As I try to keep some distance between myself and the constant political outrage on Facebook, I’m trying to come up with positive alternatives. It occurs to me that if people spent more time reading actual books instead of the rantings of fanatical folks who want to tell us what we should think, we might be a whole lot better off. As an author of fiction, my number one goal is to entertain readers by telling a compelling story. Part of doing that, I believe, is to set up conflicts between “good and evil” that reflect to some degree what “real people” faced in the historical setting in which my books are set. In the real world, good people don’t always win nor do they always make the best choices. Hopefully, they learn from their mistakes, grow as human beings and persevere. In addition to telling a compelling story, another goal I have as an author is to tell a story that encourages readers to think for themselves, to assess and evaluate information before concluding what is the best pathway forward. I just finished a gripping and inspirational book that excels in this regard.
Tara Westover’s autobiography, Educated, tells of her struggles to discover the world beyond the narrow confines of her survivalist, isolated family in the mountains of Idaho.  It is a brutally honest, painful and loving story.  She grew up without medical care, without public education (and with very little homeschooling) but she made the decision to strike out into the broader world. She educated herself so that she could pass the ACT (NO mean feat!) and attended undergraduate school. She worked so hard and was so incredibly brilliant that she was awarded scholarships to both Cambridge and Harvard. She earned a Ph.D. in history. Throughout this whole process, she struggled to learn about the world while attempting to maintain her relationships with her family, whom she loved in spite of the incredible dysfunction, without losing her self in the process. You cannot fail to be inspired by this book. Also, after reading this book, when you start to feel sorry for yourself because of whatever minor trials and tribulations you’re experiencing on any particular day, you’ll slap yourself and say “get over it!” This girl was/is TOUGH! That’s the kind of stuff we should be reading, NOT people’s silly rants on Facebook (he says as he posts this on Facebook. 😉 )

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