An incredible memoir in the same vein as The Glass Castle released earlier this month. Tara is from an isolated Mormon fundamentalist family in Idaho. She grows up with six siblings, reared by a father whose religious fanaticism includes not allowing the family to see doctors, go to school or even to get a birth certificate. They live in a state of preparation for ‘The Days of Abomination’ stockpiling rifles, food and fuel in mountain caches. Tara grows up a part of this paranoia; with its draconian views on female modesty and subservience. School is a ploy by the government to infiltrate family, so Tara doesn’t attend – instead, along with most of the other children, she is recruited by her father to work in the often dangerous scrap-collecting family business. Her mother becomes a self-taught herbalist and midwife, attending to both major and minor injuries, as well as any local births by any fundamentalists in the surrounding areas. Tara describes an environment that is harsh, primitive, often insane, yet at times demonstrating family love and loyalty too. Somehow she manages to rise above these emotional and mental constraints of her childhood, and she educates herself enough to be accepted in the nearby university. To succeed there she must somehow fill in the gaps of history and cultural knowledge that anyone else takes for granted, such as the Holocaust – a term she had never even heard before. She is a natural academic and slowly but surely she discovers the overpowering sense of liberation and intoxication that true education can offer a willing mind. I could not put this book down – and was utterly hooked from the first page. Her writing is beautiful, compulsive, insightful – a truly wonderful book – and will be one of my favourites this year!