Jessica listened to the audiobook of Educated earlier this year and now it is Kim’s turn to review it. Kim read it with her neighborhood book club. Jessica’s 5 star review is here.
Author: Tara Westover
Published: February 20, 2018
Reviewed By: Kim
Kim’s Rating: 4 stars
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.
What a crazy read. All kinds of feelings came out while I was reading this book. I’m gonna start out with some small criticisms. It did feel a bit extraordinarily embellished at times. I had a hard time believing that ALL of that happened within one family. However, I will say that it is a memoir, not an academic historic work. There is room for more storytelling. My other issue is that I was hoping there would be more about her actual education. With a title like that, one would think this book would be more about schooling, when in reality, it’s far more a family saga. But those little things aside, I really enjoyed this book.
I have never in my life been more thankful for my family. My parents managed to raise independent thinking adults out of an environment of groupthink. Plus, my parents balanced discipline and love in a very effective way. So many things in this book were so familiar, yet I was shocked page after page. I also appreciated how she stayed away from sweeping generalizations about religion and politics. She so easily could have turned this book into a condemnation of any one group with certain beliefs, but she kept her judgements condensed to the people within the story. I think this would be a great book for the teens of today, to counteract some of the entitlement and whining. But I would recommend this book to pretty much everybody.