Posts Tagged ‘Not a Book Review’

“The family was shrinking”, It Read.

I picked up a new read at the book store recently, Educated.  This is my first read of the new year.

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Standing in the store, reading the blurb, I instantly felt compelled to give this book a go.  It’s a non-fiction, memoir of sorts, about a girl who grew up in the mountains of Idaho with her mom, dad and boo-coos of siblings, she being the youngest.  It chronicles her family life and the nest, as fledgling older brothers flew away, and eventually, her journey in leaving it as well.

Not gonna lie, once I opened the book at home from my comfy reading chair, I almost closed it for good before getting to Chapter One.  I’m one of those weird book lovers who reads the whole thing, including all those miscellaneous pages at the beginning before the story actually starts with “Once upon a time.”  The author’s note, which precedes the first chapter in this particular book, opens with this sentence:  “This story is not about Mormonism.”

There were a couple of sentences following that one, but they didn’t matter because I was stalled out on that one, six word sentence.

Why did the author feel the need to state that from the get go?

I am not a Mormon.  I have some friends who are.  But I am not.  I am friends with them and they with me, yet we do not press our views, opinions, thoughts on this subject matter into each other.  I wonder, “Will reading this book in some way impress thoughts about Mormonism into the tapestry that is who I am?”  Because who I am belongs to The I Am, I know that I have to take care to guard my heart.  “Be careful”, I’ve always warned my own sons, “of what you read, listen to or watch, because you cannot unread, unhear or unsee what you take in”.  I believe this with all of who I am.  (Thank you, I Am.)

So, was this my warning to put the  book down?

I didn’t.  And I’m still reading it.  But had I read the author’s note at the book store, I probably would have laid it back down on the table where I found it.  I’m not saying that’s the right thing to have done.  I’m not saying reading it is the right thing to do.  This presented a small personal fork that I have chosen to navigate carefully.

Since I did not close the book and chose instead to proceed forward from the author’s note, today found me in Chapter 6, where I reached my second place of stalling.  The book read, from the first paragraph,  “The family was shrinking…”  It didn’t even take an entire sentence to bring me to a stand still.

Again, I read the words, “The family was shrinking…”, and I felt the weight of a previously unnamed something stirring in me.

2018 was a tough year.

2018 found me listening to the whispers from dark places.  To the lies.  It found me reclining in hurts.  And in uncertainties.  Quite frankly, it was the most difficult string of months I’ve ever torn from the calendar.

Sometimes we know why there are seasons of disappointment, despair, and sometimes we don’t.  I’ve never really been able to put my finger on one solitary culprit for the funky year 2018 was.  There seemed to be lots of things, and nothing, all at the same time.  But I think this book that I’m reading that I almost didn’t has spoken to me the unnamed source of where most, if not all, of 2018’s negatives were birthed.

“The family was shrinking…”

That’s it.

Like breathing in and breathing out, my immediate family has increased, and is now decreasing.  Changing, like the seasons.  In an inevitable, natural rhythm, this change crept about gradually on the increase, and seemingly suddenly on the decrease.  Crept suddenly.  There’s an oxymoronic coupling if I ever saw one.  But it’s true.  Crept, because this change happened under the radar.  Suddenly, because it was harsh and immediate.

When our oldest son stoically left home in 2011, we were included in the details.  Plus, his two younger brothers were home still, providing companionship for each other and distraction enough for us to avoid hemorrhaging over the empty chair at the table.  This change was hard, but manageable.  We knew (sort of) where he was going, and (sort of) what he was doing.  Our communication was not severed.

When our middle son left not quite a year ago, it was different.  We were left out of the details.  We were left out of the thought of details.  In the middle of a cool night, he took off.  Was it done stoically?  Couldn’t tell you.  We weren’t there.  We didn’t know where he was, where he was going, or what he was doing or planned to do.  This change was hard.  Drastic. Resembling a theft.  It was stealthily carried out without our knowing.  Without our inclusion.  Our communication was severed.  Completely.  Bluntly.  Though there was one younger brother still at home, he was old enough to feel the head-spinning void this type of desertion brought.

And this is where 2018 was spent.  This is how it lingered forever and resulted quickly in lost time.

It was spent in retreat.
Huddling up with the immediate family.
Shutting out familiar routine.
Tending to the gaping wound.
Doggy paddling.
Keeping our heads above water.
Taking the waves as they came.
Sometimes constantly.
Oftentimes without warning.
One.
After another.
And another.

Waves titled:
Uncertainty
Self-doubt
and
Lies

Holding hands with:
Anger
Sadness
and
Neutrality

Fueled by:
Not knowing
Feelings of defeat
and
The hushed rumor mill of a community we were once a part of
and
The blaring rumor mill of a community we were never a part of

Rejection, in it’s rawest form, facing the saltiness of each wave that came.

Daily.  Sometimes hourly.  Occasionally by the minute.

Almost an entire year spent trying to figure out what our family whole looked like and who we were becoming.

“The family was shrinking…”

___

I might pick the book back up soon and read the rest of that sentence.
The rest of that chapter.
Maybe even the rest of the book.

But it will be later.

After this tsunami.

___________________________________________

Educated | A Memoir
BY Tara Westover

So far, I give it a very good rating.
Tara’s use of imagery in describing the mundane, often overlooked , is incredible.  So far, I have found that the author’s note is exactly what it states.  The author’s experience as chronicled is not about Mormonism, but instead, an age-old, shared instinct to separate at some point from our families in chase of our own identities.  I have been been both that young woman who was chasing, and now the older woman who has been left.  It would be neat if there was a companion book to this one written from the perspective of Tara’s mother.  Two points of view on the same experience.  But that’s my two cents on a book that I’m still to finish.  I’ll let you know when I reach the final word if my advanced review needs some editing.  At this point, I am really glad I didn’t read the author’s note while I was standing in Barnes & Noble.  Who knows how long it would have taken for me to acknowledge the normalcy of the thing that I felt was causing a bleed out in 2018.
Thank goodness I’ve entered 2019 on the mend.

~S

 

 

 

 

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