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!!!