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Educated: A Memoir (2018)

by Tara Westover

Other authors: See the other authors section.

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
5,6943541,319 (4.3)372
"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 372 mentions

English (338)  Dutch (3)  German (2)  Catalan (2)  Spanish (1)  French (1)  Danish (1)  Norwegian (1)  All languages (349)
Showing 1-5 of 338 (next | show all)
Fantastic book! Definitely a favourite! Very uplifting! In this memoir of Tara's life, she does a fantastic job in baring her soul and telling the story of her younger years, so you understand where she came from, and what her experiences were growing up in a deeply religious part of the US with a family that contributed to her ongoing suffering. You wouldn't know that the author hadn't set foot in a classroom until her late teens. She blossomed when she was away from the family, and became her own person. I found it refreshing to hear her stories of her innocence and discovering the outside world for the first time, that there was more to life than the mountain, and history is more than just the religious texts she was brought up on. She is able to convey her thoughts well when dealing with her self-reflection and her capabilities. Her scholastic achievements are amazing, considering the limited learning she received as a child. You can feel that her new knowledge of the world and her realized potential led her to the ultimate decision in the end. ( )
  sjh4255 | May 4, 2021 |
A gripping story with interesting post-publication accusations of falsehood. Any memoir will be inherently biased and subject to the unreliable memories of the author. A margin of error for exaggeration aside, Westover’s stories of emotional abuse, physical violence, and her family’s special brand of gaslighting left me shook. I find her academic success from a disadvantaged background less remarkable than how she was able to drag herself out of the tyranny of an abusive family and eventually overcome Stockholm Syndrome. ( )
  jiyoungh | May 3, 2021 |
I loved Tara Westover's lyric prose. She managed to be poetic without falling into melodrama. Her story is heart wrenching and inspiring.
Why not 5 stars? I did find it a bit too long and repetitive towards the end. I listened to it in audio book format, and I was ready for it to end about an hour before she finally finishes it.
As a reader one senses that writing this book must have been cathartic for her, and as the story goes on, it feels that it must reflect her own struggles to find validation on the telling of it.
I will keep Tara in my mental list of top 10 people to have a conversation, she seems as an extraordinary person. It is easy to see how this book became a best seller. ( )
  RosanaDR | Apr 15, 2021 |
I had this book (bought used) for ages on my bookshelf, as I thought it would be rather depressing-- something I don't need in these covid times-- and I am not fond of memoirs--you already know how they will turn out, especially with one that had gotten as much hype as this one. I was wrong.
OK so it was a story of a brutal, oppressive, harsh upbringing, with a fanatic and crazy pater familias, a cruel, vicious but also kind brother--same goes for the father--and a mother who looked the other way conforming to the ideal of an archetypal Mormon family. Yet the prose was lucid and the stories fast paced --maybe it slowed at the end--and balanced, relating both the cruelty and the times of happiness, and interspersing the ugly events with lyrical moments especially of the mountain landscape. What will remain with me is how strong and deep were both her emotional trauma and her core desire to be part of the family. Despite her intellectual brilliance --Cambridge after practically non-existent home schooling--her story focuses on her feelings of guilt and remorse and how she overcame those--yes we are rooting for you Tara. The how being the experience of education that allowed her to know the world and thus to "know thyself".
There is a lot to ponder in this book. ( )
  amaraki | Mar 29, 2021 |
An astonishing autobiography of a woman escaping a family whose cult-religion has them believing in the-end-of-days, stockpiling and isolating themselves from mainstream American life. The father, in particular, is deeply suspicious of government & the medical profession, believing it’s a sin to seek outside help.

Tara didn’t enter a school till she was an older teenager, embarrassed & secretive about the craters in her education, but through her own tenacity earned a higher degree from Cambridge University, losing the approval of her parents in the process.

It’s amazing that people can live off-grid in the present day and, although Tara didn’t mention politics, this did for me shed light on the independent & suspicious type of person, disdaining education who was drawn to Trump.

Tara comes across as intense & humourless, and writing ‘he said’ after every speech mark drove me nuts, but this was a searingly honest retelling of a strange upbringing which is haunting. ( )
  LARA335 | Mar 17, 2021 |
Showing 1-5 of 338 (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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