Friday, August 3, 2018

Educated by Tara Westover

I heard so many good things about this book that as soon as I saw that the NLB had an ecopy, I placed a hold on it. And all the rave reviews were true - this did not disappoint.

Educated is the memoir of Tara Westover. She was raised by a paranoid father who saw government conspiracies and a mother who drifted into alternative healing (oddly enough, her mother never indicated that chakras and essential oils were incompatible with Mormonism).

Due to this unusual family dynamic, Tara never went to school or even socialised much with people her age. Luckily, she had an amazing voice and brothers who managed to go to university, which gave her a longing for the wider world. So although she was afraid that her actions would betray her family, she started teaching herself to read.

This book was simply absorbing and I couldn’t put it down. Tara and her brother Tyler are amazing for the way they managed to gain an education. But the ways that her family stayed trapped was heartbreaking, especially the way they let her older brother Shawn rule the family with his temper. Their emotional manipulation was really off the charts and my heart broke whenever I saw Tara doubt herself.

This book was also a hopeful one because I saw how people would come to Tara’s aid when she needed it most. People that stood out were her bishop in her ward, who gave her a space to talk it out and got her monetary support, as well as the various professors who recognised her academic talent and encouraged her.

Oh yeah, and even though Tara and her community are all Mormon, this book isn’t about really about religion. While Tara does struggle with some tenets of her faith, she never explicitly casts it off, instead impartially talking about the Mormons and non-Mormons who helped her. It’s clear that religion wasn’t the sole or even main reason for her childhood (though it did play a big part) - her dad’s mental illness probably was.

I would highly, highly recommend this book. It is an amazingly well-written read about how one woman managed to overcome her childhood with the support of people in her life. And do you know what I want to read next? Her PhD thesis. It sounds fascinating.


  1. I've been debating about reading this book. I didn't want to get into something religious cult-like. Hmmm... Still thinking about it...

    1. If it helps, it wasn't as religious as I thought (but then again, I have an extremely high tolerance).

  2. My mom was reading this one recently. I should ask her what she thought of it. I hadn't known much about it before reading your review though. It sounds interesting. I so rarely read memoirs these days, but this one sounds worth diving into.


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