Educated: a memoir Book Review

Book Cover of Educated: a memoirEducated is the autobiography of Tara Westover. She is the youngest child of seven. Tara grew up in Idaho and her upbringing is a major part of Educated. One could say Tara was home-schooled, but she would probably not agree. By the time Tara was born, the Westover family no longer even registered births. Schooling was haphazard at best.

Most of the names used in the book are pseudonyms. But the people are real. This true story of a dysfunctional family is riveting. Tara manages to survive both physically and mentally. Indeed, one could say she now thrives, even if only looking at her educational accomplishments. But she writes with a sense of peace in the latter chapters giving hope to a thriving psyche as well.

While the Westover family is Mormon, this is not a book per say about the religion. This particular family held themselves apart. Indeed the father felt most Mormons were sinners because they did not adhere to his beliefs of the teachings. Thus, the family remained isolated even from church members, community, and other family members.

In some ways, other religions come to mind. The Westover’s did not seek any medical treatment regardless the seriousness of injury or illness. Many injuries occur throughout the book. Indeed, Tara did not receive any immunizations until at college. An integral part of Educated ties into the fact that only herbal treatments were allowed.

Domestic Violence

Unfortunately for Tara, the women in the family were physically abused. Anytime she pushed the envelope pain would be inflicted. Most often by one of her brothers. This type of control was hard to fight. Her Mother does gain some strengths over the course of time, but never to the extent that she provides a haven for Tara.

Fortunately an older brother Tyler, breaks away and pursues a degree at Brigham Young University. He has formed a new life and later she realizes she can too. Much of Educated revolves around the desire to escape. But there is always a part of Tara that fears losing family.

Educated equals Escape

This conflict makes up a great portion of the memoir. Tara wants to be educated. She wants to learn, but she also wants to be loved. In the end, the thirst for knowledge wins out. The family is divided for the most part between those who are educated and those who are not. For Tara, this division of family is painful and she feels guilt. Getting beyond the blame game finally frees Tara Westover.

Tara Westover does an amazing job of sharing her upbringing. She is matter of fact. The hardscrabble life remains vivid as if I experienced growing up on Buck’s Peak myself. Westover is inspiring. Educated is inspiring. This is one of the best autobiographies I have ever read. Find a copy, read it, and share with anyone who needs some inspiration.