S2, Ep7 How to Fail: Tara Westover
This week, I bring you a truly incredible woman. Her name is Tara Westover. She wrote a memoir called Educated, which is quite simply one of the best books I have ever read: profound, moving, unerringly original. It tells the story of Westover's upbringing, born the seventh child of Mormon survivalist parents who didn't believe in public schooling or mainstream medicine. It wasn't until she was 17 that Westover decided to educate herself - with astonishing results.
We talk about what it's like to love your family but to be estranged from them, and how the two ideas can co-exist. We also discuss how on earth someone teaches themselves algebra ('Yeah,' says Westover, 'that wasn't fun') and what it was like to refuse any pain medication despite having a dental abscess. Her failures include flunking tests, finding it difficult to make friends, her failure to believe in her family's religion even though she wanted to and her failure to make her relationship with her parents work. She also quotes John Stuart Mill on feminism and it's completely brilliant.
This was one of those very special interviews where I felt my mind expanding just from the privilege of listening to her speak. I hope you enjoy it too.
Elizabeth Day @elizabday
Tara Westover @tarawestover
Chris Sharp @chrissharpaudio
4th Estate Books @4thEstateBooks