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Educated: A Memoir (2018)

by Tara Westover

Other authors: See the other authors section.

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
5,3553421,432 (4.29)362
"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. 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. As a way out, Tara began to educate herself, learning enough mathematics and grammar to be admitted to Brigham Young University. Her quest for knowledge would transform 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. With the acute insight that distinguishes all great writers, Tara Westover has crafted a universal coming-of-age story that gets to the heart of what an education offers: the perspective to see one's life through new eyes, and the will to change it."--Provided by publisher.… (more)
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» See also 362 mentions

English (324)  Dutch (2)  German (2)  Spanish (1)  French (1)  Norwegian (1)  Catalan (1)  Danish (1)  All languages (333)
Showing 1-5 of 324 (next | show all)
I wavered between four and five stars while reading, probably because I don't tend to enjoy memoirs. But I'm ending with a five. This was a great book. ( )
  ctanons | Jan 26, 2021 |
This is no doubt a powerful book that should give all of us plenty to think about - how can a country that claims to be leading in the world make it possible for this kind of abusive autonomy to exist, without any consequences? How much are religious fanaticism and mental disorder connected? How can we help more effectively children who grow up outside of the educational system be successful when they join a college? But just like with Hillbilly Elegy, I was troubled by the emphasis on the intellectual capability - though it does emphasize that we need to help even more those children who are not as curious as the writers of these books. ( )
  WiebkeK | Jan 21, 2021 |
An interesting life story about family, education, religion. No time for a longer review! ( )
  Iira | Jan 16, 2021 |
I have thought about this for a week and I had a long review ready to post about what I liked and didn't like with quite a bit of explanation about Tara's story as it is related in the memoir. But lots of other reviews tell her story so I feel I can leave most of that out.

What I liked:

Engaging style of writing

The story about her growing up at home and about the abuse she received from her brother was believable and heart-breaking since no one intervened

Her ability to be almost self-taught and succeed academically are admirable, especially since she had little support emotionally from her parents

Tara seems likeable and tough, and the fact that she broke away from what I consider the extreme and detrimental beliefs of her parents are a testament to her character

What I did not like:

Tara's humility about her academic success ring false. She relates how she struggled so much at the beginning of her college career to understand how college works, and she was not a good test taker since she was unfamiliar with taking exams. Yet she ultimately made almost all A's, gets the "most outstanding undergraduate award" from the history department, is given a place in an exclusive study abroad program at Cambridge, wins a Gates Cambridge Scholarship to study for a master's degree, and is awarded a Harvard fellowship. The Gates scholarship is an incredibly exclusive scholarship awarded to only 3% of the applicants who typically graduate with a 3.9 or higher and score in the 99th percentile on graduate school admissions tests. Ultimately it seemed like she was one of the best at whatever she put her mind to, but she didn't want anyone to know. She states that after she won the scholarship

I was asked about my high school experience, and which of my grade school teachers had prepared me for my success. I dodged, I parried, I lied when I had to. I didn't tell a single reporter that I'd never gone to school.

I didn't know why I couldn't tell them. I just couldn't stand the thought of people patting me on the back, telling me how impressive I was.

Since she wrote this book and told the world about her achievements, I guess she got over the whole humility thing.
( )
  boldforbs | Jan 15, 2021 |
Excellent! ( )
  BobbieJR | Jan 14, 2021 |
Showing 1-5 of 324 (next | show all)
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» Add other authors (17 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Westover, Taraprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Svensson, PatrikCover designersecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Whelan, JuliaNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed

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Epigraph
The past is beautiful because one never realises an emotion at the time. It expands later, & thus we don't have complete emotions about the present, only about the past. - Virginia Woolf
I believe finally, that education must be conceived as a continuing reconstruction of experience; that the process and the goal of education are one and the same thing. - John Dewey
Dedication
For Tyler
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My strongest memory is not a memory.
Quotations
...I had finally begun to grasp something that should have been immediately apparent: that someone had opposed the great march toward equality; someone had been the person from whom freedom had been wrested. (p. 180)
...something shifted nonetheless. I had started on a path of awareness, had perceived something elemental about my brother, my father, myself. I had discerned the ways in which we had been sculpted by a tradition given to us by others, a tradition of which we were either willfully or accidentally ignorant. I had begun to understand that we had lent our voices to a discourse who sole purpose was to dehumanize and brutalize others--because nurturing that discourse was easier, because retaining power always feels like the way forward. (p. 180)
I had decided to study no history, but historians. I suppose my interest came from the sense of groundlessness I'd felt since learning about the Holocaust and the civil rights movement--since realizing that what a person knows about the past is limited, and will always be limited, to what they are told by others. I knew what it was to have a misconception corrected--a misconception of such magnitude that shifting it shifted the world. Now I needed to understand how the great gatekeepers of history had come to terms with their own ignorance and partiality. I thought that if I could accept that what they had written was not absolute but was the result of a biased process of conversation and revision, maybe I could reconcile myself with the fact that the history of most people agreed upon was not the history I had been taught. Dad could be wrong, and the great historians Carlyle and Macauley and Trevelyan could be wrong, but from the ashes of their dispute I could construct a world to live in. In knowing the ground was not ground at all, I hoped I could stand on it. (p. 238)
It's strange how you give the people you love so much power over you, I had written in my journal. ... He had defined me to myself, and there's no greater power than that. (p. 199)
I had been taught to read the words of men like Madison as a cast into which I ought to pour the plaster of my own mind, to be reshaped according to the contours of their faultless model. I read them to learn what to think, not how to think for myself. (p. 239)
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"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. 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. As a way out, Tara began to educate herself, learning enough mathematics and grammar to be admitted to Brigham Young University. Her quest for knowledge would transform 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. With the acute insight that distinguishes all great writers, Tara Westover has crafted a universal coming-of-age story that gets to the heart of what an education offers: the perspective to see one's life through new eyes, and the will to change it."--Provided by publisher.

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This is a memoir of Tara whom was raised off the grid in Idaho with no education and isolated. Tara craved knowledge and once one of her brothers got into college she followed. She went to Cambridge and Harvard, but she wondered if she lost her way home. She shows how education can change ones life even though she came from a totally different upbringing.
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