Educated: A Memoir (Hardcover)


Staff Pick Badge
Educated: A Memoir Cover Image
On Our Shelves Now
On hand as of Sep 17 6:30pm

Staff Reviews

EDUCATED was a big surprise for me. I don’t think I have ever read a more engaging and thought provoking memoir that actually made such a sensible argument for education. Tara Westover’s story is one of perseverance, fear, ignorance, child and spousal abuse, enlightenment and religion. The religion doesn’t overshadow the story, but it is something that is important to Tara, so it needs to be explained.

Tara grew up the youngest of a family of seven children in rural Idaho to Mormon parents. Not only do they not attend school, but the four youngest children don’t even have birth certificates as they were born at home and not registered. Tara and her siblings aren’t home-schooled by their mother and they are used as labor for their father’s junkyard business. The first time Tara steps into a classroom it is at the age of 17 as a college student, having passed her ACT exam by teaching herself from textbooks. Tara taught herself enough at home n her own to gain acceptance into Brigham Young University while lying about her home-school experience. She eventually went on to Cambridge and attained her PhD.

The main focus of this story is Tara’s surprising family and upbringing. Tara and her siblings are essentially brainwashed by their father, who believes the government is corrupt and out to get them. They live a life of stockpiling supplies, staying to themselves, and not sharing family customs with others outside of the family. It is no wonder it takes Tara so long to escape and start to assimilate, as she has been told from infancy that the rest of the world is wrong and the government is out to take kids away from their parents.

Not only is Tara’s life at home full of ignorance, it is also full of abuse from one of her older brothers. Tara is beyond reluctant to tell anyone, she wouldn’t dare. Her family doesn’t seek outside medical help. They don’t visit doctors or hospitals, no matter what. Tara mother uses herbal and faith healing on even the most horrific of medical conditions. She doesn’t complain about her situation or ask for pity from the reader. Tara’s story is one that needs to be told. I hope in her telling and sharing her life she is able to see that healing is possible.

The wonder of this story is that any of the children escaped the cycle of abuse and paranoia. Tara displays an incredible amount of courage as she goes against the wishes of her parents to attend college and become educated. Her story reads like fiction and it is so incredible, almost unbelievable. Most people never get a chance to see what life would look like through another person’s eyes. Through education, Tara gets to do just that and it is so inspiring.

I highly recommend this book. Even if nonfiction/memoirs aren’t your thing, this is an incredible story that most readers will enjoy and take something from.

— Karen Opper

March 2018 Indie Next List

“Tara Westover is barely 30; could she really write a necessary and timely memoir already? Absolutely. Raised largely 'off the grid' in rural Idaho - without school, doctor visits, a birth certificate, or even a family consensus on the date of her birth - Tara nevertheless decides she wants to go to college. This is a story in two parts: First, Tara's childhood working in a dangerous scrapyard alongside her six siblings, her survivalist father, and her mother, a conflicted but talented midwife and healer, while fearing Y2K and the influence of the secular world; then, her departure from her mountain home to receive an education. Both halves of her story are equally fascinating. Educated is a testament to Tara's brilliance and tenacity, a bittersweet rendering of how family relationships can be cruel or life-saving, and a truly great read from the first page to the last.”
— Emilie Sommer, East City Bookshop, Washington, DC



NAMED ONE OF THE BEST BOOKS OF THE YEAR BY The Washington Post O: The Oprah MagazineTime • NPR • Good Morning America San Francisco ChronicleThe Guardian The Economist Financial TimesNewsdayNew York PosttheSkimmRefinery29BloombergSelfReal Simple Town & CountryBustlePastePublishers WeeklyLibrary JournalLibraryReadsBookRiot • Pamela Paul, KQED • New York Public Library

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

Born to survivalists in the mountains of Idaho, Tara Westover was seventeen the first time she set foot in a classroom. Her 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. When another brother got himself into college, Tara decided to try a new kind of life. 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.

“Beautiful and propulsive . . . Despite the singularity of [Tara Westover’s] childhood, the questions her book poses are universal: How much of ourselves should we give to those we love? And how much must we betray them to grow up?”—Vogue

“Westover has somehow managed not only to capture her unsurpassably exceptional upbringing, but to make her current situation seem not so exceptional at all, and resonant for many others.”—The New York Times Book Review

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.

Praise For…

“Westover has somehow managed not only to capture her unsurpassably exceptional upbringing, but to make her current situation seem not so exceptional at all, and resonant for many others.”The New York Times Book Review

“Westover is a keen and honest guide to the difficulties of filial love, and to the enchantment of embracing a life of the mind.”The New Yorker

“An amazing story, and truly inspiring. It’s even better than you’ve heard.”—Bill Gates

“Heart-wrenching . . . a beautiful testament to the power of education to open eyes and change lives.”—Amy Chua, The New York Times Book Review

“A coming-of-age memoir reminiscent of The Glass Castle.”O: The Oprah Magazine

“Westover’s one-of-a-kind memoir is about the shaping of a mind. . . . In briskly paced prose, she evokes a childhood that completely defined her. Yet it was also, she gradually sensed, deforming her.”The Atlantic

“Tara Westover is living proof that some people are flat-out, boots-always-laced-up indomitable. Her new book, Educated, is a heartbreaking, heartwarming, best-in-years memoir about striding beyond the limitations of birth and environment into a better life. . . . ★★★★ out of four.”USA Today

“[Educated] left me speechless with wonder. [Westover’s] lyrical prose is mesmerizing, as is her personal story, growing up in a family in which girls were supposed to aspire only to become wives—and in which coveting an education was considered sinful. Her journey will surprise and inspire men and women alike.”Refinery29

“Riveting . . . Westover brings readers deep into this world, a milieu usually hidden from outsiders. . . . Her story is remarkable, as each extreme anecdote described in tidy prose attests.”—The Economist

“A subtle, nuanced study of how dysfunction of any kind can be normalized even within the most conventional family structure, and of the damage such containment can do.”Financial Times

“Whether narrating scenes of fury and violence or evoking rural landscapes or tortured self-analysis, Westover writes with uncommon intelligence and grace. . . . One of the most improbable and fascinating journeys I’ve read in recent years.”—Newsday

Coverage from NPR

Product Details
ISBN: 9780399590504
ISBN-10: 0399590501
Publisher: Random House
Publication Date: February 20th, 2018
Pages: 352
Language: English