Educated by Tara Westover

With overwhelmingly positive reviews from Bill Gates, Barak Obama, as well as consistently winning the best memoir of the year in 2018 by multiple institutions, I had to see if this book lived up to all the hype it seemed to be receiving from everywhere. 

Needless to say, it went above and beyond my expectations. 

Educated is the author’s own story of growing up in a survivalist family that did not allow anyone, least of all Tara, an education. It is the journey of her breaking free from the destructiveness of her family and ending up studying at Cambridge and Harvard.

This memoir is easily one of my favorite books I’ve ever read, if not only for the powerfulness of it. Throughout the memoir, you go from pitying Tara, to pride for all that she’s accomplished. 

One trait I love about Tara is her determination. As she starts studying for the SAT, she knew almost nothing and had to learn almost all of it by herself. For example, when she started practicing trigonometry for the first time, she had the math level of a 5th grader. But as she studied more and more, and was so driven that she passed the SAT without receiving any instruction other than her brother Tyler and some books. 

This book affected me in such a deep way that I feel as if it will resonate with me forever. Now whenever I’m doing my schoolwork and feeling unmotivated, I think about Tara and how hard she had to work to just prove she had what it took without proper schooling to get into high prestige schools. She was very independent and as someone who is striving to do so, Tara is someone I look up to.

Now because of her upbringing she did have a lot of mental health issues. After discovering herself, she was pushed away by her family. Even though she had spoken out to her other family members about how manipulating and damaging her childhood was, almost no one believed her. Because of this, her family ignored her, and even though they have been the root of almost all her problems, she finds herself heartbroken over this. 

But the main thing her family has done to her was the manipulation of ideals they have put upon her. As she was growing up she was taught that the government and all of its institutions were part of the illuminati and were out to kill them. The only thing Tara’s parents willingly taught her about was religion. In fact, when she attended college she couldn’t write the way other student did because she learned to read and write only from mormon texts, she had almost no idea of how to function in a normal society. When going through with all this manipulation her parents justified it in their name of their faith, but it is clearly radicalism, and it is so, so frustrating to read about. 

And with that I leave with you a quote from the memoir that perfectly encompasses the idea of finding your own truth:

“Everything I had worked for, all my years of study, had been to purchase for myself this one privilege: to see and experience more truths than those given to me by my father, and to use those truths to construct my own mind. I had come to believe that the ability to evaluate many ideas, many histories, many points of view, was at the heart of what it means to self-create.”

-Asli B.

Educated by Tara Westover is available for checkout from the Mission Viejo Library. It can also be downloaded for free from Overdrive.

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