A Memoir

Book - 2018
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For readers of The Glass Castle and Wild, a stunning new memoir about family, loss and the struggle for a better future

#1 International Bestseller

Tara Westover was seventeen when she first set foot in a classroom. Instead of traditional lessons, she grew up learning how to stew herbs into medicine, scavenging in the family scrap yard and helping her family prepare for the apocalypse. She had no birth certificate and no medical records and had never been enrolled in school.

Westover's mother proved a marvel at concocting folk remedies for many ailments. As Tara developed her own coping mechanisms, little by little, she started to realize that what her family was offering didn't have to be her only education. Her first day of university was her first day in school--ever--and she would eventually win an esteemed fellowship from Cambridge and graduate with a PhD in intellectual history and political thought.

Publisher: Ontario :, HarperCollins,, 2018
ISBN: 9781443452472
Branch Call Number: ON ORDER 2018


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May 19, 2018

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 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 if the struggle for self-invention. It is a tale of fierce family loyalty and of the grief that comes from severing ties with those closest to you.

(Description, slightly edited, is taken from the inner flap of the hardcover book jacket.)

This is a very frustrating book. Everything that takes place, nearly everything, is frustrating. Nearly everyone in the book is frustrating. Particularly frustrating is the author who doesn't seem to recognize the events for what they are.

May 15, 2018

Powerful indictment of religious fanaticism, equally powerful testament of how transformative an education can be for a person. Well done, Tara! (Recommended further reading, "Hillbilly Elegy" by J.D. Vance)

Apr 28, 2018

A powerful and difficult story. Tara is a brave and strong woman now but it took some gut-wrenching, dig-down-deep fortitude to get there. She wasn't given even the most basic of tools to survive the World, and yet she did both survive and thrive.
Although portions of this memoir are uncertainly told and there seem to be portions of the story left out, this is a story of personal growth, soul searching and self independence. There comes a time when we take responsibility for our own lives and decisions. Tara's road to this was harder than the norm.
Despite the uncertain parts in this story of family & memory, Tara's struggles to become her true self is the real story here. It's a grueling story and difficult to read. I give her my full applause at having the courage to find her way. It was difficult and I hope she's happy now. She's certainly stronger.

Apr 24, 2018

Everyone should read this book. I couldn’t put it down or stop thinking about it. There are some parts that are hard to read, especially when Tara’s brother was physically abusing her. But read this book, Tara is an exceptional writer with an exceptional life!

DCLadults Apr 23, 2018

One of the best memoirs I've read all year. Sure to be on many best of lists.

Apr 11, 2018

What a tribute to the resilience of the author and the human spirit. Just a supportive word at a crisis point gives her the strength to go on. Fortunately, she also had some very good professional help and encouraging teachers who could see the unique viewpoint gained from her early life and her struggle to educate herself. Every member of her family had a struggle to survive. Their father seems to have had no connection in his mind between cause and effect. Therefore, accidents in the scrap yard were inevitable and recovery from these gives evidence that humans can recover from really horrendous physical injury with minimal medical intervention. Westover does not dwell on these, but the recovery from her mental injuries seems to hinge on trying to confront her family members. This finally convinces her that a few of them will continue a relationship with her; but her parents will be estranged. Perhaps, this will be something that she will have to accept; and it seems, at the end of the book, that she has; but she's young enough to have more life chapters left.

Apr 05, 2018

An amazing chronicle of an abusive, isolated and restrictive childhood survived and overcome. Tara Westover is raised in rural Idaho by her Mormon fundamentalist, government-fearing, delusional father and submissive mother. Rejecting formal education and medicine, the children are not encouraged to learn and are allowed only home remedies for illness and the sometimes horrific injuries they suffer. Tara is also brutalized by an old brother--abuse most of the family denies. Eventually Tara along with several brothers begins to learn on her own and leaves the family home for college. Surviving and leaving is a victory but the meat of the book is about what happens to Tara mentally. How she is affected by abuse and ignorance. How she tries to reconcile the two halves of her life: home vs the wider world. Ignorance vs knowledge. Fear and pain vs joy. And the two halves of her self. Her father's daughter and adult. Riveting, painful and ultimately joyful it's an unforgettable memoir.

mko123 Mar 26, 2018

Tara grows up in rural idaho with a fanatical religious father, a deferential mother, and a slew of sisters and brothers, Sean being the most charming, yet dangerous. Tara learns about physics by ducking metal objects in the junk yard being flung by her scrapper father, and she learns to read by only the Bible and the Book of Morman. Tara's memoir is a search not only for an education but also a quest for her own voice. She has been so beaten down and indoctrinated by the men in her family, that she feels she can hardly breath. A heavy price must be paid for bucking the family. Tara is a courageous new voice and her story is unbelievable.

DBRL_ReginaF Mar 14, 2018

This is such an incredible memoir. Tara is so honest about her escape from fundamentalism
with no education beyond homeschooling to the halls of Harvard and Cambridge and the ensuing mental breakdown. She treats everyone, even the worst and even herself, with such empathy.

Mayflower94 Mar 14, 2018


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DBRL_ReginaF Mar 14, 2018

“You can love someone and still choose to say goodbye to them,” she says now. “You can miss a person every day, and still be glad that they are no longer in your life.”

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