• Erin Zaranec

2018 Reads: Books 51-55

After the death of her life-long best friend, the separation from her husband, and the moody teenage years of her daughter - Isabel finds herself lost.

Suddenly, everything she thought she knew and loved is no longer. This book is about friendship, motherhood, love both old and new, and a woman's power to overcome all of life's obstacles.

In this memoir, Tara Westover explores her childhood in the mountains of Idaho. Born to survivalists, her family lived an isolated life that was, literally, off the beaten path.

This book is eye-opening, frustrating, interesting, and inspiring.

Now -- I do feel like I need to add in a personal opinion that may be an unpopular one. It seems like there's something missing from Tara's story. I get it - it's inspiring that she grew up with no formal education and is now traveling the world speaking. BUT - I truly just do not understand how in the world Westover went from an isolated and uneducated upbringing to attending Harvard and Cambridge. I understand that scholarships and other financial aid institutions are in place, but I did question at times if Westover over-dramatized her lack of education throughout her childhood.

The writing was good and the stories were interesting, I think my natural cynic just took over a bit during this read.

This was my first time reading a collection of short stories and I loved it! At first I was a bit confused because I didn't realize it was a grouping of short stories... but once I caught on to that I fell in love.

The stories explore the binds that tie us to those who we love - whether that be our spouse, lover, parents, or friends. It speaks to who and what defines the spaces we call home.

"Who Will Greet You At Home" was one of my absolute favorites in the collection, with raw and honest writing about a woman desperate to conceive a child. This collection was an incredible debut piece by Arimah.

This book was so interesting, so fun, and so different from any memoir I've read. Fontaine, who joined the circus after living a life structured around her mother's illness.

Fontaine writes of her time being transformed into a snake charmer, an escape artist, and the high-voltage Electra. She writes of love, loss, friendship, and the sense of starting over with such grace and fun.

The Electric Woman isn't just Tessa, it's her mother, too - who allowed Tessa to follow her calling to the Big Tent after fearlessly traveling abroad after years of suffering strokes. If you've ever had the fleeting thought of "what if..." this book is for you. What if you just picked up and left it all behind? What if you lived life on the road? What if you trusted a loved one to live life on their terms? Fontaine explores it all.

This memoir was forged out of a diagnosis of Stage IV colon cancer.

A professor of divinity at Duke and a firmly religious woman - Bowler finds herself questioning everything and wanting more answers than she can be given.

She didn't necessarily want more answers about her diagnosis - she wanted answers about why it was her who received the diagnosis in the first place.

Bowler's memoir is heartbreaking - but it's also funny. She writes with grace, honesty, and a true and defined voice.


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