Rated 5 of 5 stars
Westover takes the reader on a heart-wrenching voyage of severe brainwashing and her subsequent recovery of fundamentalist Mormon ideals by her father. Westover paints a picture of a childhood devoid of education and laced in fear fueled by her father’s uncanny belief in survivalist preparation and her psychotic, abusive older brother. Her story begins in her childhood, a place most of us look to as reverent, special and innocent. Westover’s childhood experiences involved working in a scrapyard using dangerous equipment and seeing (and overcoming) horrendous injuries. As a child seeing people lose limbs, burned flesh and even herself suffering head trauma, she continues to support her father’s belief that it is all in God’s hands. Her siblings, eager followers of her father just as she is, constantly cower beneath the beliefs of her father. The girls get this especially hard as his interpretation of the Mormon faith believes that women should be covered, quiet and in the kitchen serving their husbands without complaint. Her mother is a staunch supporter of this belief and an enabler of her daughters dependence on these ideals. While her mother is smart and capable, she is reduced in size by her husband.
Westover’s story into how she moved through the world as a young, seventeen year old girl who’d never been to school but gets into college under the vice of “homeschooling” is a critical point in her history. By attending Brigham-Young University and being around others of the Mormon faith that did not behave as her fundamentalist family was the first crack in the façade she’d grown to live behind. Her first years in college taught her more history and understanding of the world than she could have ever had on Bucks Peak, the mountain she’d grown up on. As she realizes her zest for learning and reading, she shocks herself at the ability she has to write and defend her own thoughts. This was a new occurrence for her to be able to share her thoughts since being with her family was no place to speak up or debate any ideas.
Her story is wrought with torment by her older brother and his unstable emotions. He was a particularly unsavory and maddening individual to read about. Her mother and father harbored and protected their boys while the girls were questioned, not believed and forced into silence. This highlighted the patriarchal society that she was raised within and readers will feel especially triumphant when she psychologically gains power from her new independence and supportive male relationships outside her family. Readers will be enthralled with Westover’s story and the nuances of her journey to being a doctor, traveler, friend, mate and ever-loyal family member.
Raging Book Reviews Highly Recommended
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