Book Review: Educated: A Memoir – Tara Westover

Title: Educated A Memoir
Author: Tara Westover
Publisher: Random house
Release date: February 20th 2018
Genre: Memoir


An unforgettable memoir in the tradition of The Glass Castleabout a young girl who, kept out of school, leaves her survivalist family and goes on to earn a PhD from Cambridge University

Tara Westover was seventeen 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.

Educated is an account of the struggle for self-invention. It is a tale of fierce family loyalty, and of the grief that comes with severing the closest of ties. With the acute insight that distinguishes all great writers, Westover has crafted a universal coming-of-age story that gets to the heart of what an education is and what it offers: the perspective to see one’s life through new eyes, and the will to change it.


This is one of those books I’ll be talking about until the end of days.

The thing that gripped me the most in this book is the infinite difference between Tara’s life and mine. At one points she talks about driving 50 miles to a bookstore to get an algebra book. My first thought was that in Belgium (the really small country I live in), there probably isn’t a place were you can be 50 miles from the nearest bookstore, even if you tried.

The differences between me and Tara is what made this book such an interesting read for me. I heard about doomsday preppers, but I have never met one and probably will never meet one (at least not in Belgium, I think). It really made me think how different my  life would have been. I can’t even begin to imagine how a life like hers would feel like.

I kept being amazed by the amazing writing style Tara Westover has.

My mind couldn’t handle how smart this woman is to have accomplished so much with so little help. I know she has a doctorate now and she has had to write many texts in the mean time, but I just can’t believe how incredibly smart she has to be to accomplish something like that with almost no help.

The story kept surprising me

Every time something completely crazy happened I thought it couldn’t get any extremer, I was wrong every time. Those people got extremely lucky! Some parts were rather gruesome and I had to skip small parts because my imagination was a bit too good for my stomach to handle it.

It’s also an extremely emotional story. I really felt for her and I really think she is my new role model and I was in a dire need for one to be honest.

I never met a person that knows herself (or himself) so well as Tara

This woman is such an example. I’m in my last year of my engineering studies and this was such a wake up call. Sometimes it’s hard for me to find the motivation to keep going these last months. Her story really made me remember that it’s such a privilege to get a good education without having to beg for one.


I recommend this book to everyone who has had the privilege of a decent education. It’s a real eyeopener that makes you remember how lucky we all are. It really helped me put all my own school problems into perspective.



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