i just finished reading The New York Times best selling memoir, Educated by Tara Westover. More on that in a moment, but first I transgress too when I first read the classic novel Look Homeward Angel by Thomas Wolfe. Why? When Wolfe’s heralded novel was first published some literary critics charged that it was not in fact a novel but rather an auto-biography. Some accused Wolfe with telling his life story, an autobiography, rather than creating an original manuscript. When Look Homeward Angel was published in 1929 the term Memoir was not part of the general descriptions of literary work. Autobiography covered that category.
Now, back too Educated, a memoir. Tara Westover’s life story is so incredulous that this reader was tested on page after page as to whether I was reading a novel or a memoir. My thoughts were the flip-side of Look Homeward Angel as I observed , “This can’t be a novel it must be true.” I mean to offer no criticism of Educated or Westover for telling of her remarkable story. Having read many, many excellent memoirs ( search gordonsgoodreds.com ), I have no problems with memoir authors adopting the necessity of some literary license in bringing a story to life. If you read the memoir The Glass Castle , by comparison, you may find Educated a story that in places boarders on disbelief. I make that observation not as criticism but in awe of Westover’s survival and success.
Turn the pages and enjoy.