Published by Random House Publishing Genres: Adult, Memoir
Tara Westover was 17 the first time she set foot in a classroom. Born to survivalists in the mountains of Idaho, she prepared for the end of the world by stockpiling home-canned peaches and sleeping with her "head-for-the-hills bag". In the summer she stewed herbs for her mother, a midwife and healer, and in the winter she salvaged in her father's junkyard.
Her father forbade hospitals, so Tara never saw a doctor or nurse. Gashes and concussions, even burns from explosions, were all treated at home with herbalism. The family was so isolated from mainstream society that there was no one to ensure the children received an education and no one to intervene when one of Tara's older brothers became violent.
Then, lacking any formal education, Tara began to educate herself. She taught herself enough mathematics and grammar to be admitted to Brigham Young University, where she studied history, learning for the first time about important world events like the Holocaust and the civil rights movement. Her quest for knowledge transformed her, taking her over oceans and across continents, to Harvard and to Cambridge. Only then would she wonder if she'd traveled too far, if there was still a way home.
Educated is an account of the struggle for self-invention. It is a tale of fierce family loyalty and of the grief that comes with severing the closest of ties. With the acute insight that distinguishes all great writers, Westover has crafted a universal coming-of-age story that gets to the heart of what an education is and what it offers: the perspective to see one's life through new eyes and the will to change it.
How many of you are educated? Can you imagine being denied an education? Something many of us take for granted, I know. Educated tells the story of a girl who was denied her right to an education. A girl who grew up fearing the government and, to a large extent, her own father. It’s also the story of how this girl persevered in order to earn the education she longed for despite the cost, and I don’t mean monetarily.
Tara Westover’s story of being educated is disturbing, thought-provoking, and inspiring. Growing up in a Mormon family, in rural Idaho, she believed she didn’t have many options in life. She believed she’d marry, have kids, and live on a piece of her father’s land. But she longed for more, yet felt there was something wrong with her for wanting more. Luckily for her, she had a brother who encouraged her to reach for her dreams.
Educated is beautifully rendered in almost lyrical prose. Westover’s talent is undeniable. Her story is not always easy to read. She dealt with fear and violence in her home. She dealt with the threat of estrangement for desiring an education. She fought with all she had to keep her family together while following her dreams. And why should following your dreams cost a person their family?
In the end, I admired Westover for her tenacity as well as her resilience. I also commend her for telling her story. It made my heart ache for her but I found her story inspirational as well.