Two stars does not mean I disliked Educated: A Memoir, but rather that I found it to be OK. With this clarified I will explain the reasons for my ratiTwo stars does not mean I disliked Educated: A Memoir, but rather that I found it to be OK. With this clarified I will explain the reasons for my rating.
The beginning is confusing, which can scarcely be considered a plus. Initial questions that arise are resolved as one reads, and the further one goes the less is one willing to abandon the book or even put it down. I needed to know how the problems would be resolved.
Familial problems are what this book is about. Serious problems related to mental and physical abuse. This is by no means a light read. The family is Mormon, and they live in Idaho. The father is authoritarian, with clear fundamentalist leanings. There are seven children, of which Tara, the author, is the youngest. The mother is a midwife and a herbalist and supportive of her husband. The children are not educated nor given proper medical care. Any talk of home-schooling is a sham. The situation is extreme. This is what you will read about and about how difficult it is to leave the family and forge a new route. Three of the children do succeed, but what is the price that must be paid? The bonds of family, even those built on dishonesty, on fear and physical and psychological abuse prove to be almost impossible to break. This is the central focus of the book.
We are told in the beginning that this book Is not about the Mormon faith. I beg to differ. What happens in this family is tied closely to Mormon beliefs; the two cannot be separated.
Tara is telling of her ties to and her alienation from her family. What is presented is what has happened as she remembers it and she admits that her memories are at times confused. There are holes, lacking information and conflicting versions and there could be exaggerations. I am left with an uncomfortable feeling. I am not sure how much of this is absolutely true. Too much is fuzzy. All too often the author paraphrases. In other cases, quotes are given. I found myself wondering about the veracity of these too. How is it possible she remembers that? In any case, we are hearing one side of the story; I am not comfortable with this. I do not have adequate information to criticize specifics, but I am left uneasy. I certainly have difficulty believing all we are told. Call me a skeptic.
Furthermore, I find it strange that having completed the book I do not feel I know Tara. Something is missing.
The audiobook narration by Julia Whelan was good, in that it was not hard to follow, but clearly it is Tara’s views we are supposed to accept. I have given the narration three stars.
I am rating the book, not Tara. Although I feel unsure about the details, my sympathy lies with her, not with her father, nor her mother, nor her brother, Shawn.
Go ahead. Read the book. See what you think....more
Most of Jack London's books are about nature and life in the wild. This is not! It is said to be a semi-autobiographical novel.
The setting is San FraMost of Jack London's books are about nature and life in the wild. This is not! It is said to be a semi-autobiographical novel.
The setting is San Francisco at the turn of the 20th century. The central protagonist, Martin Eden, first a working-class seaman, is at twenty now struggling to educate himself and become a writer. He has fallen head-over-heels in love with Ruth Morse. Martin has been invited to her home by her brother because Martin had saved his life. Martin and Ruth are of completely different classes and backgrounds, but an attraction is there. She begins tutoring him and from there their relationship develops. The conversations between the two are cute. They made me smile. He knows nothing of proper etiquette. She is naive, albeit three, four years his senior. His strength, vitality and richness of experiences have an undeniable attraction to her. He is drawn by her knowledge and a deep-seated physical attraction. He reasons he will educate himself and will in so doing make himself worthy of her. Her parents are of course not pleased.
We watch how their relationship develops and the changes that occur in each of them. The novel is more than a love story; it is a character study. It is a study of Martin’s path toward becoming an author, the development of both his writing abilities as well as his philosophical and political views.
Martin is very much of an individualist, and where this leads him is what you will think about. That London was a socialist and yet Martin Eden an individualist is not incongruous if one considers how the book ends.
I was caught up in the tale. One vividly feels an author’s struggle to get that first book into print and what an author must go through to become acknowledged! After success is achieved, how does one feel then? Bliss or anger? Or does one feel deceived?
The writing varies from being strong and direct to wordy and overblown. This can perhaps be explained by the transformation that takes place in Martin.
I do feel the story should have been tightened. Each step/event in Martin’s life conveys a message and explains why he thinks and does what he does, but each is drawn out a little bit too long.
The audiobook I listened to was narrated by Andrew Garman. I think he did a truly fantastic job. First of all, it is easy to follow and read at a perfect speed. What is remarkable is Garman’s ability to capture the mood of disparate events - the excitement of intellectuals debating, a brawl or the flirtatious banter between Ruth and Martin. The tone of an educated bourgeoise, a drunk, a laundry worker in a hotel, or an immigrant woman struggling to make ends meet are all perfectly captured.
I am certainly glad I read this, and I do recommend it to others. One views Jack London with very different eyes knowing that he has written this book too, so very different from all his others....more