Book Review

Educated

Rating:

Educated is a memoir.  Given that I’m a fiction lover, reading two memoirs back-to-back and loving both is startling.  But I read this one in two days and was intrigued from the get-go.

The author, now in her 30’s, grew up in an isolated area of Idaho under the thumb of her father, who is fanatically religious, a survivalist preparing for the End of Days, and a case study in bi-polar disease.  She is seventeen when she first steps foot in a classroom.

Home-schooling was the subject that drew me to this book.  On the very first page, that pull increased.  I was humbled by the eloquence of the writing, by the lyrical descriptions of the author’s home mountain.  We pride ourselves on being educated: I’ve often told groups that I learned the nuts and bolts of writing in high school.  Tara Westover never went to high school.  And yet she writes more beautifully than I ever will.

So that’s one thing: exquisite writing.  Another is the fascinating story of surviving life with a fanatical father, a mother who alternately did her own thing and her husband’s thing, one brother who was her inspiration and another who was brutally abusive and a community that seemed to see none of it.  The fact that Westover managed to free herself and eventually get not only a college degree, but a Fellowship at Harvard and, eventually, a PhD from Cambridge University (England) is remarkable.

The price the author pays for this is heart-rending.  Her road isn’t easy or smooth, which makes it inspirational for those of us who can only begin to imagine her life.

A friend recommended Educated to me after someone recommended it to her.  At the time, I was looking for a book to pitch to my book group during our June meeting, when we pick our list for next season.  My book group is fairly eclectic; we read fiction, non-fiction, classics, short stories.  The subject of Educated  is one we’ve never discussed, and once I read the book, I knew I knew it would make for a good discussion.  It’s only our schedule for next spring.  Yay!!!