Educated

Tara Westover

"There’s a sense of sovereignty that comes from life on a mountain, a perception of privacy and isolation, even of dominion. In that vast space you can sail unaccompanied for hours, afloat on pine and brush and rock. It’s a tranquillity born of sheer immensity; it calms with its very magnitude, which renders the merely human of no consequence."

"The story of how Tyler decided to leave the mountain is a strange one, full of gaps and twists. It begins with Tyler himself, with the bizarre fact of him. It happens sometimes in families: one child who doesn’t fit, whose rhythm is off, whose meter is set to the wrong tune. In our family, that was Tyler. He was waltzing while the rest of us hopped a jig; he was deaf to the raucous music of our lives, and we were deaf to the serene polyphony of his."

"I don’t know how long I sat there reading about it, but at some point I’d read enough. I leaned back and stared at the ceiling. I suppose I was in shock, but whether it was the shock of learning about something horrific, or the shock of learning about my own ignorance, I’m not sure. I do remember imagining for a moment, not the camps, not the pits or chambers of gas, but my mother’s face. A wave of emotion took me, a feeling so intense, so unfamiliar, I wasn’t sure what it was. It made me want to shout at her, at my own mother, and that frightened me."

"The bishop sat calmly behind his desk. He asked what he could do for me, and I said I didn’t know. No one could give me what I wanted, because what I wanted was to be remade."

"For the first time in my life I shouted at my father—not about the car, but about the Weavers. I was so suffocated by rage, my words didn’t come out as words but as choking, sputtering sobs. Why are you like this? Why did you terrify us like that? Why did you fight so hard against made-up monsters, but do nothing about the monsters in your own house?"

"Perhaps it was the backdrop: Buck’s Peak was theirs and it camouflaged them, so that when I saw them there, surrounded by the loud, sharp relics of my childhood, the setting seemed to absorb them. At least it absorbed the noise. But here, so near the university, they seemed so unreal as to be almost mythic."

"I didn’t know why I couldn’t tell them. I just couldn’t stand the thought of people patting me on the back, telling me how impressive I was. I didn’t want to be Horatio Alger in someone’s tear-filled homage to the American dream. I wanted my life to make sense, and nothing in that narrative made sense to me."

"When I was a child, I waited for my mind to grow, for my experiences to accumulate and my choices to solidify, taking shape into the likeness of a person."

© Kyuwon Lee, 2020.