Educated by Tara Westover
Publish Date : 2/20/2018
Rating : ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
I received a copy of Educated from Netgalley and Random House in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own.
Summary from Goodreads:
Tara Westover was seventeen the first time she set foot in a classroom. Born to survivalists in the mountains of Idaho, she prepared for the end of the world by stockpiling home-canned peaches and sleeping with her “head-for-the-hills bag.” In the summer she stewed herbs for her mother, a midwife and healer, and in the winter she salvaged in her father’s junkyard.
Her father forbade hospitals, so Tara never saw a doctor or nurse. Gashes and concussions, even burns from explosions, were all treated at home with herbalism. The family was so isolated from mainstream society that there was no one to ensure the children received an education, and no one to intervene when one of Tara’s older brothers became violent.
Then, lacking any formal education, Tara began to educate herself. She taught herself enough mathematics and grammar to be admitted to Brigham Young University, where she studied history, learning for the first time about important world events like the Holocaust and the civil rights movement. Her quest for knowledge transformed her, taking her over oceans and across continents, to Harvard and to Cambridge. Only then would she wonder if she’d traveled too far, if there was still a way home.
Educated is an account of the struggle for self-invention. It is a tale of fierce family loyalty, and of the grief that comes with severing the closest of ties. With the acute insight that distinguishes all great writers, Westover has crafted a universal coming-of-age story that gets to the heart of what an education is and what it offers: the perspective to see one’s life through new eyes, and the will to change it.
I don’t pick up memoirs often unless if its a memoir of someone I know or somene historically famous. I picked this book up because let’s face it, it was called Educated and I’m a teacher, and I kept seeing my book friends post about it.
I found Tara’s upbringing to be so interesting. Her father was a religious man, and it seemed to be her mother was as too even if she was more laid back. However, as I continued to read and found Tara’s mother working with chakras and energies, I couldn’t help but think how much of an issue that could have caused in a religious Mormon household but the father seemed to welcome it. The oils and medicines did not surprise me but the energies and chakras did. At this point, I began thinking of her father as pretty unreliable. It seemed as if his excentric thoughts were really just to benefit what he was thinking that day but without much guidance and as I continued to read, this thought came up over and over again. However, all in all her father, Gene, was likable in his own way. He had redeeming factors and times in her memoir where his actions surprised me and I enjoyed reading about him. Without spoiling anything however, I had a hard time condoning his behaviors. I feel like sometimes the most religious can be blinded by their cruelty in thinking it’s okay for religious reasons.
The other people in Tara’s family were all very intriguing. Her brother, Shawn, I think intriguied me the most. His upbringing was so traumatic that his personality and adult behaviors were angry and vicious. I see this often in my students and it is important to understand how childhood trauma can effect someone lifelong. I felt for his character as it was sad to see how he turned out as a person when he was so likable in the beginning. It was also interesting to see what Tara blamed his personality on when she of course knew these traits were present long beforehand. Shawn had some redeeming factors which made me feel bad for him even as the victimizer.
I find her desire to learn inspiring. I have so many students who would love to work throughout their life without obtaining academic knowledge. Tara’s desire for more was inspirational. I guess it goes to show that so many people want the opposite of what they have. This can go either way obviously.
Tara’s learning about the Holocaust was very interesting to me as we as teachers often assume that prior knowledge has been built-in previous years. The Holocaust, a topic we think every one knows about single-handedly made Tara a freak in her own terms. The chapter really had me thinking about my own teaching methods.
All in all, the book is eye-opening. She went through more in her life than I could ever imagine and I find her inspiring. I hope everyone gets to read it as I think we could all learn from Tara’s upbringing. I enjoyed the read and suggest everyone to read this as it only helps us understand what perseverance can do.