Educated: A Memoir Book Review

What can I say about Educated? The first words that come to mind are: raw, empowering, incredulous, and heartbreaking.

Educated: A Memoir is written by Tara Westover, a graduate of Cambridge, who was raised by survivalists in the mountains of Idaho who, due to their severe distrust in anything except their interpretation of the Bible, never attend school or go to the hospital. In this memoir, she tells of her harrowing journey of self-discovery through her experiences of life with her survivalist family, her self-education, and her perseverance.

What initially stood out to me about this book and why I choose to read it was the cover. The overall picture was a pencil but upon further inspection, it’s of a girl, nearly overshadowed by her surroundings of mountains. In many ways, this is representative of what she faces in the pages. I’m not just talking about the beautiful mountains that surrounded her childhood home. Many things that Westover faces are more than hurdles, they’re mountains that dwarf her.

There were many moments where this book moved me. Her descriptive language had me standing in the room in her place, feeling her helplessness, wanting so desperately to change the events that were unfolding. The author’s desperation to cover up how her brother abused her, verbally and physically, resonated with me. To be publically humiliated in the way that she was, and instead of seeking help, desperately pined to cover for her brother. The most unfortunate part was that on top of Westover struggling to come to terms with what his behavior truly was, was that her own family refused to see that he abused her. Incredulously, despite having witnessed it.


Truly I feel that this book gives us an incredible insight into a kind of life that we have all but forgotten some people here in America still live. One of severe distrust in one’s government and a dangerous misinterpretation of the Bible. Though, I know that this was not Westover’s purpose to denounce extreme religion, for me it conjured a reminder of the Crucible in the way a person’s religious beliefs so entirely impact people’s lives and well being.

I also found the way that she wrote the book to be intriguing, not just because it is so eloquent, but in many situations, she’s searched for other’s accounts so as to create the most accurate account possible. While her feelings are in the text, so are the facts aside from those feelings. She has this amazing awareness about the situations that enables her to describe the way she felt, and her viewpoint of the situation now that she is more distanced from it, looking at the facts of the experience.

Would I recommend this?

I would most definitely recommend this book. It’s a truly breathtaking true story that brings me to appreciate my own upbringing while also inspiring me to strive for more than what I may be told I can have.


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