‘Educated’ memoir reflective, modern fable


“Educated” by Tara Westover is a memoir which tells the story of her life through carefully detailed snap shots of important moments.

Written last year, this work has become a bestseller due to its ability to inspire and help us to reflect upon ourselves and our family. It is on the New York Times’ Best Ten Books of 2018 and is a nominee for the prestigious PEN award.

However, none of this would be possible without the author, Tara Westover, who recounts her journey in a way which makes us stop and listen.

Westover was born in Buck’s Peak, Idaho ,to a fundamentalist Mormon family. There, she and her seven siblings along with her mother followed the teachings of her father. He commanded the household and made every rule.

Because of his severe standards and paranoia, many of the children never attended public school and did not have birth certificates. Her father was sure the government would warp their minds with socialist ideas and turn them away from the truth. Her mother would occasionally try to disrupt this control, but eventually she abided by his will.

Westover spent many summers doing dangerous work with her brothers and father collecting scrap metal. Her father did not make safety a primary goal of his, so Westover and her brothers were injured numerous times. Her brother, Richard, had third degree burns which resulted from a gasoline accident.

Yet, Westover claims to have accepted this life and was content with it until her brother, Tyler, told her she was capable of more and convinced her to take the ACT so she could go to college. This education helped her escape her brother, Shawn, who was controlling and physically abusive.

“Educated” covers the impact of this abuse extensively. We become immersed in the emotions Westover feels as she deals with the disappointment of her parents and the torture of her brother. We can sense when this weight overcomes her.

But we also get to take part in the moments when she is happy and free. For example, despite the memories tied to it, she always recalls her childhood and her birthplace as beautiful. She also reveals how education has enriched her life and helped her overcome her deepest battles.

“Educated” deserves its title as a bestseller for many reasons, but most importantly, because of its ability to inspire us to overcome the obstacles in our way and reach for more through hard work.

It also manages to deliver a modern fable to adults, like us, who may have given up on ever reaching their goal or are worried they are on the wrong track. Her story reminds us to have faith in ourselves and all we are capable of.

5 out of 5 stars (5 / 5)