Author: Tara Westover
First published February 20, 2018
352 pages, Hardcover
Tara Westover’s life began in the mountains of Idaho, raised by survivalist parents. She spent her childhood preparing for the end of the world and tending to her mother’s herbalist remedies.
With no access to mainstream education or medical care, Tara’s upbringing was far from typical. But when she decided to educate herself, her life took an unexpected turn.
She taught herself enough to gain admission to Brigham Young University, where she discovered a whole new world. With a thirst for knowledge and a determination to succeed, Tara’s journey took her across continents to study at Harvard and Cambridge.
Her inspiring story is one of resilience, family loyalty, and the transformative power of education. Tara’s memoir is a universal coming-of-age story that will make you see your life through new eyes and inspire you to embrace change.
About the Author
Tara Westover, a talented American author, currently resides in the UK. Growing up in Idaho, her father didn’t believe in public education, so she never got the chance to attend school like most children.
Instead, she spent her days working in her father’s junkyard or helping her mother, who was a self-taught herbalist and midwife. It wasn’t until she turned seventeen that she stepped foot into a classroom for the first time, and from that moment on, she felt a deep desire to learn.
Over the next ten years, she worked hard and earned a BA from Brigham Young University in 2008. Thanks to her impressive academic achievements, she was awarded a Gates Cambridge Scholarship and went on to gain an MPhil from Trinity College, Cambridge in 2009.
She was also recognized as a visiting fellow at Harvard University in 2010. Eventually, she returned to Cambridge, where she earned a PhD in history in 2014.
Educated by Tara Westover is a memoir that explores the author’s journey from a sheltered and abusive childhood in rural Idaho to earning a PhD from Cambridge University. Published in 2018, the book quickly became a bestseller and received critical acclaim for its powerful storytelling and emotional resonance.
Westover’s memoir is a coming-of-age story that is both harrowing and inspiring. Raised by strict and religious parents who reject formal education, Westover and her siblings are denied access to schools and medical care.
Instead, they are taught to prepare for the end of the world and to distrust the government and mainstream society. As a result, Westover’s childhood is marked by physical and emotional abuse, as well as dangerous work on her father’s junkyard.
Despite these challenges, Westover is determined to educate herself and escape the narrow confines of her upbringing. She teaches herself math and grammar, and eventually goes on to attend Brigham Young University, where she confronts the realities of her family’s abuse and neglect.
From there, she goes on to earn a PhD from Cambridge University, but not without facing further obstacles and betrayals.
Westover’s memoir is a powerful exploration of the human capacity for resilience and transformation. It is also an indictment of the dangers of extremist beliefs and the importance of education and critical thinking.
Through her vivid and evocative prose, Westover invites readers to experience her journey of self-discovery and to confront their own assumptions about identity, family, and the world around them.
One of the strengths of Educated is Westover’s ability to create complex and compelling characters. Her family members are portrayed with empathy and nuance, even as their actions are often abhorrent.
Through her vivid descriptions and introspective reflections, Westover allows readers to understand the motivations and fears that drive her family’s behavior, even as she acknowledges the harm that they inflict.
Another strength of the memoir is Westover’s attention to detail and pacing. The book is structured around a series of vignettes that are arranged thematically, creating a cohesive narrative that is both suspenseful and engaging.
Westover’s prose is often lyrical and evocative, capturing the beauty and brutality of her surroundings with equal precision.
At the same time, there are some weaknesses to the book. Some readers may find the graphic descriptions of abuse and violence to be overwhelming or triggering.
Additionally, while Westover’s journey is undeniably inspiring, there are moments when the memoir feels overly self-congratulatory or simplistic in its conclusions.
Overall, Educated is a powerful and important memoir that deserves its place on bestseller lists and bookshelves. It is a testament to the transformative power of education and the human spirit, even in the face of immense obstacles.
Readers who are interested in memoirs, coming-of-age stories, or explorations of family dynamics and trauma will find much to appreciate in this book.