Last Great Book I Read: Educated, A Memoir

WOW, this book...  It's hard to conjure up words worthy to describe its power.  I tend to love the memoir genre, and this memoir is compelling, gripping, and epic.  Truly, truly epic.  I listened to it via audiobook which I think made it an even more powerful experience.  Highly recommend!

Here's a little background about the author and her story.  Tara Westover grew up in rural Idaho, the youngest of a family of seven, born to survivalist Morman parents who constantly drilled the fear of the illuminati and impending end of the world into their children.  Tara was taught to fear the government, and distrust any medical establishment.  Until she was an adult, Tara never saw a doctor or nurse.  Born at home, her parents disagreed on her exact birth date, and she was never issued a birth certificate.  Isolated from mainstream society, Tara never received an education,having never attended any form of organized school.  Instead her days were spent salvaging metal in her father's junkyard, stewing herbs with her mother to make tinctures and essential oils, and fearing the wrath of her unpredictable and often aggressively violent older brother.

When another brother left to attend college and returned singing its praises, Tara decided to follow suit and leave the mountain and the only kind of life she'd ever known.  She self taught herself enough math, grammar, and science to take the ACT and be accepted into BYU. It was here that she first began to notice her own ignorance of the world, the ramifications of her isolated upbringing, soon learning that the version of history she'd been taught by her father looked nothing like that of her university textbooks.

This memoir is raw, vulnerable, and at times, quite difficult to read.  Tara spends her early adulthood learning how to exist in her new world of academia which is such a stark contrast to her life on the mountain.  She struggles to reconcile the lectures of her father, begins to understand his erratic behavior, and questions the values that have been ingrained into her as a child. Westover's coming of age story examines what an education is, and what it can offer someone, but also, at what cost?


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