My daughter recently gifted me the book Educated by Tara Westover. As I unwrapped the book and looked at the cover image of a sharpened pencil, I assumed the book would be a study on education practices in our school system. A topic my daughter is keen on.
I couldn’t have been more wrong.
Educated takes you on an epic journey of finding hope
The book tells the journey of a girl growing up in a survivalist family in the mountains of Idaho. The youngest of 7, Tara shares her life story to date (she is only in her 30’s). A story, that if she had written as a work of fiction, would not be believable.
However, in writing as a memoir, sharing events that occurred to her personally, we are invited into a world of love, passion, dysfunction, instability, humor, abuse, denial, loyalty, and acceptance. Finally, it culminates in the hard decision she made to either “settle” and accept life as she knew it, or, step out in faith that a new world can exist for her. But knowing the consequence of stepping out will mean losing all that she had been taught to be true.
Not knowing the story before I started turning the pages, I was captured by the horrors this girl faced on almost a daily basis. The book was HARD to keep reading. The stories she shared caused me great heartache.
I wanted to put it down and not allow my mind to ponder the situations Tara and her family faced, yet, it was her endurance through the situations that kept pulling me back to read another page. Finally, I succumbed to the story’s pull on me and I cleared my evening schedule to binge read to the end.
Tara’s story is about a real woman, with real problems, who experienced real success. Tara is a Lemon Crusher, a woman who turns the lemons life gave her and into lemonade and through sharing her story, she becomes an example to others.
Everyone who takes the time to read and digest Educated by Tara will be better for it. The power Tara has in sharing her story with love, kindness and understanding as opposed to vengeance, hostility and hate, is most unusual in today’s culture. It’s what I find most admirable about her writing.
Tara displays immense emotional maturity in her ability to describe the details of the events that occurred without a vindictive spirit. The message of the book is that she has learned, through becoming ‘educated’, that being able to see life from more than one perspective is a gift that frees her from the bondage she grew up in.
For me, Tara’s book is not about being pro or anti any religion or belief. It’s certainly not about education in the traditional sense. It’s about the power we each hold inside us to “find” and then “shine” our own light and free ourselves from the expectations or power others may have imposed on us. It’s liberating to know that we can love someone, and have boundaries on our relationship with them.
Freedom in education
Brianna, a Lemon Crushing women who experienced immense challenges growing up in a dysfunctional family, also found freedom in education.
Read her story and be inspired…
Brianna’s Story: Finding hope through education
“I decided at a very young age I was NOT going to live like my parents.”
“Most of my life has been a valley. A challenging, adversity-filled experience. I grew up within the most dysfunctional home life. Until I left for college, I lived in a home with divorced parents with mom living upstairs, dad living downstairs, and chaos in between. I tried to be out of the house as much as possible.
I needed an outlet for my home life stress, and my outlet turned out to be an education. I poured everything into school. That is where I felt safe. I clung to my teachers and the parents of my friends. I intentionally picked friends that had good parents. Parents who had healthy relationships and steady jobs. In a way, I became an adopted daughter to many.
Having dinner at a friend’s house was far better than having dinner at mine.
My high school guidance counselor was a Godsend. I knew I needed scholarships to pay for college and she not only guided me in applying for them, she allowed me to use the school’s computers early and late each day (we didn’t have a computer at home). Many days I would arrive at school by 6 AM just to get on the computers to complete my homework and see what new scholarships I may apply for.
I ended up graduating from high school, continued on to college, and today I have a degree in Psychology. I am enjoying being a wife, a mom to a rambunctious son, a career in insurance and I am starting the process to complete my master’s degree. My husband and I have a healthy relationship, and we are modeling for our son a lifestyle that was never modeled for me.”“I grew up in chaos, but I made choices not stay there.” Brianna Anderson Click To Tweet
You can unlock and better future
Reflection: “Do you wish the adversity had never happened: or are you glad it did?”
“I honestly can say that I am so thankful for the challenges. I’m so thankful for my crazy childhood because it developed a resiliency in me that I don’t think I would have been able to develop if I had things easy if life was perfect. I would not be as confident or capable today in all my tasks without being forced to figure out life as a child.
When you are 7 years old and must wake up your brothers and get them dressed and fed and get the three of you to school on time, without any adult support, you grow up fast. I learned from a young age how to figure things out on my own. I didn’t let the fact we had no computer stop me from getting my homework done.
Without all those roadblocks, I wouldn’t be as driven to achieve. As driven to be successful. As driven to create a happy life for myself and my family.”
Tara and Brianna, two women, each raised in a dysfunctional family, who discovered that education was the key to unlock a better future. May their stories inspire you to make lemonade out of the lemons in your life.
For more on making Lemonade Out of Lemons you would love Pearl’s book Lemon Crushers; A Working Woman’s Guide to Overcoming Adversity! There are stories about the qualities for success and overcoming your challenges. You’ll be ready to start crushing lemons after chapter one.
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