Biography, Free eBooks

Educated: A Memoir by Tara Westover

Educated: A Memoir by Tara Westover
Educated A Memoir by Tara Westover

An unforgettable memoir about a young girl who, kept out of school, leaves her survivalist family and goes on to earn a PhD from Cambridge University

Educated – Born to survivalists in the mountains of Idaho, Tara Westover was seventeen the first time she set foot in a classroom. Her 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. When another brother got himself into college, Tara decided to try a new kind of life. 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.


“Beautiful and propulsive . . . Despite the singularity of [Tara Westover’s] childhood, the questions her book poses are universal: How much of ourselves should we give to those we love? And how much must we betray them to grow up?”—Vogue

“Westover has somehow managed not only to capture her unsurpassably exceptional upbringing, but to make her current situation seem not so exceptional at all, and resonant for many others.”—The New York Times Book Review

Book Review by Drew Mecham

In the interest of full disclosure, I’m the Drew from this book, and although Tara and I are no longer together I’ve met all of the key figures in this book on many occasions. Although I don’t have as intimate a knowledge of growing up in the Westover family as a sibling would, I observed first hand everything Tara describes in the third part of the book and heard many stories about earlier events, not just from Tara, but from siblings, cousins, and her parents themselves.

I find the claims of factual inaccuracy that have come up among these reviews to be strange for two reasons. First, in a post-James Frey (“A Million Little Pieces”) world, publishers are incredibly careful with memoirs and “Educated” was extensively fact checked before publication. Second, no one claiming factual inaccuracy can do so with any precision. While every Westover sibling, as well as their neighbors and friends, will have different perspectives and different memories, it is very difficult to dispute the core facts of this book. “Educated” is about abuse, and the way in which both abusers and their enablers distort reality for the victims.

It’s about the importance of gaining your own understanding of the world so you’re not dependent on the narratives imposed on you by others. I’ve heard Tara’s parents attack schools and universities, doctors and modern medicine, but more importantly, I’ve seen her parents work tirelessly to create a world where Shawn’s abuse was minimized or denied outright. I’ve seen them try to create a world where Tara was insane or possessed in order to protect a violent and unstable brother.

I was with her in Cambridge when Shawn was calling with death threats, then saw her mother completely trivialize the experience. For Tara’s parents, allegiance to the family is paramount, and allegiance to the family requires you to accept her father’s view of the world, where violence is acceptable and asking for change is a crime.

We also Recommend

Review

“Westover has somehow managed not only to capture her unsurpassably exceptional upbringing, but to make her current situation seem not so exceptional at all, and resonant for many others.”The New York Times Book Review

“Westover is a keen and honest guide to the difficulties of filial love, and to the enchantment of embracing a life of the mind.”The New Yorker

“An amazing story, and truly inspiring. It’s even better than you’ve heard.”—Bill Gates 

“Heart-wrenching . . . a beautiful testament to the power of education to open eyes and change lives.”—Amy Chua, The New York Times Book Review

“A coming-of-age memoir reminiscent of The Glass Castle.”O: The Oprah Magazine

“Westover’s one-of-a-kind memoir is about the shaping of a mind. . . . In briskly paced prose, she evokes a childhood that completely defined her. Yet it was also, she gradually sensed, deforming her.”The Atlantic

“Tara Westover is living proof that some people are flat-out, boots-always-laced-up indomitable. Her new book, Educated, is a heartbreaking, heartwarming, best-in-years memoir about striding beyond the limitations of birth and environment into a better life. . . . ★★★★ out of four.”USA Today

“[Educated] left me speechless with wonder. [Westover’s] lyrical prose is mesmerizing, as is her personal story, growing up in a family in which girls were supposed to aspire only to become wives—and in which coveting an education was considered sinful. Her journey will surprise and inspire men and women alike.”Refinery29

“Riveting . . . Westover brings readers deep into this world, a milieu usually hidden from outsiders. . . . Her story is remarkable, as each extreme anecdote described in tidy prose attests.”—The Economist

“A subtle, nuanced study of how dysfunction of any kind can be normalized even within the most conventional family structure, and of the damage such containment can do.”Financial Times

“Whether narrating scenes of fury and violence or evoking rural landscapes or tortured self-analysis, Westover writes with uncommon intelligence and grace. . . . One of the most improbable and fascinating journeys I’ve read in recent years.”—Newsday

Originally published: 20 February 2018

AuthorTara Westover

Original language: English

AwardsGoodreads Choice Awards Best Memoir & AutobiographyMORE

NominationsJohn Leonard PrizeNational Book Critics Circle Award for AutobiographyPEN/Jean Stein Book Award

Genres: Biography, Autobiography

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.