Educated

Educated

A Memoir

Book - 2018
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"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. 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. As a way out, Tara began to educate herself, learning enough mathematics and grammar to be admitted to Brigham Young University. Her quest for knowledge would transform 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. With the acute insight that distinguishes all great writers, Tara Westover has crafted a universal coming-of-age story that gets to the heart of what an education offers: the perspective to see one's life through new eyes, and the will to change it."--Provided by publisher.
Publisher: New York : Random House, [2018]
Edition: First edition
ISBN: 9780399590504
0399590501
Branch Call Number: B Westover, Tara WES
Characteristics: xv, 334 pages ; 25 cm

Opinion

From Library Staff

Books written about zealous families are always a bit on the extreme side. Educated pushes this into dangerous territory. Tara is able to move past her upbringing, but the path there is anything but ordinary.

Comment
IndyPL_MoiraD Feb 18, 2019

This was my book club's pick this month, and I admit I wasn't looking forward to reading another heavy memoir. Once I started the book, however, I just couldn't put it down. I had to keep reading to find out how the author was able to break free from the often abusive, isolated environment of h... Read More »

Almost unbelievable at times, Tara's will and determination allow her to overcome her upbringing.

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IndyPL_AnikaW Nov 20, 2018

Incredibly moving story about a young woman growing up with an extremely religious sheltered upbringing.

Comment
IndyPL_CarriG Nov 27, 2018

Growing up in an abusive household is, unfortunately, not that unusual. Growing up in an abusive prepper Mormon household that believes every government and medical agency is out to get you and that the apocolypse would be a preferable place to exist is definitely more unusual. Growing up this wa... Read More »


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a
abuelita5
Sep 19, 2019

Could not put it down!

Chapel_Hill_KrystalB Sep 18, 2019

I had been meaning to read this for a while. Glad I finally did... what a great memoir. It's well-written and engrossing from beginning to end. Her life is definitely one worth documenting. Though few of us have had experiences at all like hers, a lot of us can still find inspiration in someone rising above their circumstances and making it where they truly want to be.

s
Sandi_martinez96
Sep 17, 2019

This book will stick with me forever!

k
kellydelancy
Sep 14, 2019

meh

4
4536o
Sep 13, 2019

Astonishing and deeply, very deeply, troubling. The author has been on a personal journey that is way too bizarre to be fiction. A caution: you will be in anguish until the very end.

j
jimg2000
Sep 12, 2019

Updated with quotes today.

From the other America, an unusual coming of age account of a young woman raised off the grid found herself "educated" while away from home and thrived in formal academic environment. Some of the "facts" drawn from memory when she was 5, 10 or 15 year old are frightening as in a Hollywood horror film. Thanks to being the youngest of 7 children (3 with PhDs) in the family and help from her siblings and extraordinary support from professors and friends from College, she learned of Holocaust, feminism, civil rights ...

Notes from interviews during her book tours:
-- After Tyler (her brother) left home to study for his bachelor’s degree, he left his textbooks and encouraged her to take the ACT standardized exams in mathematics, reading comprehension and written expression.
-- I think I met my first African-American when I was a senior at BYU, at age 22. I only met Jews when I went to Cambridge at 25. But I probably never had a conversation with someone who was African-American till my mid-twenties.
-- When I went to Cambridge, I was extremely homophobic. The only things I’d ever been told about gay people was that people become gay if they were molested as children, and that they will molest children when they grow up.

STPL_Emily Sep 07, 2019

Westover is an excellent writer with a story worth telling. This is a very compelling memoir!

k
kwsmith
Aug 27, 2019

Raised by a family of uneducated radical Mormon survivalists living in rural Idaho, Tara was seventeen years old before she set foot in a classroom. Her passion for learning eventually allowed her to earn a doctorate degree from Cambridge. The book shows how her already fragile relationship with her oddball family collapses after education awakens her mind to the real world. The book is both profound and touching in equal measures.

m
Ms_Tiddilybops
Aug 25, 2019

Not a terrible book, not a great book: just average. The beginning and middle were slow and I questioned whether I would finish it. The only time I felt really sucked in was on pages 316 & 317--I cried--so I suppose the ending was *almost* worth the time I put in. I would have enjoyed it more as a shorter story.

g
Girlmom9d3
Aug 23, 2019

In all honestly I struggled to get through this book. While Westover's childhood was definitely interesting, I didn't connect with her on the level I was hoping for until much later in this memoir. Perhaps it was too much storytelling and not enough reflection. Ultimately, an interesting read that deals with family, mental health, and the ability to overcome.

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Quotes

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j
jimg2000
Sep 12, 2019

I am only seven, but I understand that it is this fact, more than any other, that makes my family different: we don’t go to school. Dad worries that the Government will force us to go but it can’t, because it doesn’t know about us. Four of my parents’ seven children don’t have birth certificates. We have no medical records because we were born at home and have never seen a doctor or nurse. * We have no school records because we’ve never set foot in a classroom. When I am nine, I will be issued a Delayed Certificate of Birth, but at this moment, according to the state of Idaho and the federal government, I do not exist. Of course I did exist. I had grown up preparing for the Days of Abomination, watching for the sun to darken, for the moon to drip as if with blood.

j
jimg2000
Sep 12, 2019

…all the decisions that go into making a life — the choices people make, together and on their own, that combine to produce any single event. Grains of sand, incalculable, pressing into sediment, then rock.
===

“ What’s college? ” I said. “College is extra school for people too dumb to learn the first time around,” Dad said.
===

“There’s two kinds of them college professors,” Dad said. “Those who know they’re lying, and those who think they’re telling the truth.” Dad grinned. “Don’t know which is worse, come to think of it, a bona fide agent of the Illuminati, who at least knows he’s on the devil’s payroll, or a high-minded professor who thinks his wisdom is greater than God’s.”

j
jimg2000
Sep 12, 2019

My strongest memory is not a memory. It’s something I imagined, then came to remember as if it had happened. The memory was formed when I was five, just before I turned six, from a story my father told in such detail that I and my brothers and sister had each conjured our own cinematic version, with gunfire and shouts. Mine had crickets. That’s the sound I hear as my family huddles in the kitchen, lights off, hiding from the Feds who’ve surrounded the house. A woman reaches for a glass of water and her silhouette is lighted by the moon. A shot echoes like the lash of a whip and she falls. In my memory it’s always Mother who falls, and she has a baby in her arms. The baby doesn’t make sense — I’m the youngest of my mother’s seven children — but like I said, none of this happened.

j
jimg2000
Sep 12, 2019

One telling in particular has stayed with me. I am seven or eight and am in my room dressing for church. I have taken a damp rag to my face, hands and feet, scrubbing only the skin that will be visible.
===

How the paranoia and fundamentalism were carving up my life, how they were taking from me the people I cared about and leaving only degrees and certificates — an air of respectability — in their place. What was happening now had happened before. This was the second severing of mother and daughter. The tape was playing in a loop.
===
God couldn’t abide faithlessness, Dad said. That’s why the most hateful sinners were those who wouldn’t make up their minds, who used herbs and medication both, who came to Mother on Wednesday and saw their doctor on Friday — or, as Dad put it,” Who worship at the altar of God one day and offer a sacrifice to Satan the next. “These people were like the ancient Israelites because they’d been given a true religion but hankered after false idols.

j
jimg2000
Sep 12, 2019

I had misunderstood the vital truth: that its not affecting me, that was its effect.
===
I was fifteen and I felt it, felt the race I was running with time. My body was changing, bloating, swelling, stretching, bulging. I wished it would stop, but it seemed my body was no longer mine. It belonged to itself now, and cared not at all how I felt about these strange alterations, about whether I wanted to stop being a child, and become something else.
===

Dad said that the Government had programmed the computers with a six-digit calendar, which meant the year had only two digits. “When nine-nine becomes oh-oh,” he said,” the computers won’t know what year it is. They’ll shut down.” “Can’t they fix it?” “Nope, can’t be done,” Dad said. “Man trusted his own strength, and his strength was weak. ”
===

I’d never learned how to talk to people who weren’t like us — people who went to school and visited the doctor. Who weren’t preparing, every day, for the End of the World.

j
jimg2000
Sep 12, 2019

I was sixteen, had never taken an exam, and had only recently undertaken anything like a systematic education;
===
I began to study trigonometry. There was solace in its strange formulas and equations. I was drawn to the Pythagorean theorem and its promise of a universal — the ability to predict the nature of any three points containing a right angle, anywhere, always.
===

“ Tara can’t drive the crane,” Dad said. “It’ll take half the morning to teach her the controls, and she still won’t know what the hell she’s doing.” “But she’ll be careful,” Shawn said,” and I’m done falling off shit. ”
===
I am not sorry, merely ashamed.
===
I applied to BYU a week later. I had no idea how to write the application, so Tyler wrote it for me. He said I’d been educated according to a rigorous program designed by my mother, who’d made sure I met all the requirements to graduate.
===
Doctors were Sons of Perdition. Homeschooling was a commandment from the Lord.

j
jimg2000
Sep 12, 2019

“Holocaust. “ I don’t know how long I sat there reading about it, but at some point I’d read enough. I leaned back and stared at the ceiling. I suppose I was in shock, but whether it was the shock of learning about something horrific, or the shock of learning about my own ignorance, I’m not sure.
===

As a child, I’d been aware that although my family attended the same church as everyone in our town, our religion was not the same. They believed in modesty; we practiced it. They believed in God’s power to heal; we left our injuries in God’s hands. They believed in preparing for the Second Coming; we were actually prepared.
===

I don’t understand why I wasn’t allowed to get a decent education as a child.
===
I’d earned A’s in every subject except Western Civ. I would get a scholarship for half of my tuition. I could go back.

j
jimg2000
Sep 12, 2019

Rosa Parks. An image appeared of a policeman pressing a woman’s finger into an ink sponge. Dr. Kimball said she’d taken a seat on a bus. I understood him as saying she had stolen the seat, although it seemed an odd thing to steal.
===

The word and the way Shawn said it hadn’t changed; only my ears were different. They no longer heard the jingle of a joke in it. What they heard was a signal, a call through time, which was answered with a mounting conviction: that never again would I allow myself to be made a foot soldier in a conflict I did not understand.
===

Algebra threatened to put an end to my scholarship. The professor spent every lecture muttering inaudibly as he paced in front of the chalkboard. I wasn’t the only one who was lost, but I was more lost than anyone else. Charles tried to help, but he was starting his senior year of high school and had his own schoolwork. In October I took the midterm and failed it.

j
jimg2000
Sep 12, 2019

The test was in front of me. The problems were compliant, pliable; they yielded to my manipulations, forming into solutions, one after the other. I handed in my answer sheet, then stood in the frigid hallway, staring up at the screen that would display my score. When it appeared, I blinked, and blinked again. One hundred. A perfect score.
===

My life was narrated for me by others. Their voices were forceful, emphatic, absolute. It had never occurred to me that my voice might be as strong as theirs.
===
I was sitting in Psychology 101 when the professor read the symptoms aloud from the overhead screen: depression, mania, paranoia, euphoria, delusions of grandeur and persecution. I listened with a desperate interest. This is my father, I wrote in my notes.
===
…a student asked what role mental disorders might have played in separatist movements. “I’m thinking of famous conflicts like Waco, Texas, or Ruby Ridge, Idaho,” he said.

j
jimg2000
Sep 12, 2019

I wrote my paper on the effect bipolar parents have on their children. It was accusative, brutal. I wrote that children of bipolar parents are hit with double risk factors: first, because they are genetically predisposed to mood disorders, and second, because of the stressful environment and poor parenting of parents with such disorders.
===

According to some who were there, although my father was horribly burned, he did not seem in any real danger until the third day, when the scabbing began, making it difficult to breathe. Dehydration compounded the situation. In this account, it was then that they feared for his life, and that is when my sister called me, only I misunderstood and assumed that the explosion had happened the day before.
===

“The devil tempts him more than other men,” Emily said. “Because of his gifts, because he’s a threat to Satan. That’s why he has problems. Because of his righteousness.”

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pink_dolphin_3025
Mar 23, 2019

pink_dolphin_3025 thinks this title is suitable for 7 years and over

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