Educated is among The New York Times’ top 10 books of the year and it is a memoir that will do nothing less than impress you at every turn. Tara Westover, just 32 years old, 15 years ago had never stepped into a school. Educated, her memoir, follows her life of becoming educated.
Her parents, who took Mormonism beyond its framework, believed that public institutions, such as hospitals and schools were maliciously aligned with the government, who was ready to come after the family on a plot of land in Idaho. Tara, like her other siblings, was not issued a birth certificate at birth, and her family consistently prepared for the government’s attack. They canned peaches and readied themselves for the end of days.
Tara spent her days scrapping metal for her father and being her mother’s right hand when it came to concocting natural medicines. Family discussions focused on the importance of God’s work and how the public sphere demoralized anything divine. The family’s home was simple—it had storage, lacked in modernity, and always smelled intensely of herbs that her mother would use for midwifery or treatments. There were several books the kids had access to and if they could sneak away, they used them to learn how to read.
The lack of a formal education is merely the beginning of their problems. Tara’s older brother Shawn violently beat his sisters, their father was temperamental, and the mother had no backbone in presence of the father. Not knowing the world outside, Tara runs through the motions until her older brother who has gone away to receive an education encourages her to do the same.
What follows draws a line between past and present, family and Tara. Tara’s education makes the doubtful hopeful. She succeeds and fails and then climbs to mountains higher than her peak in Idaho would ever be. Educated brings the correlation of education and social mobility to life.
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