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Published 2018 by Random House


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 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.


Wow, this book is a lot – the journey that Tara went on to learn. She was blessed in lots of opportunities, pushing herself to learn for herself, accepting help and also just being gifted. Pretty sure I wouldn’t be able to teach myself algebra in a few months.

While this is her POV of her childhood and life, there were unbelievable moments. I felt like I was reading about a reality tv show with the shouting and fighting. While I’m sure there is realism to this, it’s also possible her fear and her expectations set the tone for her memories. I’m not saying she’s wrong because that’s what she felt and seemed like she recorded journal entries for a long time which does help. No matter what, it seems like she experienced trauma and I’m hoping she’s continuing to seek help.

Like I may need counseling from reading this, how is Shawn still alive? I told my husband he’s like a cat with nine lives! And if Tara’s dad is so suspicious of the government, is he paying taxes? When this book released, did they look into their essential oil business? I have questions like this but apparently he knew to file tax returns. 🤷🏻‍♀️

What I liked the most about this book is Tara’s journey of learning. I’ve seen some reviews of people complaining its repetitive or the title was misleading thinking it would focus more of school – but it’s learning. As people learn, it takes repetition to learn facts and remember history, grammar, etc. Tara repeatedly loved her family but learned she couldn’t trust them to have their best intentions with her care. And to step away from that is even more brave. It’s putting that education to use.

I’m pretty everyone who has gone to college can say how terrifying it was. How you didn’t know what to do, maybe some had an idea of what they wanted to do but everyday is a choice. Everyday has thousands of choices. You can use your education and put your own experience to try to make the best choice for you. That’s all we can do. That is what Tara has done. Did she make mistakes? I’m sure. Have I made mistakes, yes. That’s now you learn. If anything from this book, is there is no wrong way to learn. Don’t diminish others’ lack of education for not being smart. We all have knowledge in lots of things.


By Leslie_G

I love books and anything bookish!

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