Educated tells both the story of how Tara Westover grew up, with no birth certificate, no formal schooling, living in rural Idaho, and how she left, not just physically, but how she reclaimed her mind, her view of the world, and her sense of self. It is unbelievable to me that someone could raise their children this way, and even more miraculous that several of them broke free. It is one thing to leave home, but entirely another to leave your family. Recommended By Mary Jo S., Powells.com
I don't know how to talk about this book yet. I've tried to explain how moved I was while reading it. How proud I am of Tara's journey so far. How haunted I feel by what she went through, and by the echoes of her experiences in my own life. I can't keep the tears out of my eyes and I can't praise Educated highly enough. Recommended By McKenzie W., Powells.com
Synopses & Reviews
An unforgettable memoir about a young girl who, kept out of school, leaves her survivalist family and goes on to earn a PhD from Cambridge University.
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Tara Westover was 17 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 metal in her father’s junkyard.
Her father distrusted the medical establishment, 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 an older brother became violent.
When another brother got himself into college and came back with news of the world beyond the mountain, Tara decided to try a new kind of life. She taught herself enough mathematics, grammar, and science to take the ACT and was admitted to Brigham Young University. There, she studied psychology, politics, philosophy, and history, learning for the first time about pivotal 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 University. 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 from severing one’s closest 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.
“Educated shines a light on a part of our country that we too often overlook. Tara Westover’s powerful tale — of trying to find a place for herself in the world, without losing her connection to her family or her beloved home — deserves to be widely read. My Mamaw would have been rooting for Tara.” J. D. Vance, author of Hillbilly Elegy
“This remarkable memoir — one of the best I’ve ever read — is my kind of miracle. The book made me cringe, cry out, cover my eyes, shake with anger, beam with pride, and appreciate the trials that led to my own education. Tara Westover’s story will find a place alongside modern classic memoirs like Wild and The Glass Castle. It’s that special.” Susannah Cahalan, author of Brain on Fire
“Breathtaking, heart-wrenching, inspirational — I’ve never read anything like this. Educated is one of the best books, and Westover one of the most gifted writers, that I’ve read in a very long time.” Amy Chua, Yale law professor and author of Political Tribes and Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother
“A punch to the gut, a slow burn, a savage indictment, a love letter...Rarely have I read a book that made me so uncomfortable, so enraged, and at the same time so utterly, entirely absorbed.” Claire Dederer, author of Love and Trouble
About the Author
Tara Westover was born in Idaho in 1986. She received her BA from Brigham Young University in 2008 and was subsequently awarded a Gates Cambridge Scholarship. She earned an MPhil from Trinity College, Cambridge, in 2009, and in 2010 was a visiting fellow at Harvard University. She returned to Cambridge, where she was awarded a PhD in history in 2014. Educated is her first book.
Tara Westover on PowellsBooks.Blog
I was raised in the mountains of Idaho by a father who opposed many of the institutions that most people take for granted — public education, doctors and hospitals, the government. As a result I was never put in school, never visited a doctor or nurse, and was not given a birth certificate until age nine...