Join BookBrowse today and get access to free books, our twice monthly digital magazine, and more.

Reviews of Educated by Tara Westover

Educated

A Memoir

by Tara Westover

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

    Readers' Opinion:

  • First Published:
    Feb 2018, 352 pages

    Paperback:
    Feb 2022, 368 pages

    Genres

  • Rate this book


Book Reviewed by:
Rebecca Foster
Buy This Book

About this Book

Book Summary

Winner of the 2018 BookBrowse Nonfiction Award

An unforgettable memoir about a young girl who, kept out of school, leaves her survivalist family and goes on to earn a PhD from Cambridge University.

Tara Westover was seventeen 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 metal in her father's junkyard.

Her father distrusted the medical establishment, 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 an older brother became violent.

When another brother got himself into college and came back with news of the world beyond the mountain, Tara decided to try a new kind of life. She taught herself enough mathematics, grammar, and science to take the ACT and was admitted to Brigham Young University. There, she studied psychology, politics, philosophy, and history, learning for the first time about pivotal 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 University. 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 from severing ties with those closest to you. 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.

Chapter 1
Choose the Good

My strongest memory is not a memory. It's something I imagined, then came to remember as if it had happened. The memory was formed when I was five, just before I turned six, from a story my father told in such detail that I and my brothers and sister had each conjured our own cinematic version, with gunfire and shouts. Mine had crickets. That's the sound I hear as my family huddles in the kitchen, lights off, hiding from the Feds who've surrounded the house. A woman reaches for a glass of water and her silhouette is lighted by the moon. A shot echoes like the lash of a whip and she falls. In my memory it's always Mother who falls, and she has a baby in her arms. The baby doesn't make sense - I'm the youngest of my mother's seven children - but like I said, none of this happened.

A year after my father told us that story, we gathered one evening to hear him read aloud from Isaiah, a prophecy about Immanuel. He sat on our ...

Please be aware that this discussion guide will contain spoilers!
  1. Many of Tara's father's choices have an obvious impact on Tara's life, but how did her mother's choices influence her? How did that change over time?
  2. Tara's brother Tyler tells her to take the ACT. What motivates Tara to follow his advice?
  3. Charles was Tara's first window into the outside world. Under his influence, Tara begins to dress differently and takes medicine for the first time. Discuss Tara's conflicting admiration for both Charles and her father.
  4. Tara has titled her book Educated and much of her education takes place in classrooms, lectures, or other university environments. But not all. What other important moments of "education" were there? What friends, acquaintances, or experiences had ...
Membership Advantages
  • Reviews
  • "Beyond the Book" articles
  • Free books to read and review (US only)
  • Find books by time period, setting & theme
  • Read-alike suggestions by book and author
  • Book club discussions
  • and much more!
  • Just $45 for 12 months or $15 for 3 months.
  • More about membership!
  • award image

    BookBrowse Awards
    2018

Reviews

BookBrowse Review

BookBrowse

Westover's incredible story is about testing the limits of perseverance and sanity. Her father may have been a survivalist, but her psychic survival is the most impressive outcome here. Although this memoir represents Westover's own perspective, she strives to be rational and charitable by questioning her own memory and interpretation of events, often looking for outside confirmation from other family members who witnessed the same events. This is one of the most powerful and well-written memoirs I've ever read...continued

Full Review (807 words)

This review is available to non-members for a limited time. For full access, become a member today.

(Reviewed by Rebecca Foster).

Media Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Starred Review. Westover's vivid prose makes this saga of the pressures of conformity and self-assertion that warp a family seem both terrifying and ordinary.

Kirkus Reviews
An astonishing account of deprivation, confusion, survival, and success.

Library Journal
Explicit descriptions of abuse can make for difficult reading, but for a student who started from a point of near illiteracy, Westover's writing is lyrical and literary in style. With no real comparison memoir, this joins the small number of Mormon exposés of recent years.

Author Blurb Amy Chua, Yale law professor and author of Political Tribes and Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother
Breathtaking, heart-wrenching, inspirational - I've never read anything like this.

Author Blurb J. D. Vance, author of Hillbilly Elegy
Educated shines a light on a part of our country that we too often overlook.

Author Blurb Susannah Cahalan, author of Brain on Fire
Tara's story will find a place alongside modern classic memoirs like Wild and The Glass Castle. It's that special

Reader Reviews

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 ...   Read More
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...   Read More
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 ...   Read More

Write your own review!

Membership Advantages
  • Reviews
  • "Beyond the Book" articles
  • Free books to read and review (US only)
  • Find books by time period, setting & theme
  • Read-alike suggestions by book and author
  • Book club discussions
  • and much more!
  • Just $45 for 12 months or $15 for 3 months.
  • More about membership!

Beyond the Book

Herbalism

Educated author Tara Westover's Idaho family runs Butterfly Express, a successful business selling essential oils and other herbal remedies. Her mother, LaRee Westover, trains herbalists and is the author of a book on herbalism, Butterfly Miracles with Essential Oils. Throughout her childhood, Westover was treated with foraged herbs instead of pharmaceuticals. "For as long as I could remember, whenever I was in pain, whether from a cut or a toothache, Mother would make a tincture of lobelia and skullcap," she writes. "It had never lessened the pain, not one degree. Because of this, I had come to respect pain, even revere it, as necessary and untouchable." It wasn't until she was in college that she tried painkiller pills for the first time....

This "beyond the book" feature is available to non-members for a limited time. Join today for full access.

Membership Advantages
  • Reviews
  • "Beyond the Book" articles
  • Free books to read and review (US only)
  • Find books by time period, setting & theme
  • Read-alike suggestions by book and author
  • Book club discussions
  • and much more!
  • Just $45 for 12 months or $15 for 3 months.
  • More about membership!

Read-Alikes

Read-Alikes Full readalike results are for members only

If you liked Educated, try these:

  • Waiting for the Monsoon jacket

    Waiting for the Monsoon

    by Rod Nordland

    Published 2024

    About this book

    A legendary New York Times war correspondent delivers his unforgettable final dispatch: a deeply moving meditation on life inspired by his sudden battle with terminal brain cancer.

  • Hollywood Park jacket

    Hollywood Park

    by Mikel Jollett

    Published 2022

    About this book

    Hollywood Park is a remarkable memoir of a tumultuous life. Mikel Jollett was born into one of the country's most infamous cults, and subjected to a childhood filled with poverty, addiction, and emotional abuse. Yet, ultimately, his is a story of fierce love and family loyalty told in a raw, poetic voice that signals the emergence of a uniquely ...

We have 15 read-alikes for Educated, but non-members are limited to two results. To see the complete list of this book's read-alikes, you need to be a member.
Search read-alikes
How we choose read-alikes
Membership Advantages
  • Reviews
  • "Beyond the Book" articles
  • Free books to read and review (US only)
  • Find books by time period, setting & theme
  • Read-alike suggestions by book and author
  • Book club discussions
  • and much more!
  • Just $45 for 12 months or $15 for 3 months.
  • More about membership!

Support BookBrowse

Join our inner reading circle, go ad-free and get way more!

Find out more


Top Picks

  • Book Jacket: Song of the Six Realms
    Song of the Six Realms
    by Judy I. Lin
    Xue'er has no place in the kingdom of Qi or any of the Six Realms. Her name means "Solitary Snow" ...
  • Book Jacket: The Demon of Unrest
    The Demon of Unrest
    by Erik Larson
    In the aftermath of the 1860 presidential election, the divided United States began to collapse as ...
  • Book Jacket: Daughters of Shandong
    Daughters of Shandong
    by Eve J. Chung
    Daughters of Shandong is the debut novel of Eve J. Chung, a human rights lawyer living in New York. ...
  • Book Jacket: Anita de Monte Laughs Last
    Anita de Monte Laughs Last
    by Xochitl Gonzalez
    Brooklyn-based novelist Xochitl Gonzalez is an inspiring writer to follow. At forty, she decided to ...

BookBrowse Book Club

Book Jacket
Romantic Comedy
by Curtis Sittenfeld
A comedy writer's stance on love shifts when a pop star challenges her assumptions in this witty and touching novel.

Members Recommend

  • Book Jacket

    This Strange Eventful History
    by Claire Messud

    An immersive, masterful story of a family born on the wrong side of history.

  • Book Jacket

    The Stolen Child
    by Ann Hood

    An unlikely duo ventures through France and Italy to solve the mystery of a child’s fate.

Win This Book
Win Only the Brave

Only the Brave by Danielle Steel

A powerful, sweeping historical novel about a courageous woman in World War II Germany.

Enter

Wordplay

Solve this clue:

F T a T

and be entered to win..

Your guide toexceptional          books

BookBrowse seeks out and recommends the best in contemporary fiction and nonfiction—books that not only engage and entertain but also deepen our understanding of ourselves and the world around us.