I am not much into reading memoirs but everyone seemed to be raving about ‘Educated’ by Tara Westover and so I knew I had to pick it up. These days I am more driven by picking up books which have glowing recommendations so that I don’t end up reading trash. This not always works as desired because it’s not necessary that you will like a book just because others have liked it. Anyways, I am so glad I read ‘Educated’. It’s so inspiring, so unbelievable and so terrifying in parts.
Educated is a tale of hope & perseverance and a record of horror & abuse. Tara Westover is a bright woman, a gifted writer and a Cambridge PhD but what makes her life story fascinating and inspiring is the struggle of her early life. She was the youngest of seven children born to Gene and Faye Westover, who were fundamentalist mormons living in rural Idaho. Her dad distrusted the government and so wanted little to do with education and healthcare services. Major medical crises went untreated (be it the brain injury that her mother suffered in a car accident or the severe burn injuries that her father suffered). Tara and her siblings worked at their father’s junkyard from a young age. Leave aside formal education, none of them even received proper homeschooling. As a result, she didn’t step foot in a classroom until she was 17. She self-studied and managed to get admission to Brigham Young University. Eventually, she earned her doctorate in intellectual history from Cambridge University.
Tara’s educational journey was interesting but some of it was baffling too. It was unbelievable that someone studying at a University didn’t know about ‘the holocaust’. It was really frustrating to see how her father treated the children and even her mother didn’t support her quest for education. Equally appalling was the physical and emotional abuse she went through. The book is gloomy and wearisome at times and you can’t help sympathizing with the fragile Tara who desperately seeks validation from her family. But then Tara is the living proof that transformation is possible. Tara calls that ‘an education’. Her courage to get an education inspite of all odds is inspiring.
The author’s writing is beautiful. But what makes the book stand apart is Tara’s drive for a better life. She has beautifully captured her process of self discovery. Her drive and determination is admirable. I don’t think I can do a proper justice to the review other than telling everyone to must, must READ THIS BOOK!
My Rating: 5/5
P.S. I listened to Educated as an audio book on Audible and absolutely loved the narration by Julia Whelan.
Author: Tara Westover
Publisher: Penguin Random House LLC.
Awards: Audie Award for Best Female Narrator (2019)
Genres: Memoir, Autobiography
Originally published: 20 February 2018
Page Count: 334
©2020 Shaloo Walia All rights reserved
I loved this book, too. Her story is compelling and shines a spotlight on some significant issues in our educational and social service systems. My alma mater chooses “One Book” every year for the university community to read, and Educated is next year’s. I think many of the freshmen students who read it will be shocked that her situation exists in our country; I fear her story, while perhaps not widespread, is also not unique.
For me, it certainly came as a shock. Tara’s parents are totally unbelievable. It was hard to believe that such orthodox people exist in developed countries too.
I don’t read nonfiction; least so biographies. But I like the way your review is crisp not giving out much yet capturing the important bits.
I am not much fan of non-fiction either but this memoir was just something else. You will have to read it to understand what I mean.
I’ve read a few books like this–lousy childhood turns into stunningly achieving adult–and always enjoy them. There’s no metric for success that always works, is there.
It’s inspiring how some people make it big inspite of all odds.
Great review! 🙂 This one’s on our local book club’s reading list…
Thanks… I hope you enjoyed reading this memoir as much as I did!