Thoughts on, “Educated: A Memoir” by Tara Westover
Ladies, it can be so difficult to find time for ourselves, but if you love reading and want to be inspired by a resilient woman, this book is so worth your time. Educated: A Memoir by Tara Westover is an unflinching look at the author’s life in near-seclusion with a fanatical and abusive family. A life where there is no formal education and there are harsh ramifications to questioning the beliefs of the family patriarch. Westover explores the intensity of family loyalty and duty, and what happens to those when mental illness and emotional and physical abuse occur within the family. What does it mean to be wrenched loose from your family and become untethered in this world? It also speaks on the power of education to fundamentally shape the way we view the world, people, and government around us. This power is explored through both the informal education we receive in our family upbringing, as well as the formal education of traditional institutions of learning. What happens when one is provided but not the other, and what happens when they directly conflict?
The author pulled me into the story alongside her. I felt betrayed, raw and broken. I rooted for her, cheered her on, felt hopeless in the face of family betrayal and mental illness. Her story was unflinching and raw, hard to read at times. I wouldn’t have it any other way though, because that is what makes it real and powerful and so thought provoking that I have carried her story with me for months now. The determination, intelligence, and resiliency of the author are incredible. I highly recommend this book.
Here is a description taken from the publisher, Penguin Random House: “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 one’s closest 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.”
Ladies, if you’re ready for a thought-provoking, stay-with-you-for-months kind of read, go get this book. I’d love to hear back from you after you read it!
-Kristen M. Rodgers