Educated by Tara Westover has spent many weeks on the New York Times Bestseller List, and for good reason. It is a thought-provoking, unique coming of age memoir which is at times hard to read, because the content is disturbing. Yet at the same time, it is very interesting and I couldn’t put it down because after meeting Tara, I felt invested in her life and had to find out how her life turned out. I never read Nonfiction books, but I am very glad I read this one. It’s definitely a story that will stick with me a long time and I highly recommend it.
Tara Westover didn’t step foot in a proper school classroom until she was 17 years old. She was born in the deep woods of Idaho to a survivalist group and she was never allowed to go to school because he parents didn’t trust any sort of government systems. They never even got birth certificates for Tara or any of her siblings, choosing to have them at home and not register them with the government. This would make things very difficult when Tara would later take it upon herself to take charge of her education and try to get into college. A birth certificate is essential when applying for such things. Furthermore, she never saw a doctor or nurse for any injury or ailment, because her mother was a midwife and healer, doling out natural herb remedies for the family and others in the survivalist community. Tara spent her childhood working for both of her parents. She worked in the dangerous junkyard owned by her father, salvaging metal and trying to dodge the angry outbursts and mood swings of both her brother and father. She also stewed herbs, canned and stockpiled peaches, and assisted her mother with births.
Tara’s father’s extremist beliefs, irrational distrust of others, and impulsive actions are deplorable and hard to wrap your head around as outsiders looking in on her life. Well, spoiler alert, Tara does thankfully get away from the unhealthy, dangerous survivalist roots of her childhood and makes something of herself. Despite the fierce loyalty she feels to her family and the grief at severing ties with them, she is able to move on with a somewhat more normal life.
After studying and teaching herself enough to pass the ACT, she is accepted into Brigham Young University. From there she goes on to Harvard and then Cambridge, never quite satisfying her insatiable thirst for knowledge. But will she ever really feel at home anywhere? Does she belong in Idaho, working alongside her family in their businesses, secluded from the rest of society?
Educated is a unique and fascinating story which will leave readers with an ever-increasing gratitude for education and “normal” family bonds. I hope you’ll enjoy it as much as I did.
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