Educated, by Tara Westover

I had seen the cover of this book often in book stores and my local library. But it wasn’t until a coworker mentioned it to me that I went to the library and borrowed a copy. I’m a fan of memoirs and this one packs a punch.

Tara Westover is raised in the mountains of Utah by parents who are suspicious of the government, opposed to public education, and self-reliant to the extreme. I think it’s important to point out that this is not a work of fiction or non-fiction; rather, it’s a memoir, meaning it is someone’s memories of events that happened to them. A lot happens in our minds and brains that shape our perspectives. The author comes from a big family and there have been conflicting accounts and controversy about what she has written. And yet, what happened to her are experiences that are hers. I think, as readers, we must all come to an agreement of understanding that personal experiences and memories are subjective. Even facts that we hold to be true can be interpreted in many different ways.

Now, all of that stated, I found Educated to be a staggeringly pointed look at a childhood filled with no shortage of traumatic events. Tara’s interactions with her parents, her brothers, and other family members are fraught with emotion and drama. There are instances of abuse and neglect in so many forms. And yet, Tara persevered. One of the most memorable stories for me was her description of raising her hand in a college course to ask what the Holocaust was because she had never heard about it. My jaw dropped reading that; it is inconceivable to me. (And yet, even as I write that, I do not doubt that there are horrible historical events that happened to those of other ethnicity that I have no idea about. And that is sad and scary to me all at once.)

I enjoyed this book, and I admire the tenacity of the author.

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