. Her mother refused, unless her father was invited too. She wasn't willing to see him, so she never saw either parent again. A sad, but invigorating memoir, because at least she and two of her brothers got out.

Feb 05, 2019

I had a hard time believing that the events that occurred in this person's life were true. I may not understand the father's beliefs in Mormonism but I think that this on the extreme side of beliefs. Stockpiling weapons and gas was reasonable for an expected millennium bug on January 1, 2000. The fact that banning things such as milk could have stunted his children's growth. Religion getting in the way of his family is something that should not have happened and as an atheist, I see this as ignoring your family and just following your own beliefs as forgetting about your family and being selfish. This book was well written but there were some issues in the writing. This book was too repetitive and I think that it mentioned too many similar things, such as Shawn abusing and beating someone up.

I rated this book an 8/10 because I liked the story but I did not like how the author conveyed it. I think that this book could have used a more effective way of telling her memoir. I think that the author should use a more immersive way of telling the story so that the reader does not have to reread any lines more than twice.

wendybird Feb 05, 2019

As a librarian (who is a bit older), I've read a LOT of books, and am not easily impressed simply because Book X has been on the Y bestseller list for Z weeks. However, I can say that, for me, this book left me incredulous. I cannot believe this young woman, Tara Westover, had both the physical and emotional strength to (eventually) move past her family, and the control and extreme beliefs they lived by. It deserves the many accolades already heaped upon it (accurately, "a punch to the gut, a slow burn, a savage indictment, a love letter... I loved this book and this woman.") Assisting me to understand some of her world was a book by Jon Krakauer that I had read earlier, "A banner under heaven." Readers of "Wild" and "A glass castle"will probably enjoy this, and like me, hope for a stellar movie rendition.

Feb 03, 2019

It’s really sad to me that there are kids who are living like this. That their parents think they need to stockpile gas and guns and then don’t give their children a proper education so when the kids go out into the world they are lost about world events like the Holocaust. And some who don’t try to get a better education so they are dependent on their parents for a way to make a living and get even further brainwashed about what the world actually is like. Tara is nothing like her family. She wants more and wants to learn more. I feel for her situation and I’m glad she was strong enough mentally to leave her family to get an education. This is a great memoir to learn about those families who feel they need to be survivors against the government. Who live pretty much off the grid. I will say, don’t listen to this audiobook a month after listening to Kristin Hannah’s The Great Alone. Same narrator and the stories are too similar. I was really confused at first and had to concentrate for the first few chapters.

mazinwhistler Jan 31, 2019

This is a brilliant book! After reading I now know why it received so many accolades. Westover tells her story brilliantly as shocking as it is and has the ability to draw you right in there with her. At times, I would be reading this book and need to remind myself that this is a memoir and not fiction - the story really did happen and as shocking as it is, I am awe that Westover was able make her way out of a life that heartbreaking. Well worth reading!

Jan 29, 2019

Loved this book. I am amazed at the main character's determination to get education and get out of her father's home no matter what, even if she does not openly say that. Some people would break under all these struggles but Tara only gets stronger. Inspiring story.

Jan 28, 2019

Almost written as a fiction. I had to double check a few times to make sure that it was a memoir. For me, this was a highlight. I thought that how the story was told was well written and provided insight into a culture and even community that many have never seen. (survivalist prepper). I think this is a great read for many people.

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Jan 08, 2019

“You are not fool’s gold, shining only under a particular light. Whomever you become, whatever you make yourself into, that is who you always were.”

Jan 08, 2019

“My life was narrated for me by others. Their voices were forceful, emphatic, absolute. It had never occurred to me that my voice might be as strong as theirs.”

Jan 08, 2019

“Emancipate yourselves from mental slavery
None but ourselves can free our minds” — Bob Marley
p. 257

Dec 17, 2018

I was able to tell myself that it didn't affect me, that he didn't affect me, because nothing affected me....I had misunderstood the vital truth: that it's not affecting me, that was its effect.

ArapahoeMaryA Oct 23, 2018

My life was narrated for me by others. Their voices were forceful, emphatic, absolute. It had never occurred to me that my voice might be as strong as theirs.

DBRL_ReginaF Mar 14, 2018

“You can love someone and still choose to say goodbye to them,” she says now. “You can miss a person every day, and still be glad that they are no longer in your life.”


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