The quality of mercy is not strain’d
It droppeth as the gentle rain from heaven . . . Merchant of Venice
I never seem to get book recommendations right. Marilynne Robinson’s Gilead and Lila, Leif Enger’s Peace Like a River, Chaim Potok’s The Chosen – there are good, thoughtful people who don’t love these books, Idaho gal among them; it baffles me. Of course, this bafflement goes both ways. I told a friend recently that the Harry Potter series never really grabbed me. “Oh, I’m not sure we can be friends,” she replied. So, I’m generally tentative about suggesting a “must read.” But, well, onward into the breach and all that: Educated by Tara Westover is one of those books that all good human beings will like; please give it a whirl.
Here’s the story and a bit of a spoiler, that isn’t really a spoiler because, of course, she wrote a best-selling memoir: Tara is raised by fundamentalist, survivalist parents and Educated traces her journey from barely home-schooled to a PhD from Oxford. The prose is spare and the story told gently, even as she remembers horrific events. She remembers a cruelly abusive brother, a father who kept the family spinning wildly inward, always smaller and defensive, against imagined conspiracies. She tells of a mother who showed moments of strength and courage, but who finally succumbs to the world of her father’s creation – a dark, fearful existence, carved out of the hills and scrapyards of Idaho’s high desert hills.Continue reading “Tara Westover and the Quality of Mercy”