I was asked by some of my Instagram friends in one of my “getting to know me Q&A’s” what book have I read that changed my life? Well, that was a hard question because different books have different kinds of impacts and it is always so hard to pick one. However, Tara Westover’s memoir entitled “Educated” is a new book I only recently read but it is one I will remember for a very long time.
Educated is Tara Westover’s first book.
Educated by Tara Westover
Overview : Spoiler Alert – Medium
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.
– Synopsis taken from the book
Review : Spoiler Alert – Low
“On the highway below, the school bus rolls past without stopping. I am only 7, but I understand that it is this fact more than any other that makes my family different. We don’t go to school.”
Educated is an eye opening, powerful memoir that is sometimes difficult to read, but impossible to put down. Tara knew her family was different. They didn’t go to school, they didn’t believe in modern medicine, they had no driver’s licenses, no insurance of any kind, and the younger children didn’t even have birth certificates. Her parent’s were Idaho survivalists, who were skewed in their views, wanted nothing to do with the government, and they were just extreme in every sense of the word. Her family and her relationship with them, was extremely dysfunctional.
Educated is about a girl who was torn between wanting to stay loyal to her family despite their dysfunction, wanting to find her own place in the world, and get an “education”.
Commentary : Spoiler Alert – Low
The beauty of memoirs is that it gives us a glimpse into how other people who share this world with us are living. Sometimes we find similarities, things we can we relate to, and other times we see how vastly different their experiences are from our own. My hope, as always, is that by seeing the world through different eyes we are able to be less judgmental, and more understanding of others.
Educated by Tara Westover opened my eyes to a world I never even knew existed. It took me to a place that is often overlooked by “outsiders” – It took me inside rural America. While I believe, through my interpretation and by the authors own admission – this book should not be used to make a judgment on religion, Mormonism, survivalist or even rural families. I think more than anything it highlighted how things can become toxic, and bad when it is done in extremes.
I don’t want to give away too many spoilers. Just know, this book does not sugar coat anything, and there is no real happy ending. It is just a book you must read.
Without a doubt, this is a book I will never forget, I recommend it wholeheartedly and I know it will be one of my top books for 2018.