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.
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With over 330,000 ratings on Goodreads and an average rating of 4.48 (out of 5), you would think that you would be the majority of those that loved Educated. Sadly I did not.
Tara’s story is amazing. You would never think that what she went through happened in the last 30 years. She is so inspiring that she was able to go from no formal education to getting one of the top scholarships in the world.
The problem for me, was that I couldn’t connect with Tara and her story. I found the novel lacked an emotional element. I wanted to know more about Tara’s feelings – what was it like leaving America, what was it like taking an airplane for the first time, what was it liking being in a big city? I wanted to feel something.
I also found that some parts didn’t add up for me. There were different stories in the novel that Tara pointed out may not of happened the way she remembered. She remembers four people in the story, but out of those four, all have conflicting views on who was there. Tara also went through a time where she couldn’t rely on her own memory and had to rely on her boyfriend at the time. Because of this, I was hesitant on taking Tara’s story at face value.
2 calculators out of a potential 5. Sadly wasn’t the book for me or my book club (all gave the novel either a 2 or 3), but it still provided a lot of discussion!