“The decisions I made after that moment were not the ones she would have made. They were the choices of a changed person, a new self.
You could call this selfhood many things. Transformation. Metamorphosis. Falsity. Betrayal.
I call it an education.”
Tara Westover was one of the seven siblings born to the parents who followed a survivalist lifestyle. They were highly suspicious of the government and other public institutions. They home-schooled the siblings, never visited medical or other establishments and lived a secluded life in the mountains in Idaho. Tara didn’t even have a birth certificate until she was 9.
At 17, Tara took her education in her own hands and studied to enter college. She not only got accepted into Brigham Young University but also earned a full scholarship. At first, she experienced difficulty adjusting to mainstream society. Later, she went on to study at Cambridge and Harvard. Her quest for education and self-awareness caused her estrangement from her family.
Educated is a very fascinating and compelling story of a girl who grows up in a secluded world with a certain set of beliefs. Education enables her to learn more about the outside world and gain a different perspective. The book highlights the importance of education in empowering people to be rational and intellectually aware.
I enjoyed the writing style of the author. The description of the mountains, the unusual stories of her family was riveting. This is the first time I read about people who break away from the mainstream. I can’t imagine life without electricity, phone and other everyday things. I never knew some people intentionally choose to live that way. This book had me hooked right from the start and kept me invested in her world.
The author mentioned in her interviews that she could recall the past with such clarity because she has been writing journals ever since she was young. She describes her struggle with accepting new beliefs and learning a different way of life. I felt like I could connect to her story. The book is mostly about how education changed Tara’s world because of which she could not reconcile her new lifestyle with her parents’ extremist one.
Although this book describes the unconventional way of living, I felt it is more about living with a person with mental illness. It affects not only the sick but also the loved ones around them. Tara also talks a lot about the silent abuse she encountered in the family while growing up.
In Tara’s interviews, she states that one reason for writing this book was to tell the side of the story that her parents forced her to hide. I read that her parents hired a lawyer who claimed that the book falsely portrays the Westover family. I feel like her story is complex and different people experience the same things differently. But as far as the writing goes, I believe her.
What I’m about to say is not meant to discredit or disregard the author’s experiences. She is a smart and hardworking woman who went through a lot of struggles and created a new life for herself. But, there were some things I just couldn’t wrap my mind around.
First, Tara’s family encountered two accidents but survived them. It is difficult for me to reconcile this with the fact that her family never visited the hospital. I think Tara unknowingly exaggerated the enormity of the accidents. Next, most of the time she talks about an incident without giving a proper explanation. I wished she had maintained continuity throughout the book as the narrative gets broken off so abruptly.
Overall, this is a beautifully written, thought-provoking and inspiring memoir. Last year, Bill Gates had this book on his recommended list. That’s one more reason to give this book a read.
My Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
About The Author:
Tara Westover (born September 1986) is an American memoirist, essayist and historian. Her memoir “Educated” (2018) debuted at #1 on the New York Times bestseller list and was a finalist for several national awards. The New York Times named Educated as one of the 10 Best Books of 2018, and in a piece written by Bill Gates, Time Magazine chose Westover as one of the 100 most influential people of 2019.