A Memoir

Book - 2018
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The author recounts her life growing up with her survivalist Mormon family in Idaho. She lacked any formal education, but began to educate herself and taught herself enough to be admitted to Brigham Young University and then Cambridge.
Publisher: Toronto, Ontario : HarperCollins Publishers Ltd., [2018]
Edition: First Canadian edition.
Copyright Date: ©2018
ISBN: 9781443452472
Branch Call Number: 289.3092 WESTO
Characteristics: xv, 334 pages


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Jan 23, 2019

This memoir seemed more like fiction, as it stretched credulity more and more as it progressed. Westover explained the abuse, violence and ignorance of her family as mental illness without examining the broader societal context, patriarchy or religion, which is rather surprising given her educational credentials. She is not a critical thinker and the book reflects a deeply conservative perspective and one that does not seem honest.

mnaylor80 Jan 23, 2019

The family dynamic was disturbing yet intriguing. I followed this book with the The Great Alone by Kristin Hannah.

Jan 19, 2019

This book is extremely powerful but also gut wrenching and very disturbing. I found it very hard to read about such an extreme religiously fundamentalist family headed by a father who most likely was bipolar at a minimum. They lived in rural Idaho in a very sparsely populated area. The parents didn't register the birth of their daughter Tara until she was 9. She was the youngest of seven and only several of the oldest went to school for a few years. They were not hillbillies as someone suggested but led by a father who was a survivalist who believed that the government was not to be trusted and people had to prepare for the end of days as we knew them.

The children often worked in the father's junk yard in very dangerous conditions, with many horrific injuries occurring. The mental abuse from the father, with the mother's acquiescence, and horrific mental and physical abuse by the older brother made it difficult to read but also kept me reading.

Tara read the only books available, the Book of Mormon and writings by the Mormon leaders in the 19th and early 20th centuries. She managed to get a high enough score on the ACT exam (after painfully working to teach herself math) to go to Brigham Young University and found that she knew very little about the world and what she knew was not in line what really had happened. She was brilliant and eventually gets a PhD but while doing so much, damaged but highly functional. Two of her brothers also got PhDs and are distanced from the rest of the family. The other four siblings have a very low level of education.

If a reader has had family members with mental health issue, s/he may find this even more book difficult to read.

Jan 19, 2019

Often hard to believe, this is memoir as spectacle. If you want to understand American hillbillies, I think Glass Castle and Hillbilly Elegy offer more insights.

VaughanPLDavidB Jan 18, 2019

I'm not sure what to think about this book. I swing between it being one of the most amazing things I've read, to thinking it's too incredible to be true. It is vividly written, but at times is hardly to be believed. The author seems to have managed to overcome an upbringing that would squelch even the most intellectually determined child: a bipolar, fundamentalist Mormon father, an ideologically possessed mother, and a psychologically and physically abusive brother. In geekdom parlance, she's written herself as a real-life Mary Sue: an individual who has manifested extraordinary gifts apparently out of nowhere. Speaking through a lawyer, her parents deny most of what she has written about them (but then, what else would a lawyer say).

Jan 13, 2019

I am mystified by the very high rating this book receives because it really isn't very good. It has been critiqued as having considerable inaccuracies and there are many internal inconsistencies and claims by the author that just do not compute. A major one, given her academic achievements and those of one brother, is the claim that they received no actual home education. And yet, they could pass university entrance exams. You just don't pick up that level of ability that easily without a basic literacy. This is not to say that she did not have an abusive and troubling upbringing; however, I find her willingness to capitalize on that (possibly to sensationalize the reality) troubling. This book, in my opinion, is not about the positive effect of gaining an education - the author remains trapped in the family mire of emotional turmoil and less than accurate accounts.

Jan 08, 2019

If you have a hard time reading this book I encourage you to try the audio book. The reader really brings it to life.

Jan 08, 2019

EDUCATED is a powerful, compelling memoir about family, reinvention, and self-discovery. First-time author Tara Westover effectively describes the effects that social isolation, poverty, mental illness, sexism, abuse, and religious extremism had on her life. Even though at times these obstacles make the book hard to read, EDUCATED offers readers lessons in courage, persistence, resilience, and sacrifice and is a testament to the human spirit. A great selection for book group discussions.

Jan 07, 2019

I finished it....barely. I loath this book.

Jan 07, 2019

I really enjoyed this book. I had to remind myself repeatedly that Educated was non-fiction, because it was at times truly unbelievable to fathom what Westover endured throughout her life. I found myself cheering for her, in awe of her determination and achievements, and ultimately hoping she would recognize the negative family dynamic imposed upon her. Westover writes extremely well, and is able to very successfully portray vivid images of her unique childhood. I think this would make a great book club selection; the discussions to follow have potential to incite continued appreciation for the book. And that's the tea.

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Jan 08, 2019

“You are not fool’s gold, shining only under a particular light. Whomever you become, whatever you make yourself into, that is who you always were.”

Jan 08, 2019

“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.”

Jan 08, 2019

“Emancipate yourselves from mental slavery
None but ourselves can free our minds” — Bob Marley
p. 257

Dec 17, 2018

I was able to tell myself that it didn't affect me, that he didn't affect me, because nothing affected me....I had misunderstood the vital truth: that it's not affecting me, that was its effect.

ArapahoeMaryA Oct 23, 2018

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.

DBRL_ReginaF Mar 14, 2018

“You can love someone and still choose to say goodbye to them,” she says now. “You can miss a person every day, and still be glad that they are no longer in your life.”


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Dec 17, 2018

Tara Westover, the daugher of rural Idaho survivalists, was 17 when she first went to school. 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 educated herself, learning enough mathematics and grammar to be admitted to Brigham Young University. Her quest for knowledge transforms her, taking her over oceans and across continents, to Harvard and to Cambridge. Only then does she reflect on where she came from.

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