#26 Book Review: Educated by Tara Westover
I can’t remember the blog that first recommended this book. All I know is that Educated received tremendous buzz from all of the blogs I read on a daily basis. I put it on a digital hold at my local library, and thank goodness I placed the hold early. Barack Obama added it to his summer 2018 reading list, so the wait list went through the roof!
Educated is the personal memoir of Tara Westover, who was raised by strict Mormons in rural Idaho. However, her family’s religious beliefs veered past strict into conspiracy theory survivalism. I thought the book was merely about being home schooled, but I had no idea it would involve violence, heartbreak, and questioning her entire belief system.
Reading this book was difficult. It was like watching a car crash in slow motion, and you can’t tear your eyes away. Tara Westover’s writing is deliberate. I could feel the tension building at the beginning of every anecdote, until it finally crescendoed in an act of violence.
Her father is the head of the family. This is typical in many religions, but it is clear in Tara’s family that his decisions cannot be questioned. The power of a charismatic leader is terrifying to me, and I am so lucky that no one in my family has been affected by this type of person. This is also why I shy away from religion, as people can do terrible things to each other under the the “protection” of their beliefs.
The author asks for no recognition for what she has accomplished by severing ties with her family, community, and everything she knew in order to find a different life. She appears to write her story as an act of therapy. The book is not a call to action or a tale of pity. Tara does not ask for nor does she seem to want our sympathy. The memoir is about her life to date, and her ongoing struggles with her family. Tara Westover does not ask for us to applaud her (numerous) achievements, but we should do so anyways. I fear I might not have had her courage or conviction if I was in her place.
I will absolutely recommend this book, and I consider it one of the best books that I have read to date in 2018.