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
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