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Educated

A Memoir

by Tara Westover

Educated by Tara Westover X
Educated by Tara Westover
  • Critics' Opinion:

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  • First Published:
    Feb 2018, 352 pages

    Paperback:
    Feb 2022, 368 pages

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Book Reviewed by:
Rebecca Foster
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There are currently 14 reader reviews for Educated
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tiaunna

i read this as a 13 years old, loved it
This book is very sophisticated but also very clear, me and a couple of other people in my freshmen class read it and discussed it at the end of each chapter. I could not put this book down, this book made me feel all the emotions a book could make one feel. the story was super easy to follow and very interesting. I'm reading it again as a 17-year-old and it still has the same effect. The love I have for this book is hard to put into words. but if you think the story sounds interesting, you won't be disappointed, it only gets better.
Power Reviewer
Cathryn Conroy

The Best Way to Describe This Book: Shock and Awe
This is the best way to describe how I feel about this book: Shock and awe!

Author Tara Westover's life in the mountains of Idaho as the youngest child of a Mormon survivalist who shunned formal education—be it in a public school or homeschooling—shocked and angered me. And that isn't the only abuse Tara suffered. This little girl did a man's work in a junkyard under horrifically unsafe conditions. In addition, her older brother physically and painfully abused her for years, and their parents turned a blind eye to the violence in their own home. But score one for the human psyche. Somehow, Tara rose above all this and did the seemingly impossible at age 17: She went to college. On a scholarship. And with dogged determination she earned a Ph.D. from Cambridge University. But in changing her life so drastically, Tara was forced to make a choice no one should ever have to make: Education or a loving place in her family?

Tara Westover's shocking life story is nothing short of awe-inspiring. All of this is not a spoiler because WHAT happens is only secondary to how Tara responds to it. That is the real story and what makes this book so worth reading.

It's a good thing this is nonfiction because it would be absolutely unbelievable as a novel. It will grab your attention (and likely your heart) and not let go. This book is an absolutely riveting, all-consuming read that is beautifully written with intelligence and sympathy.
Michelle

Educated educates!
A story of family, love ,truth, tinctures, coming of age, feminism and mental health.
techeditor

You can believe this is true and important
For about the first half of EDUCATED, Tara Westover's autobiography, she describes the circumstances she grew up in. Her father was a survivalist who did not trust the government. So he didn't do things like register his cars or send his kids to public schools. Westover's mother made a stab at home schooling her seven children, but, to say the least, it was inadequate. Luckily, Westover's older brother taught her to read. Her father was also careless with his family's safety and didn't trust doctors or hospitals. So, when they were hurt, often as a result of his carelessness, the family depended on their mother's homeopathic remedies, even for severe burns and head injuries. Westover also had a dangerous brother who was defended and supported by both her parents.

With this background, Westover sought education, beginning with Brigham Young University. She had never even gone to high school much less graduated. But she got in when she was 16 after (pretty much) teaching herself enough to pass the ACT. (Her explanation of this doesn't sit well with me. My college in Michigan would never have let me in without examining my high school transcripts and diploma.) She soon discovered how ignorant she was of even the most well-known history such as the Holocaust and Martin Luther King's civil rights movements. But she learned as much as she could on her own and ended up impressing her professors enough to continue her education in spite of not being able to afford it. Westover kept going to various schools in the U.S. and abroad and now has her PhD in (of course) history.

Throughout the years she devoted to her education, Westover made annual trips to her home in Idaho. She wanted her parents' approval, but her father and, therefore, her mother insisted she was siding with the devil and needed to stop sinning and accept their reality, not hers. They have tried (and have been successful in most cases) to convince the rest of her family to stop associating with her until she admits she is wrong and her father is right.

Although I generally suspect that memoirs are written by people who incorrectly assume that their life story is important, in the case of EDUCATED, you can believe that it is. Also, I call this an autobiography in my first paragraph rather than a memoir because she has convinced me through her footnotes, Acknowledgements, and endnotes that it's all true.
Sadb

10/10 , would recommend
Is is very good.
Power Reviewer
Cloggie Downunder

a stunning read
“Learning in our family was entirely self-directed: you could learn anything you could teach yourself, after your work was done. Some of us were more disciplined than others. I was one of the least disciplined, so by the time I was ten, the only subject I had studied systematically was Morse code, because Dad insisted that I learn it. ‘If the lines are cut, we’ll be the only people in the valley who can communicate,’ he said, though I was never quite sure, if we were the only people learning it, who we’d be communicating with.”

Educated is a memoir by New York Times best-selling author, Tara Westover. Born into a Mormon family, Westover is raised in Buck Peak, Idaho by a father who has morphed from serious, physically impressive and independent-minded young man, to a man with (undiagnosed) bipolar disorder and paranoia about the Government and the Medical Establishment, who are clearly “Agents of the Devil”. Formal education results in getting “brainwashed by socialists and Illuminati spies”.

Her mother is a talented herbalist and an unregistered midwife, who initially believes in educating her children but acquiesces to her husband’s demands for practical skills. Their father instils in his family a deep mistrust of phones, doctors, any type of government documentation or registration, and his determination to be prepared for when the Feds come to get them; the threat of the coming Days of Abomination require the family to bottle fruit and put up preserves, and each prepare “head for the hills” bags.

When the third of her older brothers abandons the family, to go to college (against his father’s will), ten-year-old Tara is drafted into working in her father’s junkyard, where safety is left to God: “I tried to pry loose the small length of copper tubing. I almost had it when Dad flung a catalytic converter. I leapt aside, cutting my hand on the serrated edge of a punctured tank. I wiped the blood on my jeans and shouted, ‘Don’t throw them here! I’m here!’ Dad looked up, surprised. He’d forgotten I was there. When he saw the blood, he walked over to me and put a hand on my shoulder. ‘Don’t worry, honey,’ he said. ‘God is here, working right alongside us. He won’t let anything hurt you. But if you are hurt, then that is His will.’”

Where there are injuries, be they penetrative wounds or third-degree burns, the injured drag themselves to be treated with rescue remedy and herbals by their mother. “Mother always said that medical drugs are a special kind of poison, one that never leaves your body but rots you slowly from the inside for the rest of your life. She told me if I took a drug now, even if I didn’t have children for a decade, they would be deformed.”

As an adolescent, large in her life is a judgemental brother who revels in physical and mental cruelty, while an absent brother encourages Tara to take a qualifying exam for Brigham Young College, despite having never been to school. After she excels in academia, the former becomes the cause of a major rift in the family; the latter never fails to support.
While her father allows Tara to audition for musicals (love or pride?), his reaction to her decision to go to college is disapproval: “The Lord has called me to testify,” he said. “He is displeased. You have cast aside His blessings to whore after man’s knowledge. His wrath is stirred against you. It will not be long in coming” When she wins a Gates Cambridge Scholarship, he reminds her to credit her (non-existent) home schooling; as she boards the plane for England, his main concern is that he will be unable to bring her home to safety “when the End comes”.

Once she has gained academic qualifications, she comes to realise: “My life was narrated for me by others. Their voices were forceful, emphatic, absolute. It had never occurred to me that my voice might be as strong as theirs.”

It’s said that truth is often stranger than fiction; sometimes, what Westover described is so shocking, it is blackly funny: Having had a major motor vehicle accident during an all-night drive, causing his family multiple injuries, the following year, her father insists on another late-night interstate drive: “’Shouldn’t we drive slower?’ Mother asks. Dad grins. ‘I’m not driving faster than our angels can fly.’ The van is still accelerating. To fifty, then to sixty” with the inevitable, identical result.

Westover’s book will leave some readers incredulous that such families exist in modern times, and may beg the question: Given that public education is freely available, and that most would consider the provision of basic education the responsibility of every parent, and the right of every child, then is preventing one’s child from gaining this not child abuse? What Westover has achieved is nothing short of inspirational. A stunning read.
This unbiased review is from an uncorrected proof copy provided by NetGalley and Random House.
Char

Excellent - could not put it down.
This book was excellent; almost unbelievable. I was not sure if it really was a true story. I could not put it down!
Anl

Great read - easy to read
Loved this book. As I live close by and am familiar with the culture, I do not dispute any of it. I would love to know the author’s opinion as to why some are educated and some are not.

As a grown child of an abusive parent I applaud your decision for no contact. It was the best thing I ever did for me. And those around me.

I have read books that are quite similar - one in Alaska abusive parents, mother supported him, etc. “religious.”
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