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Publisher's Summary

An unforgettable memoir in the tradition of The Glass Castle about a young girl who, kept out of school, leaves her survivalist family and goes on to earn a PhD from Cambridge University
Tara Westover was 17 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.
Her father forbade hospitals, so Tara never saw a doctor or nurse. Gashes and concussions, even burns from explosions, were all treated at home with herbalism. 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.
Then, lacking any formal education, Tara began to educate herself. She taught herself enough mathematics and grammar to be admitted to Brigham Young University, where she studied history, learning for the first time about important world events like the Holocaust and the civil rights movement. Her quest for knowledge transformed 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.
Educated is an account of the struggle for self-invention. It is a tale of fierce family loyalty and of the grief that comes with severing the closest of ties. With the acute insight that distinguishes all great writers, Westover has crafted a universal coming-of-age story that gets to the heart of what an education is and what it offers: the perspective to see one's life through new eyes and the will to change it.
©2018 Tara Westover (P)2018 Random House Audio
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Critic Reviews

"Powerful, moving, brave, naked, and completely at home in its form, Tara Westover's Educated gives us homegrown American originals, who find their Mormon congregation too conventional, and raise their children on a western mountain, refusing them birth certificates and not allowing them to attend school. This is a daughter's story of how she grew into herself and comes to understand her home. This book would be far less harrowing if it were a novel." (Mona Simpson, author of Casebook and Anywhere But Here)
"A punch to the gut, a slow burn, a savage indictment, a love letter: Educated somehow contrives to be all these things at once. Tara Westover guides us through the extraordinary western landscape of her coming of age and in clear, tender prose makes us feel what she felt growing up among fanatics." (Claire Dederer, author of Love and Trouble)
"Narrator Julia Whelan's performance is outstanding. She expresses author Tara Westover's naïve trust in her father's conviction that the world will end at Y2K; incredulity at the constant freak accidents of children being gashed, set on fire, or concussed while working in a junkyard (God will protect); and mortification at discovering her ignorance of the Holocaust and Martin Luther King in her freshman year at Brigham Young University. Whelan conducts a master class in the fear, dread, and self-doubt wrought by domestic violence as Westover recounts her older brother's terrorizing all while spewing religious righteousness." (AudioFile)  
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful
3 out of 5 stars
By Mel on 04-06-18

Gripping Read


There is no doubting that Tara Westover's survival and achievement is nothing short of an amazing feat and she is to be applauded for her strength and determination. You don't have to read between the lines to know very early in this book that this young girl (the author) is being neglected and abused on many levels, in the home of seemingly well-intentioned, loving parents. It creeps in and feels as blatantly incongruent and ugly as a blot on a peaceful bucolic scene. All the more insidious as a wide range of mental disorders throughout the family become obvious and are dismissed and justified -- denial.

I've had to sit back and reflect on this book and the author, as well as allow myself to read the reviews of other readers in order to be objective with Educated. True, it is a story of a miraculous survival and achievement by the author. It is also a sad account, to add to hundreds of accounts we've had to hear, about the destructive effects of abuse and mental illness. I've mentioned before in my reviews I worked with patients that sadly have had very similar stories and they are all heartbreaking so it is nice to read that Ms. Westover is on top of her ordeal. Healing and recovery is a challenging process and I felt Westover, at times, compartmentalized her experiences, speaking from the authority of her academic status.

Her voice in this narrative seems to waiver a bit between assuredness and doubt, which is natural for a recovering person. I could not help wondering -- which is why I waited to read other's reviews to see if I was being too clinical -- if this story was premature in that it felt like the road still reaches out far in front of her journey. It is my hope that in telling her story, feeling the support of readers that themselves gain strength from her fight and acknowledge her accomplishment, Ms. Westover can continue her fight with courage and grace.

*In spite of its capacity to foster compassion, humanness, and understanding, throughout the ages religion has at times been a source of abuse, persecution, terrorism, and genocide. These problems continue today across the world, as illustrated by religiously-based terrorism, clergy sexual abuse, and religiously-supported genocide.* Ms. Westover makes the distinction that her family is Fundamentalist Mormons, which are sects that have separated themselves from the LDS Church. This is a very interesting time in the world culture, and I suspect that by giving voice to abuse on so many different levels, Ms. Westover has added her voice to a brave force that is demanding long needed positive change in all areas where there has been abuse.

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39 of 43 people found this review helpful

5 out of 5 stars
By Bruce C. on 02-24-18

I highly recommend this book!

Did you have an extreme reaction to this book? Did it make you laugh or cry?

I just finished listening to Educated. Parts of the book left my crying. I grew up in the same high-demand religion. While my family was not as fundamentalist, isolated or controlling, the similarities were there. As a gay man, I didn’t fit in and had to make my break from the culture and set up appropriate boundaries with family. I also had to develop my family and friends of choice.

Any additional comments?

Tara tells the story of fundamentalism, patriarchy and an apocalyptic view of the world intertwined with bi-polar mental illness. The story is inspiring but shows how hard it is to separate yourself from the world view of your childhood and family. She overcame some very limiting views of how the world works.

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29 of 32 people found this review helpful

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