(Spoiler alert.) How easy it is to embrace certainty in our institutions, beliefs, and systems which, in their purpose or consequence, perpetuate the exploitation of society’s vulnerable.
Tara Westover describes her escape from a reclusive Idaho homestead to the heights of academia. Her escape from the no education scrap heap to academic success at Cambridge and Harvard seems…implausible. Her memoir made me wonder if the author Westover sacrificed truth to make a better story. You can read some of her footnotes and admissions of faulty memory cynically — they make her appear to be a more credible narrator.
Her academic champions were all wise and knowing older men whose almost uncanny discovery of her intellect and potential contrasted starkly with her own father’s simple-minded view of women as either faithful servants of their husbands or whores.
As a critical reader I must question her credibility. When I question her credibility am I being unfair, parochial, misogynistic?
There was in the end something I found very difficult to reconcile. If she is so broken — and her struggle and internal conflict strongly suggest she is still broken — how could she have written the story of her journey with such wisdom, penetrating insight and self-knowledge?
If she has such wisdom, insight and self-knowledge why would she publish this book? It was about her education in its many-layered meanings but it was a huge f*** you to her parents and brother “Shawn.” Once Random House agreed to publish it she must have comprehended at some level the book would be perceived as a very public vindictive act aimed at her parents and brother.