Book Review of Educated by Tara Westover

If you're a fan of the memoir genre you HAVE to read this book. If you're not, read it anyway. 

I'm not sure where I first heard about it, but the title alone grabbed me. I saw it the next week on the end of an aisle in Target, and requested it from my local library. Seeing how many names were ahead of mine, I knew it was likely worth the wait. 

Two months later I finally got the text telling me it was waiting for me. 

I finished it last night, and thank goodness because I'm completely sleep deprived from staying up too late four nights in a row. I hated putting it down. 

It was amazing. 

It was horrifying. 

It was riveting. 

It was memorable. 

What Tara Westover has accomplished by the age of 32 is absolutely amazing. Having received essentially no education whatsoever, and against all odds and active discouragement and manipulation from her parents, she decided to change her life by going to college. 

She'd never heard of the Holocaust, Napoleon, the Civil Rights Movement or the Equator. 

Not easily discouraged, she took some of the money she made working in her father's scrap yard and bought a few used books. She taught herself enough of the subjects needed to pass her SAT, but her scores weren't high enough to get into the school of her choice, so she went back, studied more and raised her score to what was needed. 

This woman now holds a PhD in History, and has been educated at Cambridge and Harvard. 

That's mind boggling remarkable, but it's nothing compared to what she endured and overcame. The mental and physical abuse she withstood at the hands of her own family members would have broken most people. I've read some criticism of her staying and subjecting herself to the situation, but that's what fascinated me the most - that a brilliant, gifted woman could be so blinded to the reality of her situation - partly because of her love for her family and the need we all have to belong to someone, somewhere, and partly because she wasn't able to realize there was another way to live. She only knew her own reality.

In my own family I've seen situations I so wish were different; lives of people I love that I wish I could change. I've learned the hard reality that we can't change anyone but ourselves and even that is an uphill climb. And change is only possible when someone is able to see the need to do so. We can't want what we don't know exists.

I don't know who said it, but it's a great quote:

The first step in fixing any problem is realizing there is one.

There have been many areas of my own life that needed changing, but it took years before I realized it, and more before I was ready and able to do so. It took some hard choices, and sometimes doing a 180 and going down a completely different path in life than the one I was on. It took recognizing dysfunction for what it was, and choosing to live my life differently than I had in the past.

It can be awfully hard to see through the mess of life when you're smack dab in the middle of it. I've had times in my life when trying to know what was real, and how to react to what was going on around me felt like it does when you get trapped under water, and you can't even tell which way is up, where the surface is.

You won't hear me judging Tara Westover because it took her awhile to see her horrible, dysfunctional life for what it was, and have the courage to leave it behind.

Education was the escape path she chose.  She ended up doing several 180 turns along that path before she was finally able to keep going and not look back. Honestly, I'm impressed as heck this woman survived to tell her story.

If you read this book, you'll come away impacted by her story. Reading Educated made me want to pick up a textbook and volunteer at a woman's shelter. Be sure to leave a comment and let me know your thoughts if you decide to read it. (My suggestion would be that it is appropriate reading for age 15 and up.)


Thanks for the recommendation. I love memoirs. I put a hold on my digital library and I'm number 329 I think.... It's going to be a while.
Bev said…
Well Beth, that's going to take awhile! But it's still worth the wait. Let me know what you think when you finally get to read it. Thanks for stopping by.

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