Genres: Memoir & Autobiography, Non-fiction
by Random House
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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 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.
I received this book for free in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.
I heard so many things about Educated before publication, and I was itching to get my hands on it. There were so many comparisons to The Glass Castle, which is one of my favorite books, so I was definitely looking forward to reading it. I am glad to say that I was not let down AT ALL by the book, it was so well written and so emotional.
“To admit uncertainty is to admit to weakness, to powerlessness, and to believe in yourself despite both. It is a frailty, but in this frailty there is a strength: the conviction to live in your own mind, and not in someone else’s.”
The writing was very lyrical and descriptive, which I ultimately enjoyed. At first I thought it was a little too much, but the further into the story I got the more I enjoyed the writing style.
I really enjoyed how honest she was about her struggle to be herself and learn how to be okay with cutting out family members. It hurt me to read about how her abusive brother treated her, and how family members turned against her because she didn’t give in to her family’s beliefs. Some parts were so difficult to read, and I can’t imagine going through some of the things she went through.
“It happens sometimes in families: one child who doesn’t fit, whose rhythm is off, whose meter is set to the wrong tune.”
Westover was also very honest about her ignorance growing up. There were some things I was baffled by (not knowing what the Holocaust was, or the Civil Rights Movement), but by learning about her life it makes sense, even though it’s so sad.
My mind was also blown when reading the passages about her family preparing for the end of the world. They had a bunker, they collected ridiculous amounts of guns, they had enough peach preserves to last YEARS, and gas to live off of. I couldn’t believe that some of the things I was reading about were real!
Overall this was a very well written book, from a point of view we don’t see much of. I enjoyed the story even though it was so difficult for the author, and I thank her for sharing parts of her life with us readers. I definitely recommend this book to anyone who enjoys memoirs or enjoyed The Glass Castle.
Have you read Educated yet? If so, what did you think of it?
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