Educated

Pub Date:   |   Archive Date: 09 Apr 2019

Member Reviews

I really enjoyed this book, and thought it was well-written with intriguing and compelling subject matter. There did seem to be a lack of detail in the later stages, and I ended up feeling mildly dissatisfied, without knowing quite why.
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A compelling and searingly honest memoir that celebrates the strength of the authors spirit. It manages to be both heartbreaking and life-affirming in equal measure. A truly astonishing story.
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Believe the hype: you're unlikely to read a more compelling memoir this year. Her story is both utterly jaw-dropping and beautifully written.
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This is a simply stunning narrative of overcoming adversity and the immense power and drive an education can provide. Westover tells the story of her family with warmth and a tenderness that belies the suffering she endured at the hands of both her parents and her older brother. She is honest about the highs as well as the lows of her upbringing and the pride she clearly felt as a 'good Mormon girl' when faced with other girls who hadn't been subjected to the constant pressures living a good Mormon life actually entailed at the Westover compound. There is great humour here, along with passages that are incredibly difficult to read and there are certainly topics discussed that many will find triggering, including violence and abuse. Ultimately, this is a story of hope and the power of faith in oneself and it is a book that everyone should read as I think everyone would find something to connect with in its pages. A truly remarkable achievement.
I received a free copy of this book from NetGalley in exchange for a fair and honest review.
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This book made a lot of “Best Book of 2018” lists, and deservedly so. It tells the extraordinary story of Tara Westover and how she was able to educate herself while escaping her Mormon family in rural Idaho. She went on to earn degrees from Bingham Young University, and then, a master’s and a doctorate from Cambridge. It is a stunning and beautifully written book. Although it does occasionally wend its way into misery memoir territory, it still is an inspiring and unbelievable story. 

Thank you to NetGalley and to Windmill Books for giving me a review copy in exchange for an honest review.
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Interesting read, feel like there's loads more detail I wanted to know however. My heart was in my mouth reading some of the passages, even though they felt repetitive at times. I'd be fascinated to read more about the detail of how on earth she managed to escape- it seems she went from uneducated to suddenly at Cambridge really quickly. Nonetheless an engrossing read
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Absolutely loved this book! I was engrossed from the minute I picked it up and I couldn't put it down. I thought the note about the memoir not being about religion at the beginning helped me to read this book where I am understanding the family as individuals; obviously, religion does come in to it, but it's so much more than that. Will re-read!
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When I put out a call for what 2018 books I should read before the end of the year, one of the most popular suggestions people made was “Educated” by Tara Westover. This was listed on many people’s books of the year lists – not only book bloggers and booktubers, but everyone from Michelle Obama to Bill Gates. So expectations were high, but I wasn’t let down. This is an extraordinary story and an artfully composed memoir. Westover relates her tale of growing up in an extremely religious Mormon fundamentalist family with a domineering survivalist father in rural Idaho. Her childhood is so removed from the larger world she doesn’t go to school and her birth was never even registered. But in her teenage years she takes her first steps to starting formal education and integrating into society. The conflict of this break from her family and establishing her individuality is so heartrending, but it’s also inspiring in the way it shows how a person’s innate intelligence and resiliency can help them grow into the person they are meant to be. 

I’ve previously read some impactful novels (notably Claire Fuller’s “Our Endless Numbered Days” and Gabriel Tallent’s “My Absolute Darling”) about unstable fathers who try to live in a self sufficient way because they are convinced society is coming to an end and they force their daughters to live in a sheltered way with them. But reading a real account of someone who really grew up in an atmosphere of paranoia and fear was so striking. It really shows the danger both physically and mentally of tearing people away from larger society. For most of Tara’s childhood, her father scrapes a living together collecting and selling metal from a junkyard and he forces his children to work alongside him. He often actively dissuades his children from wearing protective gear which leads to many gruesome injuries. Just as shocking is her mother’s work as a midwife where she uses only natural, home-brewed medicine and faith practices. 

Reading about the real physical danger that children born in these situations are exposed to is terrifying enough, but what’s worse is how badly Tara and other children are prepared for dealing with the outside world. It’s a form of abuse that can’t be measured because the debilitating effects aren’t always immediately apparent. Only when Tara goes to college does she understand how sheltered her life has been. Her father believes “College is extra school for people too dumb to learn the first time around” but Tara quickly understands how having no schooling gives her no frame of reference for things which are obvious to other people. For instance, she naively asks in class what the Holocaust was when it comes up in a discussion. 

Tara and some of her siblings are naturally drawn to escaping the circumstances of their childhood to connect with the larger world while others stay in place. The defectors of the family not only discover more about society, but about how harmful some of the practices they lived under were. Tara and some of her siblings learned to live with the frequent physical abuse they suffered from an older brother. Consciously or not, her family built a narrative about his pattern of violent behaviour to normalise it and it’s only when Tara gets outside of it that she can see how abhorrent it really is. It’s harrowing reading about her journey towards being able to tell her own story: “My life was narrated for me by others. Their voices were forceful, emphatic, absolute. It had never occurred to me that my voice might be as strong as theirs.” But this memoir is ultimately hopeful in testifying how individuals can rise above their circumstances and learn to speak for themselves – even if it means they must leave everything they’ve known and believed behind.
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a fierce memoir on family, education, belonging and finding your owns way in the world. painful to read at times, and moving
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A gripping book.  I am full of admiration for Tara Westover, for the life she lead in her youth and the life she has managed to carve out for herself in later life.
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"Not knowing for certain, but refusing to give way to those who claim certainty, was a privilege I had never allowed myself. My life was narrated for me by others. Their voices were forceful, emphatic, absolute. It had never occurred to me that my voice might be as strong as theirs." - Tara Westover

I don’t often read memoirs, but when I do, it's because they have been penned by incredible people who have a meaningful story to tell. I am beyond gland that I went against my instincts when picking up a memoir to commit to reading this book.
To say it was absolutely beautifully written would be an understatement. This harrowing tale keeps readers pinching themselves to remind themselves that the recount was a true one, and this was not just another work of fiction. 

What a wonderful read, and a firm reminder to never take the gift of education for granted.
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This is such a wonderful and inspiring book that I would recommend to everyone. Tara Westover writes honestly and movingly about her childhood, growing up in a strict survivalist Mormon family, and all the casual violence and danger that came with it. Her desire to become educated begins to 'other' her from her parents, who are suspicious of anything outside their small family unit, and her gradual realisation that the reality of the world conflicts with the stories she's grown up believing from her parents is incredibly well-portrayed. 
Westover's determination and bravery in continuing her education, even at the cost of a possible estrangement, comes through loud and clear from the page. We also see her fragility, as the world she thought she knew crumbles around her, and her doubts and subsequent depression emerge.
What comes through most of all is her spirit and strength. I felt in awe of Tara Westover reading this story - and astonished at the journey she has been on. Thoroughly recommended.
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A beautifully-written, thought-provoking, unusual book that will stay with me for a long time. It deserves every success.
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I know I am definitely in the minority here, but I really struggled with this book. Whilst I thought Tara's unusual upbringing fascinating (in a morbid, horrified sort of way as she is describing the abuse and the lack of medical attention to the many accidents that befall her and her family members), the choppy, somewhat unemotional writing kept me from getting truly emotionally invested in the story. Perhaps it is a defense mechanism on her part to keep a distance from the traumatic experiences she describes, but it also kept me at an arm's length the whole time whilst reading. I would have loved to see some of the emotions she must have felt as a little girl, an outcast from her peers, subjected to experiences that must have been terrifying for her (like her mother's accident for example). I am a reader who relies very much on the emotional experience for my enjoyment of reading, and this one just didn't do it for me. I concede that this book is just not the right one for me at this time. Thank you for the opportunity to read and review it!
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Tara Westover was born to strict Mormon parents who didn’t agree with school, modern medicine or women’s equality. Tara spent her childhood attempting to become the dutiful daughter her parents demanded, while keeping on the right side of her violent, manipulative older brother. Education was to prove a way out, but eventually Tara had to choose between becoming the Tara she wanted to be, and the one her parents would accept. A stunning memoir that will stay with the reader long after Christmas is over.
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So much good stuff here in this inspirational story of toxic family, religion and abuse: but there are elements that feel literally incredible - the huge number of accidents suffered by the family, for instance, that are cured by no more than a snap of Mother Westover's fingers and some home-made herbals...
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This book was fascinating. I really appreciated all the gritty details. I could never imagine anything like this in a million years. At points it almost felt like I was reading a history book about people who live decades ago; not about people who I share a lifetime with.
It is so well written - brutally honest and heart-breaking.
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I rarely read non-fiction but there was something about the buzz around this memoir that made me want to try it and I am glad I did. Westover writes with such skill and unflinching honesty and aspects of the narrative are so far removed from most readers' experience that it is almost as though you are reading a novel and it's every bit as compelling as the best fiction. An arresting, moving and memorable read.
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Plot: This isn’t technically a “plot” as this novel is a memoir. It follows the life of Tara, a girl growing up in a “survivalist” family in Idaho, documenting the challenges and trials of living as part of a family that doesn’t believe in relying on the government or mainstream society, and as such, the children don’t go to school. Tara does break away as she grows and heads to university, somewhere where everything is unfamiliar and often confusing as she tries to reconcile how she lives with how the rest of the world does, eventually heading overseas to Cambridge and exploring how life can be there.

My thoughts: I really enjoyed this read that took me totally away from my normal way of life to experience something entirely unfamiliar to me. I’ve always been a little bit intrigued by homeschooling, having been through formal education from 3 to 21, and having taught at a school myself too, however this was very different to what you’d tend to think of as homeschooling, with a lot more focus on working for the family, no matter the danger or hazards. There were parts that were hard to read and times where you wanted to scream through the pages to do something different because it seemed so ridiculous to put themselves at risk, but learning about a new way of living was fascinating.
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A memoir of fierce intellect, an almost unbelievable childhood and the healing power of learning, this is a stunning book. Tara Westover grew up in a Mormon survivalist family, without a birth certificate, vaccinations or an education. Despite never having set foot in a classroom until the age of 17, she gained a PhD from the University of Cambridge ten years later. 
        ‘Educated’ tells the story of how this was possible, not only because of the author’s obvious intelligence and thirst for knowledge, but also how her brutally violent childhood gave her the drive to search for a different life. What lifts this book above the usual childhood misery tale though, is the way in which Westover discusses family loyalties, religious devotion and the power of denial in maintaining the status quo. In leaving rural Idaho and going to college, Tara had to abandon the idea that she was to blame for her brother Shawn’s violent rages, and accept that her father’s paranoid belief that she was of the devil meant she could not maintain contact with him. Analysing family ties, class, religion and money allows ‘Educated’ to become more than a misery memoir, elevating it to one of the best biographies I have ever read.
        Shocking, heartbreaking and profound, this is a fantastic read that had me gripped from start to finish. Highly recommended for every library.
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