Educated: A Memoir by Tara Westover exceeded my expectations. If you follow us on Instagram, you probably saw that I don’t particularly gravitate toward reading non-fiction. Because of this I hesitated to read Educated, but it came so highly recommended that thought I’d give it a try—and I’m glad I did! Tara Westover’s writing and story gripped me from the beginning. She grew up in the mountains of Idaho with a bipolar, fundamentalist Mormon father, and suffered through his wrath with the rest of her family. Her upbringing was dangerous and isolated and restrictive. Against all odds, she persevered and earned herself a PhD in history from Cambridge. Her memoir takes the reader through her tumultuous childhood, through her ignorance and self-doubt as she embarks on an educated path, and the difficulties she faces in reckoning with her family and ultimately, herself. Westover’s story is inspiring and eye-opening, one full of hope when it seems that all hope is lost. She’s only a couple of years older than me and it’s hard to fathom that such different lives could be happening in parallel. It really brings light to how vastly the walks of life, communities, and people in the world, or the United States in this instance, differ. This is one of the best books I’ve read so far this year—add it to your list!
Next Year in Havana by Chanel Cleeton, on the other hand, did not meet my expectations. I thought it was just okay. It’s the type of book that’s typically right up my alley: historical fiction, strong female lead, a little bit of a love story. But honestly? The love story got in the way here. There were too many instances of “fluttering hearts” and “quickening pulses” (lol) for my liking—it was a little too corny and didn’t feel real. I did, however, enjoy learning a little bit more about Cuba. I thought that Chanel Cleeton did a good job of weaving in the past and present political climates and their effect on the culture into the story. If I had to take or leave this book, though, I’d leave it.
Have you read either of these? If you have, what did you think? What are you reading right now? I’d love to know!
PS—Here are past month’s book reviews: