Educated: A Memoir by Tara Westover
Published: February 20, 2018
Publisher: Random House
Rating: 5 stars
Recommend to fans of: memoirs about strong women, surviving difficult childhoods, family dynamics
Read with food: home canned peaches ~ commonly made in Tara’s family and even taken with to her journey to college
Tara Westover grew up preparing for the End of Days, watching for the sun to darken, for the moon to drip as if with blood. She spent her summers bottling peaches and her winters rotating emergency supplies, hoping that when the World of Men failed, her family would continue on, unaffected.
She hadn’t been registered for a birth certificate. She had no school records because she’d never set foot in a classroom, and no medical records because her father didn’t believe in doctors or hospitals. According to the state and federal government, she didn’t exist.
As she grew older, her father became more radical, and her brother, more violent. At sixteen Tara decided to educate herself. Her struggle for knowledge would take her far from her Idaho mountains, over oceans and across continents, to Harvard and to Cambridge. Only then would she wonder if she’d travelled 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 the severing of the closest of ties. With the acute insight that distinguishes all great writers, Westover has, from her singular experience, crafted a universal coming-of-age story, one 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.
A head’s up from the beginning, trigger warning for abuse and gaslighting.
We are all educated. Many people through formal education in public and private primary schools and then universities across the country. Some are homeschooled, in which the quality of education depends on the quality of the teacher. All of us are educated by our life experiences. Our day to day experiences, shaped by the people who surround us or we choose to surround ourselves with. When we are children our education is largely dictated by our schools, extracurricular activities, various adults in our lives, our friends, but above all else our parents. When our parents don’t believe in sending their children to schools of any kind, choosing to very poorly and infrequently educate the children, you get stories like Tara’s.
Tara was lucky in that she was smart, shown the way to self educate from other family members, and while discouraged, was not denied access to higher education. Her life was anything but easy or typical. She grew up in the mountains with a mentally unstable and abusive father, passive mothers, and siblings. Her childhood was filled with abuse of various sorts and so much emotional manipulation that it took her years to sort it out.
I was absolutely engaged in this book the entire time. Even attempting to read it while I had a migraine, which was probably the last thing I should have been doing. Tara is an inspiration.
There are so many life lessons one can take away from the book. Ignore the toxic people in your life. Get out. Don’t let them dictate what you will or won’t do. Also, it’s okay to ask for and accept help. It means you’re strong. We can’t do it all on our own, and we shouldn’t have to. You don’t need to cover up the abuse that other people did. Share what you feel comfortable, but don’t let the people silence your truth.
Wow! I’ve had a lot to say about Educated. The story is so powerful. I highly suggest that you all read it.
Random Question of the Post:
What’s the best moment so far this weekend?