This is a very hard book to review. It is deep and complicated. It is the story of the life of a young Mormon girl whose family is very strict and judgemental. They are also survivalists.
Tara who is the voice of the memoir is a very tough girl. She is stuck in a family of zealots and neglectful parents (who believe that they are good parents) as well as gifted spiritual leaders.
Tara’s Dad is careless with both himself and even more so with his children. His belief that everything is in God’s plan, is not an excuse for his negligence with everyone else’s well-being. I also believe in God’s plan but not to the extent that I can hurt others and expect that whatever happens is for the best and part of ”God’s Plan.”
One of the saddest parts of the book is the ”homeschooling” that her Mom claimed to have done for her children. It was pretty much left to the kids, other than learning to read and very basic math skills. Amazingly, her Mom and Dad took credit for the education that several of their children achieved with advanced degrees. They were very much self-taught. The other limitation to their education was that only certain books were allowed in their home. If they did not follow the anti-government, pro-Mormon point of view, they were banned. This made for a very sheltered and skewed view of history.
The one thing that the parents were not participants in, was Polygamy. Although they did not practice it, they believed that in Heaven it would be the norm. This was kind of a surprising aspect of the book. It seems that so many Mormon books deal with that as a basis for their story. This was refreshing.
Tara went through so much in her family, inept and unstable parents, a mentally ill and dangerous brother, a poor education and on and on and on. The part of the book that really threw me however was when Tara finally got away from these people and constantly doubted herself and her sanity. She went way above what anyone normal would do to try to stay in good standing with her family. She was burned by her Mother over and over and still keeps going back for more even today. I do not understand how she could continually put herself back in the bullseye knowing what would happen. Tara is a brilliant woman and I understand that she was a damaged person after growing up in this environment. I do not understand that at this point in her life she continues to reach out to her Mother, who has refused to acknowledge any wrong doing, and who continues to persecute her with the rest of her family.
This book is so complicated and I could write about it for hours. I would recommend that you read it, although it is very unsettling for lots of reasons.
*** stars -My rating for this book is 3 1/2 stars.