This month I bring you two very different books. One is a serious book about a Mormon girl who defies her upbringing. The other is a lighthearted rom-com, recommended by the Reese Witherspoon Book Club.
EDUCATED – Tara Westover
This book was recommended to me by a friend but after some quick googling I realized it was gaining a lot of attention, most notably as a result of Barack Obama calling it one of the best books of 2018. And really, I would have to agree.
Educated is a memoir of the author’s life growing up in a deeply conservative Mormon, survivalist family. She receives a birth certificate around the age of nine or ten, never set foot in a classroom or saw a doctor. Her mother was a local midwife/healer using herbs only and her father ran a salvage/junkyard.
She spent her childhood working for both her parents, who both turned a blind eye to abuse Tara suffered at the hands of her older brother. Despite this, Tara begins to educate herself as a teenager and manages to gain admission to Brigham Young University – an astonishing achievement. From there, her world is opened up and she ends up earning a PhD from some of the most prestigious universities in the world.
This book is beautifully written and deeply moving. It is not a book about the Mormon church in any way, but rather about coming to terms with a difficult past (Tara no longer has any contact with her father or some of her brothers) and the power and importance of education.
It was difficult to read at times, and I grew frustrated with Tara continually returning home despite the abusive treatment she was often subjected to, but this is part of her story – how she struggled to break away from the deep sense of family loyalty she was raised with. A worthwhile story which will leave you filled with admiration for Tara’s perseverance and resilience.
THE PROPOSAL – Jasmine Guillory
A much more lighthearted book for my second review, this one came to me via the ever reliable Reese Witherspoon Book Club. The Proposal is a lighthearted love story about a woman, Nikole, who turns down a very public proposal. She is rescued from the embarrassing scene by two people who quickly become very important to her as she deals with the aftermath of becoming a viral sensation.
This book is such fun and was exactly what I needed after reading Educated. I loved the characters – Guillory’s supporting cast are also entertaining and relatable. The book tries hard to highlight its more diverse cast of characters which is great, but sometimes a little obvious.
My only complaint would be that at one stage I felt there was too much going on, but she quickly pulls back to the core storyline, and it is a minor issue. Additionally, the characters all have a similar voice and some of them aren’t as well rounded as maybe they could have been. But I am nitpicking – if you’re looking for something deep and meaningful this probably is not the book for you. If you are looking for a lighthearted rom-com type of read to entertain you, this will be up your alley.
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