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  • Writer's pictureChrissy's Books

Educated by Tara Westover

Updated: Aug 22, 2020

Rating- 9/10

I cannot believe it took me this long to read this book! I’m sure everyone has heard of this best selling memoir right?! Since its release in February 2018, Educated has now spent two years on the non fiction NY Times best sellers list. It is also a Wall Street Journal and a Boston Globe best seller. It was literally on every best seller list for 2018; Good Morning America, The Oprah Magazine, NPR, The Economist, TIME, New York Post, and more! I have to also say that this was my very first audio-book! I have always been in denial and opposed to reading or I should say, listening, to audio-books because I will always be a print lover myself, but I thought I’d give it a go and see how it went. It was the strangest but also most natural thing I’d ever done! Let’s get on with the synopsis and my review of this heavily popular memoir.


Educated is an unforgettable autobiography about a woman named Tara Westover. We follow her life from a young naive girl, to womanhood as she leaves her survivalist family in the mountains of Idaho and goes on to pursue a PhD from Cambridge University.

Tara Westover lived a very sheltered life with her father, mother and 6 siblings. Tara was 17 years old when she first set foot in a classroom. Her family was so isolated from mainstream society that there was no one to ensure that they all received a real education, and no one ever intervened when one of Tara’s brothers became extremely violent. Tara’s father forbade hospitals, and didn’t believe in government run schools. He regularly prepared them for the end of the world by stockpiling canned goods and always had a 'bug-out bag' ready at all costs. Tara’s mother was a natural healer and midwife, and in the summer, Tara spent her time stewing herbs for her mother and in the winter, she worked at her father’s junkyard.

One of Tara’s brothers got himself into college and by seeing this, Tara decided to self educate herself. She taught herself enough that she was able to be admitted into Bringham Young University in Idaho, where she studied history and for the first time ever, began to learn important world events such as the holocaust, and the civil rights movement.

Tara’s quest for knowledge completely transformed her life and took her on an unexpected journey to self discovery. Her curiosity and education took her across various continents and to some of the most prestigious universities in the world. By travelling this far from her roots, only then, would she wonder if there was still a way back home.

My Review:

If I could describe this book into one word, it would be Engrossing. I could not stop thinking about this book. Anytime that I wasn’t reading it, I was wondering, what will happen next? What is Tara up to? It had me questioning everything like it’s nobody’s business.

From the very first page of this memoir, you are immediately pulled into her world with Tara’s incredible writing. It was a different experience for me as I had listened to the audio book, but the effect was still the same. She clearly has a strong command for the English language and writing in general, that much is true. As you read on, you are completely transported into her home life in the mountains of Idaho. She fully captured the atmosphere and her upbringing and it felt as if you were seeing everything right through her own eyes. I loved how descriptive this book was. It almost felt like you were reading a fiction story, and I had to keep reminding myself that wait, no, this is real. This is her life.

When Tara talks about her early life, you utterly become pulled into her naivety of what it was like to grow up with an incredibly overbearing father and a passive but caring mother in their unconventional life. It’s impossible to believe all of the later events that take place in Tara's life because you really get pulled into her little bubble that her family lives in in her upbringing. It was a strange and surreal experience. Tara was the youngest of seven children. Her entire young adult life was completely sheltered and all she knew was what was immediately around her, nothing more. I honestly cannot even begin to imagine what her life was like. To live in such an extreme way where you have no inclination of the outside world. It was fascinating and heartbreaking!

I don’t know much about Mormonism, so for me, this book was a real eye opener. I learned so much by reading this memoir. The amount of events that Tara goes through is unimaginable.

Educated is an incredibly amazing story, I actually completely understand why this book spent such a long time on all the best seller lists and was very much talked about by literally everyone. It definitely lives up to the hype, even more so than what I imagined! I won’t lie, at times, this book was very hard to read. A lot happened to Tara and what she went through made me feel angry and upset. I was purely shocked, sometimes I wanted to shake her, shout at her and I wanted to throw my phone across the wall (I was listening to the audio-book lol). I completely went through an emotional roller coaster, shock and bafflement in this book. As an outsider, it’s easy to judge someone and it is easy to know what to do in certain situations in life because you know better or you’ve been taught better. But imagine not knowing about mental health, or what is right and what is wrong, and being completely sheltered, shaped and formed by a tight knit and controlling family. What must that do to you mentally? How Tara became the amazing person she is today is beyond me. Also, well done for having achieved such a high education in your life Tara!

This book is incredible. Tara’s process of self discovery was earnest, raw and unfathomable. It is a story about fierce family loyalty, the struggle to self discovery, and the immense grief that comes with severing close ties. This is the kind of book that you will remember for years to come. I highly recommend it and it was definitely one of the best memoirs I have read in my lifetime. Completely inspiring. Brilliant.

Song Pick:

Whenever I think of this song, I’ll forever think of this book. I was trying to decide what message I wanted the song to relay and this classic tune hit the nail on the head! It completely describes Tara's life and her incredible story. I dare you to find a better song, ha. My perfect song pick for this inspiring and amazing story is; ‘Breakaway’ by Kelly Clarkson What a banger too!

Genre: Autobiography | Memoir | Non Fiction | Coming-Of-Age

Publication Date: February 20, 2018

Pages: 352 Pages

Reviewed by Chrissy’s Books


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