Educated by Tara Westover
Please join us on Wednesday evening to celebrate the first day of spring (!) and discuss Educated by Tara Westover. I know many of you have many thoughts and reactions to this, and there are a few discussion questions below to stir additional conversation. Looking forward to this -- and feel free to bring book ideas for April!
Drop us a line and let us know if we can hope to see you!
1. Did you like this book?
2. Tara writes in the beginning that this book isn't about Mormonism. What is it about?
3. What makes a book like this so attractive to so many people?
4. What shocked you or surprised you? (I liked the way she anticipated the reader -- she gets the questions of Mormonism and mental health out of the way so she can focus on the story she wants to tell.)
5. What is the tone of this book? What is Tara's attitude towards her childhood as she looks back?
6. Could you get a sense of how poor her family was? How does that play a part in their choices? (Not as blatantly poor as Trevor Noah's family, for example.)
7. In what ways does Tara's family choose to ignore opportunities (whereas, in contract, Trevor Noah's family never had the choices to begin with)?
8. Are there no child protective services in Idaho? What about seat belt laws? How is no one sent to the hospital or to jail after those car wrecks?
9. What did discipline look like in the Westover house? Did Gene ever use the rod? Would that (or some other kind of discipline) have helped prevent Shawn's rages -- or were those due to mental illness?
10. Did you need to remind yourself that this is present day? (I guess there are other pockets of the world where people are stuck in time. This is the case for the protagonist of the fictional work The Elegance of the Hedgehog who was raised in poverty just outside of Paris along with her 13 siblings.)
11. Did this book stir up any emotions in you? Which ones? How so?
12. What do you make of Tara's relationship with her sister Audrey? (I found her curiously absent throughout most of the book, but felt that omission explained by the events at the end.)
13. In contrast to Crazy Rich Asians, what does character development look like in this story?! ("At the Galleria Nazionale d'Arte Antica, I stood before Caravaggio's Judith Beheading Holofernes and did not once think about chickens." p.268)
14. What is her tone at the end as she suggests the reader might call her new self "falsity" or "betrayal"? (329) Does she really accept her new self or is she still sitting in judgment?
15. How can we trust our memories? (This brings to mind other books I've read recently about shifting memories -- Leaving the Saints: How I Lost the Mormons and Found My Faith by Martha Beck and Another Brooklyn by Jacqueline Woodson.)
16. Could you picture the mountain princess?
17. Tara writes in the beginning that her father never told her how she'd "know when it was time to come home" (xv). Did she go home in the end? How does she reconcile her two "selves"? ("That night [in front of the mirror] I called on her and she didn't answer. She left me. She stayed in the mirror. The decisions I made after that moment were not the ones she would have made. They were the choices of a changed person, a new self...I call [this new self] an education." (328-9))
Thank you for such a thought-provoking discussion of Educated by Tara Westover. We were so eager to discuss this book that we completely skipped our traditional cocktail hour, never moved from the kitchen to the living room and only answered an ice breaker question at the very end of the evening.
We are hoping for another "really good read", and I suspect we may find it in The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas. Please join us in April to discuss.
Hope to see you there!
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The Tipsy Mamas' Book Club is co-hosted by Corinne Foster and myself, though the spirit of our discussions is flavored by many readers.