You’re probably aware by now that we are BIG Seinfeld fans. Yes, I know there are legions of disciples—believers that Seinfeld is the best sitcom to ever bless our screens. But I’d like to think that Rachel and I occupy the Peter and John slots, or at the very least, James and Matthew. Just remember readers, “it’s not a lie if you believe it.” And I believe it. All these years later, I’m still learning about “the anti-dentite” I adore. I had no idea Jerry was raised by orphans. In his own words, he jokes that he was “like a raccoon to [his] parents. You know it’s around, but you don’t know where it is. They had no interest in any of [his] activities: school, grades, social life, health, safety or education. Zero.” If there were such a thing as a parent lottery, Jerry’s folks would obviously in no way win, but they’d exceed Tara Westover’s parents, without question.
I’m not making light of the unlikely prodigy’s life, I promise. Few things are more inspiring to me than an indomitable spirit such as Westover’s. Trust me, I was cheering her on as she rose above her debilitating childhood, as she challenged her survivalist parent’s strangling beliefs. I was embarrassed at times that her parents share the same religion I do—not because of my religion but because of the way they interpreted and twisted it. I, myself, teach at BYU and wondered how I would respond to a student who innocently asks, “What is the holocaust?” I adore her for asking. Surely I would never imagine that student of mine had no formal schooling. None. Zero. Not one day in school prior to college. Hats off to you Tara Westover…for beating the staggering odds, for educating yourself. And while you occasionally seem to judge the people who helped you ascend the academic ladder, I still have big respect for your obvious moxie and your incomparable resolve. Move over Jeannette Walls, there’s a new hero in town!