Author: Tara Westover
Publisher: Random House UK
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.
Educated is a tale of struggle, resilience, and bravery from Tara and some of her siblings. There’s also so much betrayal and abuse in there too from Tara’s father – often to the point that it is sometimes hard to read. I just hate to think that someone can treat their own family this way, wondering at times if this can really be possible – but the fact that it is Tara Westover’s real life in the pages of this book just shows that, sadly, there is real evil in this world – but also some real light, too!
The support Tara got as she grew up is more uplifting and I liked learning about her life at the universities she attended. She’s incredibly naive at times and often quite hard to ‘work out’, but this all added to my interest in the book. I also really enjoyed reading about the Mormon faith – I still don’t feel like I know that much about the faith because, even with my limited knowledge, I can tell that no one could think that the Westover family is a ‘typical’ Mormon family!
It’s an inspiring read, and for someone like me who generally enjoyed school and spends a lot of time reading, it’s crazy to think some children aren’t given the same opportunities from a young age and are even blocked from accessing education by those who are supposed to care and love them.
Educated is definitely a thought-provoking and unusual read, and one I would recommend.
Many thanks to the publisher for providing a copy of this novel on which I chose to write an honest and unbiased review.