Educated: A Memoir Worth Reading

Educated is the life story of Tara Westover who never had any formal education until admitted to Brigham Young University.

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Educated is the life story of Tara Westover who never had any formal education until admitted to Brigham Young University.

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Educated by Tara Westover is a memoir published February 20, 2018 by Penguin Random House. Westover was born into a survivalist family and never had a formal education because of the isolated lifestyle her family believed in. A survivalist is someone who advocates or practices survivalism, which is someone who has prepared to survive in the case of an anticipated breakdown of society. Education was not the only thing her father did not allow.  He distrusted medical institutions, so she had never seen a doctor. They treated everything at home with herbalism.

She starts her memoir by telling readers she is the youngest of seven children and over time many of her siblings leave home. Tara and her family lived up on the side of a mountain away from most everyone else. They had to do everything for themselves and as more people left the more she had to take on more responsibilities in the family.

At first, it was helping her mom, who was a midwife and a herbalist, make medicines and assist with births. Then she went on to help her father with sorting scrap, which led to a lot of injuries. Her father didn’t believe in going to get medical help, no matter how serious the injury was,and this only make matters worse most of the time. An example of this is when Tara’s brother got caught on fire while working in the junkyard; he had severe burns to the lower half of his body. They never went to any hospitals or doctors and he could’ve died from infection.

After one of her older brothers got himself into college, he came home to tell them about the world. After that visit, Tara decided to teache herself enough to take the ACT. Her scores got her into Brigham Young University (BYU) where she studied psychology, politics, philosophy and history. After going to BYU, she went to Harvard and Cambridge University, where she earned a PhD in history.

While reading this book, I appreciated all the stories she told about her childhood that shaped her when she was younger. It was also interesting to me how being told something and being told what to believe at young age can really warp your worldview. For example, the very first line of the book is “My strongest memory is not a memory”, showing how being told something enough times will make you think it actually happened. She has grown up with this and a lot of other crazy things that made her who she was before she decided to leave home.

I also enjoyed how surreal the whole book was. At times I had to tell myself that this wasn’t fiction because of how crazy some of the events that happened were. For example, when they got into that car crash on the way home from visiting their grandparents, who were staying in Arizona at the time. The crash was horrible and there were even some fatal injuries, but nothing was done. They went home and continued as normal or as normal as they could since her mother had a very serious brain injury (she didn’t know that at the time though).

I would recommend this book to most people high school age and up because it brings to light the way other people can be raised not knowing what is going on in the world around them and how scary that can be for someone. There are some crazy and violent things that happen throughout the book that only people that can handle that should read. I would give Educated a 4 star rating because her story is told very well and all the stories adds to the impact of the book.