Educated: A Memoir
Review by Lili L.
Tara Westover is a masterful storyteller – I couldn’t put this book down and finished it in under 3 days. The book is broken up into three parts: First, Westover’s unconventional upbringing starts in a junkyard, growing up with eccentric parents who refuse traditional healthcare and government “oversight”. Aside from an outdated homeschooling science book, Westover does not receive any formal education until the age of 17. As she gets older, Westover finds herself seeking a different life – one involving leaving her small town and going to college. Westover’s experience in applying for college as a non-traditional student provides the reader with a glimpse into her resilience and mental fortitude.
The second part of the book is focused on Westover’s transition to Brigham Young University in Utah, where she is thrust into a brand-new social and educational environment with no guidance on how to succeed. It is in this setting she first learns about the Holocaust, the Civil Rights movement, and other key historical moments. Westover must also navigate living with roommates for the first time, as well as reconciling her strict traditional religious beliefs with the more “progressive” religion practiced by most students at BYU. Westover later studies abroad at Oxford, adding yet another layer of navigating new environments.
The third and final part of the story highlights Westover’s challenges in having one foot in each world – her family, and her “new” life as an educated woman. For me, this was the most difficult part to read, as Westover appeared to be abandoned by the majority of her blood relatives but still not fully accepted into her new world.
My biggest takeaway from Educated is that we should not be so quick to judge; everyone comes from such a unique background and set of circumstances, and everyone has a story. Westover’s is one of overcoming and resilience.