Cover Image: Educated

Educated

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Member Reviews

This book blew my mind, even though the events described seemed so unreal as to be exaggerated. But pushing this inside, it was entertaining to be a fly on the wall with these family dramas, despite it being so heartbreaking.
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Tara Westover is an amazing woman. I cannot imagine accomplishing what she did. The book held my interest from cover to cover and beyond. I highly recommend reading this.
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The most horrifying story I have ever read. I'm shocked and terrified that this was a true story. I don't think I've ever cried so much reading non-fiction before. Recommended reading for everyone!
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The core theme of the book is about the merits of education, but it's also about memory and about the complicated ties to family and oneself. It is also about love and how love can manifest in harmful, abusive ways.

Tara was raised the youngest of seven children in rural Idaho by extremist parents who prepared for the world's end and didn't believe in public education. Rather than go to hospitals, they would use oils and herbs to heal the various injuries sustained while living on the mountain and working in a junkyard. And there are many, many serious injuries. Brain trauma, burns, car accidents, physical abuse, gashes, impaling, etc. At times it feels more like a thriller than a real story, which is a tribute to how well-written the book is.

While Tara was "home-schooled" she didn't receive an education from her parents. She worked on the junkyard with her father and helped her mother with her herbalist remedies and midwifery. The only books around to read was the Book of Mormon and various other Mormon texts and a children's book. Her father lectured about his paranoid ideologies and it wasn't until she was able to go to school and learn for herself that she realized how flawed and ignorant her knowledge was. While at BYU, she raised her hand in class and asked her instructor what the Holocaust was because she didn't know. So this is a story of resilience and using education as an opportunity to transform oneself. To get away from the roots that hold you back.

As Tara tells her story, she understands how poor our memories can be at accurately recalling events, so she is open about what is memory, what is speculation, journal entry, research or the accounts of others. This, of course, means that her perspective of things doesn't match with other family members. Remember, she has six siblings and she is the youngest. I looked into the accounts of other family members and honestly, I don't think any of it should or can be used against Tara. All it does is prove how memory works and how our recollection of events is shaped by our thoughts and feelings at the time. She fact checked as much as she could while keeping her own perspective intact.

Ultimately, this is both an account of Tara's childhood and of navigating her adulthood afterwards. To use the quote that Tara has pinned to her Twitter, "Stories are about one person saying to another: This is the way it feels to me. Can you understand what I'm saying? Does it feel the same to you?"
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What to say that hasn't already been said? It's a beautifully written story of the pain and loss that comes with freeing oneself from an abusive situation. I put off reading this for a while because I knew certain parts would hit uncomfortably close to home, but I'm glad I did face down my fears and read it. Even if you haven't lived in a dysfunctional home, the book is inspiring both in how to dream bigger and care better for yourself, and to be kinder to people who are struggling--that kindness might just save someone's life.

Thank you to the publishers and NetGalley for the opportunity to review a temporary digital ARC in exchange for an unbiased review.
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This was a fascinating book, coming from a homeschool background myself. On some level, I'm frustrated that this has become known so much as a "homeschool" book, because it really isn't about homeschooling at all - it's about *not* schooling, and the devastation that can cause. But even as I found myself unable to relate to Tara's educational experiences, I saw reflected in her underlying journey of self discovery and healing a wide array of issues that I've dealt with myself (to a lesser degree) as I've reached adulthood and started to recognize the many ways my parents shaped - and sometimes hurt - me without any of us ever realizing it.
If I had any criticism it would be to say that I'm slightly uncertain that this was the right time for her to write this book. Some of the later chapters take place not that long ago, and in those she's still undergoing continual growth and having new realizations about her childhood. At various points in her journey, she mentioned how she thought that she had figured things out, only to realize later on that she was still missing major pieces of the puzzle. I'm somewhat worried, for her own sake, that at some point she'll realize that she wrote this while still in the middle of her journey after all, and that the way she tells her story now isn't really how she'll want it viewed later on. I still think this is a valuable book to read in what it *does* show about the healing process as she's experienced it up to this point, but I do think that it's important to keep in mind where she is as she's writing it as well.
Overall, though, I loved this book, and I plan to reread it at some point as I progress further in processing my own upbringing, and see what new insights I get coming at it from a different vantage point. I highly recommend it to anyone with a childhood.
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This book was intriguing. I particularly enjoyed the portions that talked about her mother's attempts at medicine and midwifery.
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I am a voracious reader, but I have never been so impacted by a novel as when I read EDUCATED. It was painful to know that a real person in the same society as I has experienced these events. On the other hand, it was refreshing to hear Westover's insight on living in a dissimilar culture to mine. 

From reading this memoir, you will learn masses about the author, about yourself, the impact parents have on children, and the privilege and necessity of standardized education. It will open your eyes and hopefully remind you to keep an open mind about people's upbringing, background, and past doings. There is simply nothing else to say: EDUCATED was a resonating, empowering, and heart-wrenching memoir that can serve society for the better. I advise you to pick this up and give the first ten pages a try; no more is needed because after that, you will be hooked.

In my opinion, one star deserves to be knocked off from Westover's overall spectacular rating because of the story arc. I'm not sure whether Westover left out chunks of her history, such as how she met the application requirements for such a prestigious university (BYU), or if I didn't connect with her writing style, but some things seemed a little too good to be true. I am not doubting the author's abilities as a student, I am just wondering why this section of her journey was not discussed. Having worked all my life for top grades, reading all the textbooks, buying all the study guides, attending all the extra classes provided by the exam board, I am surprised that things seemed to work out as easy as they did in the long-run. If Westover didn't leave anything out and she did happen to be lucky, good for her! EDUCATED teaches about another aspect of life: being in the right place at the right time. Westover could not have written a more important book if she tried.
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Trying to clear my Netgalley shelves of books I read a long time ago, but haven't rated/reviewed yet. Sorry for the delay!! This was incredible.
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As usual, I'm late to the game on reading this one, but it was so good! The story of Tara's experiences with her family was astounding at times, completely outside the realm of a reality that I can recognize. I can't believe she overcame her lack of any education to earn a doctorate degree and write this book. It was so, so good!
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Wow what a well written memoir. As a child abuse survivor myself I felt the book hard to read at times. Tara is a true testament to the saying your past does not define you.
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This is not a typical style of read for me, but I had heard so many good things about it that I decided to give it a try. I thought it was very well-written. Tara Westover fills the readers with lots of emotions as she shares her very difficult upbringing in a life few could relate to. There were times I had to remind myself that this was non-fiction as the things Tara lived through were so heartbreaking and just honestly hard to believe at times. I know that the point of the book was to tell the story of a woman who had no formal education until college, but ended up going to some of the most prominent institutions of higher learning in the world. Although I found that fascinating, what really stood out to me was her perseverance and how that carried her through. I did find the book to be a little slow at times and more details than necessary sometimes, but overall a great read.

Thank you to Netgalley and the publisher for a copy of this book. All opinions expressed are entirely my own.
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I’m so happy so many of my friends have read Educated, and that I had the opportunity to read it as well.  The first two-thirds of the book are so gripping and really dig into what it looks like when an abused child… doesn’t really recognize they’ve been abused.  Shortly after I read Educated, my father and I watched Leave No Trace, the 2018 film starring Ben Foster and now available on Prime streaming. My father and I disagreed about whether or not the daughter in Leave No Trace was actually being “abused” by living off the grid in a state park, and it was an interesting pairing with Educated, where the abuse both by Westover’s parents and brother is MUCH more apparent. 

I wonder if part of my father’s reluctance to tie that word to Leave No Trace has to do with the fact that for so long, terms like “child abuse” have been tied to either truly horrible, intentional physical violence or sexual assault. For people looking for content warnings, Educated does not contain any sexual assault and has… mild to moderate physical violence committed by Westover’s brother.  Still, there is no doubt in my mind that both of Westover’s parents and her brother all abuse her in different ways. Sometimes it’s neglect, or limiting her opportunities, sometimes it’s psychological, and on a few occasions it’s physical.   

While the theme of the book is about recognizing and reevaluating her world after realizing she was abused, I wish that we spent more time watching Westover gain her education.  It is absolutely the key that sets her free, but the narrative focuses on what she’s leaving behind more than what her new reality looks like.
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Well written memoir that opened my eyes to a whole part of America the I didn't know existed. I can't believe parents would treats their kids the way that Tara and her siblings were treated.
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I was very late getting to this one. The buzz was well earned even as substantial as it was. This biography of over coming an off the grid Mormon upbringing from Idaho reminded me at times of "Hillbilly Elegy". However the later parts dug much deeper into abuse and psychology making it, in my opinion, a much deeper life story. Overall I would definitely recommend and my thanks to netgalley for providing me with a drc even though the title was definitely already released by the time of my request.
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I found this book incredibly hard to read. All that abuse!

I must admit at times I felt that there was some dramatisation in the story and that really dimmed my enjoyment too.
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This story was heart wrenching! Tara is resilient and strong. I think it’s sad people don’t believe her story and choose to disparage her. When I talk to or listen to stories from people who knew the family, it only convinces me more that her story holds a lot of truth (even when these voices are trying to contradict her POV). Being part of the homeschool community and a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (commonly called Mormons), this story intrigued me. Her parents are not typical members of our church and have created their own insane/extreme survivalist, fear mongering lifestyle that leaders of the the church would not support. But Tara’s experience makes you think about what education is, how resilient human beings are, what we can accomplish or learn when we are motivated, what makes a family, how to set healthy boundaries and so many other things.
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"Educated" is the kind of memoir that gives you not only an insight into one person's life, but also a broader perspective of developments in society. In this case it is the religious background of the author and her struggle to overcome a poor upbringing in Idaho in a very closed environment. The desire of living a decent and educated life and to find a place to be. Suffering from mental illness, this is a journey that has many twists and turns. Engaging and compelling and wonderfully told by Tara Westover.
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One of the best yet most deeply tragic novels I’ve ever read. I resisted reading Educated for too, too long given all of the rave reviews, but Westover’s story and her ability to recount it in such a captivating way is simply incredible.

Special thanks to the publisher and NetGalley for the eARC!
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The Sound of Gravel, but updated? I didn't find this book as compelling as most, unfortunately. There was opportunity for something more full, but this felt tinny in forced way.
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