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An unforgettable memoir in the tradition of The Glass Castle about a young girl who, kept out of school, leaves her survivalist family and goes on to earn a PhD from Cambridge University Tara Westover was 17 the first time she set foot in a classroom. Born to survivalists in the mountains of Idaho, she prepared for the end of the world by stockpiling home-canned peaches and An unforgettable memoir in the tradition of The Glass Castle about a young girl who, kept out of school, leaves her survivalist family and goes on to earn a PhD from Cambridge University Tara Westover was 17 the first time she set foot in a classroom. Born to survivalists in the mountains of Idaho, she prepared for the end of the world by stockpiling home-canned peaches and sleeping with her "head-for-the-hills bag". In the summer she stewed herbs for her mother, a midwife and healer, and in the winter she salvaged in her father's junkyard. Her father forbade hospitals, so Tara never saw a doctor or nurse. Gashes and concussions, even burns from explosions, were all treated at home with herbalism. 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. Then, lacking any formal education, Tara began to educate herself. She taught herself enough mathematics and grammar to be admitted to Brigham Young University, where she studied history, learning for the first time about important world events like the Holocaust and the civil rights movement. Her quest for knowledge transformed her, taking her over oceans and across continents, to Harvard and to Cambridge. Only then would she wonder if she'd traveled too far, if there was still a way home. Educated is an account of the struggle for self-invention. It is a tale of fierce family loyalty and of the grief that comes with severing the closest of ties. With the acute insight that distinguishes all great writers, Westover has crafted a universal coming-of-age story that gets to the heart of what an education is and what it offers: the perspective to see one's life through new eyes and the will to change it.


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An unforgettable memoir in the tradition of The Glass Castle about a young girl who, kept out of school, leaves her survivalist family and goes on to earn a PhD from Cambridge University Tara Westover was 17 the first time she set foot in a classroom. Born to survivalists in the mountains of Idaho, she prepared for the end of the world by stockpiling home-canned peaches and An unforgettable memoir in the tradition of The Glass Castle about a young girl who, kept out of school, leaves her survivalist family and goes on to earn a PhD from Cambridge University Tara Westover was 17 the first time she set foot in a classroom. Born to survivalists in the mountains of Idaho, she prepared for the end of the world by stockpiling home-canned peaches and sleeping with her "head-for-the-hills bag". In the summer she stewed herbs for her mother, a midwife and healer, and in the winter she salvaged in her father's junkyard. Her father forbade hospitals, so Tara never saw a doctor or nurse. Gashes and concussions, even burns from explosions, were all treated at home with herbalism. 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. Then, lacking any formal education, Tara began to educate herself. She taught herself enough mathematics and grammar to be admitted to Brigham Young University, where she studied history, learning for the first time about important world events like the Holocaust and the civil rights movement. Her quest for knowledge transformed her, taking her over oceans and across continents, to Harvard and to Cambridge. Only then would she wonder if she'd traveled too far, if there was still a way home. Educated is an account of the struggle for self-invention. It is a tale of fierce family loyalty and of the grief that comes with severing the closest of ties. With the acute insight that distinguishes all great writers, Westover has crafted a universal coming-of-age story that gets to the heart of what an education is and what it offers: the perspective to see one's life through new eyes and the will to change it.

30 review for Educated: A Memoir

  1. 4 out of 5

    Angela M

    Difficult to read. Impossible to put down. A powerful, powerful book that you shouldn’t miss. I can’t just leave it at that because Tara Westover’s story deserves more than those few words. I don’t often read memoirs, but when I do I want them to be told by extraordinary people who have a meaningful story to tell and that would be faint praise for this book. It sounds odd to say how beautifully written this is because we are not spared of the ugly details of what this family was about, but yet i Difficult to read. Impossible to put down. A powerful, powerful book that you shouldn’t miss. I can’t just leave it at that because Tara Westover’s story deserves more than those few words. I don’t often read memoirs, but when I do I want them to be told by extraordinary people who have a meaningful story to tell and that would be faint praise for this book. It sounds odd to say how beautifully written this is because we are not spared of the ugly details of what this family was about, but yet it is beautifully written. I had to remind myself at times that I wasn’t reading a gritty novel, that Tara and her family were real as I got more than just a glimpse of a life that was hard for me to even imagine. A religious fanatic father, hoarding food and guns and bullets and keeping his family off the radar, not filing for birth certificates, not getting medical attention when they needed it, avoiding the government, the feds at all cost , keeping his children out of school, the paranoia, the preparation for the “Days of Abomination” - this is what we find in this place on a mountain in Idaho. There are horrible accidents and he won’t get medical help for his family. Her mother’s healing herbs and tinctures are used to treat the slightest scrape to the most horrible head injury or burns from gasoline to an explosion. If some thing bad happens it because that’s the will of the Lord. Her mother seems at times more sympathetic to her children, but she is complicit by her subservience to her husband. I don’t even know how to describe it other than gut wrenching to see the effects on this family of neglect in the name of religious beliefs and in reality mental illness. It isn’t just her father but the brutality by one of her brother’s which is more than awful and creates rifts between family members, That she was bold enough and somehow found the will to rise above it all while she is torn with the sense of duty, of loyalty to her family, the ingrained beliefs, still loving her family is miraculous. Going to college was the first time she’d been in a classroom, not knowing what the Holocaust was, learning about slavery, the depression, WWII, the civil rights movement. She doesn’t just get a college education but ultimately a PhD from Cambridge, a Harvard fellowship. She struggles for years to discover who she was, who she could be - a scholar, a writer, an independent woman. This is a stunning, awe inspiring story that will haunt the reader long after the book ends. Thank you to Tara Westover for sharing yourself with us. I received an advanced copy of this book from Random House through NetGalley. Thanks to my friend Diane for bringing this book to my attention. Without her review I might have missed this.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Will Byrnes

    On the highway below, the school bus rolls past without stopping. I am only 7, but I understand that it is this fact more than any other that makes my family different. We don't go to school. Dad worries that the government will force us to go, but it can't because it doesn't know about us. Four of my parents' seven children don't have birth certificates. We have no medical records because we were born at home and have never seen a doctor or nurse. We have no school records because we've never On the highway below, the school bus rolls past without stopping. I am only 7, but I understand that it is this fact more than any other that makes my family different. We don't go to school. Dad worries that the government will force us to go, but it can't because it doesn't know about us. Four of my parents' seven children don't have birth certificates. We have no medical records because we were born at home and have never seen a doctor or nurse. We have no school records because we've never set foot in a classroom. Educated is both a tale of hope and a record of horror. We know from the first page of her book that Tara Westover is a bright woman, a gifted writer with an impressive, poetic command of language. But her early life offered no clue that she would become a Cambridge PhD or a brilliant memoirist. She was the youngest of seven children born to Gene and Faye (not their real names) Westover, fundamentalist, survivalist Mormons, in rural Idaho. Tara Westover - image from her The Times We had a farm which belonged to my grandfather, and we had a salvage yard full of crumpled-up cars which belonged to my father. And my mother was a - she was an herbalist and a midwife. And as children, we spent a lot of hours walking on the mountain, gathering rose hips and mullein flowers that she could stew into tinctures. So in a lot of ways, it was a very beautiful childhood. - from NPR interview The children constituted his workforce in Gene’s scrapyard. Father was the law in their household, but it was a rule informed as much by significant mental health issues as it was by his ardent religious beliefs. In a less rural, less patriarchal, less religious community, theirs could easily have been deemed an unsafe environment. The scrapyard was a particularly dangerous place. …he just didn't have that bone in his head that said, this is dangerous; don't do this. And he had a really hard time understanding injuries even after they had happened and how severe they were. I just - I don't know what it was about the way his mind worked. He just wasn't able to do that. - from NPR interview Ruby Ridge had occurred when Tara was five, and fed her father’s paranoia. Everyone had to have head-for-the-hills bags for when the government, Deep State, Illuminati, choose your own boogeyman, would come for them. He had a profound distrust of the medical profession, believing that doctors were agents of Satan, intent on doing harm. He saw the herbalism Faye practiced as the only true, righteous treatment for one’s ills, calling her products “god’s pharmacy.” And he practiced what he preached, for himself as well as for his children, even after suffering a devastating injury. Maybe not an ideal way to make sure your kids reach adulthood in one piece. View from Buck Peak - image from Westover’s site Home schooling was also less than idyllic, with mom’s attention spread not only over seven children but to her work as an herbalist and later, in addition, a midwife. Luke had a learning disability, frustrating mom, who really had hoped to educate them all. Dad undermined this, dragging the kids out to do chores and learn practical skills. Eventually mom gave up. Education consisted of Faye dropping them at the Carnegie Library in town, where they could read whatever they wanted. Dad rustled the boys at 7am, but Tyler, who had an affinity for math, would often remain inside, studying, until dad dragged him out. …there was not a lot of school taking place. We had books, and occasionally we would be kind of sent to read them. But for example, I was the youngest child, and I never took an exam, or I never wrote an essay for my mother that she read or nothing like kind of getting everyone together and having anything like a lecture. So it was a lot more kind of if you wanted to read a book, you could, but you certainly weren't going to be made to do that. - from NPR interviewSuccessful schooling or not, Tara acquired a desire for and love of learning. Tyler, a black sheep, not only loved books but music, as well. This was a major tonic for Tara, who was smitten with the classical and choral music her brother would play on his boom box. Not only did she find a love for music, but she discovered that she has a gift for singing. Being a part (often the star) of the town musical productions gave her greater contact with peers outside her family than she had ever had before. It formed one pillar of her desire to go to school, to college, to study music. (I included a link in EXTRA STUFF to a music video in which she sings lead, so you can hear for yourself.) At age seventeen, Tara Westover attended her first school class, at BYU, clueless about much of what was common knowledge for everyone else, resulting in her asking a question in class about a word everyone, I mean everyone, knows. Oopsy. Her intellectual broadening and education forms one powerful thread in her story. How her natural curiosity emerged, was nurtured, discouraged, and ultimately triumphed. The other thread consists of the personal, emotional, psychological, religious, and cultural challenges she had to overcome to become her own person. The world in which Westover was raised was one in which a powerful patriarchy, fed by a fundamentalist religious beliefs, applied its considerable pressure to push her into what was considered the proper role for a young woman, namely homemaker, mother, probably following in her mother’s dual careers as herbalist and midwife. And what about what was the right course for Tara? There was some wiggle room. Once dad sees her perform on stage, he is smitten, and softens to her musical leanings. Male siblings had been allowed to go to college. But every step outside the expectations, the rules, came at a cost. Do something different and lose a piece of connection to your family. And family was extremely important, particularly for a person whose entire life had been defined by family, much more so than for pretty much anyone who might read her book. Westover as a wee Idaho spud - image from the NY Post A piece of this proscribed existence was a tolerance for aberrant behavior. Father was domineering, and was feckless about physical danger, even as it applied to his children. And distrustful of the medical establishment. His solution for infected tonsils was to have Tara stand outside with her mouth open to allow in the sun’s healing rays. Severe injuries, including Tara having her leg punctured by razor-like scrap-metal, a brother suffering severe burns on one leg, and even dad himself suffering catastrophic third-degree burns in a junkyard explosion, were to be treated by home-brew tinctures. He was also extremely moody, a characteristic that carried forward in some of the family genes. Tara’s ten-years-older brother, Shawn, was a piece of work. She felt close to him at times. He could be kind and understanding in a way that moved her. He even saved her life in a runaway horse incident. But he had a reputation as a bar brawler, as a person eager to fight. Sometimes his rages turned on his own family. And it was not just rage, sparked by trivialities, but cruelty, to the point of sadism. Tara was one of the objects of his madness. Dare oppose him and he would twist her arm to the point of spraining, drag her by her hair, force her face into unspeakable places and demand apologies for imagined offenses. Possibly even worse than this was her family’s denial about it, even when it occurred right in front of them. It is this denial that was hardest to bear. If your own parents will betray you, will not look out for you, in the face of such blatant attacks, then what is the value of the thing you hold most dear in the world? All abuse, no matter what kind of abuse it is, foremost, an assault on the mind. Because if you’re going to abuse someone I think you have to invade their reality, in order to distort it, and you have to convince them of two things. You have to convince them that what you’re doing isn’t that bad. Which means you have to normalize it. You have to justify it, rationalize it. And the other thing you have to convince them of is that they deserve it. - from C-span interviewHer brother, aliased as “Shawn” in the book, was a master manipulator, who, for years, succeeded magnificently in persuading Tara that what she had just experienced had never really happened. One frustrating aspect of the book is Tara’s dispiriting, but also grating ability to doubt herself, to allow others in her life, bullies, to persuade her she does not think what she is thinking, that she does not feel what she is feeling that she did not see what she has seen. She was living in a gaslit world in which multiple individuals, people who supposedly loved her, were telling her that what she had seen was an illusion, and that bad things that other people did were somehow her fault. Honey, wake the hell up. How many time ya gonna let these awful people get away with this crap? That gets old well before the end. I was very much reminded of victims of domestic abuse, who convince themselves that they must have done something to cause, to deserve the violence they suffer. One can only hope that she has been able to vanquish this self-blaming propensity completely by now. Years of therapy have surely helped. Tara at Cambridge - image from Salt Lake City Tribune She struggles with the yin and yang of her upbringing and finding her true self. Her father was extreme, but also loving. Her abusive brother had a very kind side to him. Her mother was supportive, but was also a betrayer. Her parents wanted what they truly thought was best for her, but ultimately attempted to extinguish the true Tara. The dichotomy in the book is gripping. At times it reads like How Green Was My Valley, an upbringing that was idyllic, rich with history and lore, both community and family, and featuring a strong bond to the land. Their home was at the foot of Buck Peak, which sported an almost magical feature that looked like an Indian Princess, and was the source of legends. At others, it is like a horror novel, a testament to the power of reality-bending, indoctrination, and maybe even Stockholm Syndrome. How she survived feeling like the alien she was in BYU and later Cambridge, is amazing, and a testament to her inner strength and intellectual gifts. Westover caught a few breaks over the course of her life, teachers, one at BYU, another at Cambridge, who spot the diamond in her rough, and help her in her educational quest. Reading of this support, I had the same weepy joyful feeling as when Hagrid informs a very young lad, “Yer a wizard, Harry.” When setting out to write the book, Westover had no clue how to go about it, well, this sort of a book, anyway. She had already written a doctoral thesis. But she did have stacks of journals she’d been keeping since she was ten. In figuring out how to get from wish to realization, one important resource was listening to the New Yorker fiction podcast, with its focus on short stories. And she took in plenty of books on writing. It is certainly clear that, just as she had the wherewithal to go from no-school to doctorate at Cambridge, she has shown an ability to figure out how to write a moving, compelling memoir. Educated is a triumph, a remarkable work, beautifully told, of the journey from an isolated, fundamentalist survivalist childhood, through the trials of becoming, to adulthood as an erudite and accomplished survivor. It is a powerful look at the ties, benefits, and perils of families. Ultimately, Educated is a rewarding odyssey you do not want to miss. Review Posted – 3/23/18 Published – 2/20/18 =============================EXTRA STUFF Links to the author’s personal, Twitter and FB pages Although the internet yielded no vids of Tara singing lead in her town’s production of Annie in the wayback, here is one of grown-up Tara singing lead vocal on The Hills of Aran with John Meed Interviews ----- C-Span - interviewed by Susannah Cahalan – video – 1 hour – If you can manage only one of these, this is the one to see -----CBS This Morning - video – 6:41 -----Penguin promotional video – 7:01 -----Channel 4 News - 8:46 -----NPR - with Dave Davies – the link includes text of the interview. There is a link on the page to the full audio interview – 38:18 - This is the source for several quotes used in the review, and is definitely worth a look and/or listen A sample of the audiobook, read by Julia Whelan, on Soundcloud A brief interview with Westover and Whelan re the making of the audiobook - on Signature

  3. 4 out of 5

    Emily May

    What a thoughtful, interesting fantasy novel. I'm kidding. I think. Some parts of this do seem farfetched, such as how an uneducated mountain wildgirl clicked her heels together, magicked up thousands of dollars (yeah, yeah, scholarships don't cover everything, you know), and went on to some of the world's most prestigious higher education centres. Intelligence is not the main thing required to attend Harvard or Cambridge; being able to pass exams and perform the system's dance is. Someone withou What a thoughtful, interesting fantasy novel. I'm kidding. I think. Some parts of this do seem farfetched, such as how an uneducated mountain wildgirl clicked her heels together, magicked up thousands of dollars (yeah, yeah, scholarships don't cover everything, you know), and went on to some of the world's most prestigious higher education centres. Intelligence is not the main thing required to attend Harvard or Cambridge; being able to pass exams and perform the system's dance is. Someone without formal education should have no idea how to do that. Also-- are some people magically cured by herbs and finger-clicking here or did I miss some medical intervention along the way? But I think, overall, I was just a little underwhelmed by this book because everyone seemed to find it so dramatic and awful and WOW. I've read a few books about isolated communities that go off the grid and enforce their own laws and, I have to say, Westover's experience felt pretty tame. Her family were survivalists who spent months canning peaches and hunting for scrap, but is this really that odd? My grandfather used to take us to collect blackberries and then we'd spend time making blackberry jam and canning. How avant-garde. They are also just really bad at going off the grid. I heard all these promises of "wilderness" and "mountain survivalists" but they have a phone and TV. Come on, guys! If you're going to do it, do it properly. I would say this family is more "eccentric" than "survivalist". Where the book does succeed is as a portrait of physical and emotional abuse. I think this was the most important part of the book and it's been glossed over in favour of people's delight at learning about weirdos running around wild in the mountains. (I'm not judging; I came for that too.) I also found it really interesting and sad when the author suggested that her father's paranoid delusions might have been undiagnosed bipolar disorder. It's a quick read with crowd-pleasing writing, I'll give it that. But it's hard to not feel like something is amiss, and certain events were probably exaggerated. Or, alternatively, Westover's "survivalist" family were sitting on a few on-the-grid dollars that conveniently popped up when equipment needed repairs and people needed to go to college. It's also possible that the writing lacked clarity because some things definitely didn't add up. Blog | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram | Youtube

  4. 4 out of 5

    Jennifer ~ TarHeelReader

    5 brilliant stars to Educated! 🌟 🌟 🌟 🌟 🌟 I grew up in a home of readers with a teacher mom and a dad who questioned my effort when I made an A-minus on my report card. When I began reading Educated, I was floored that Tara and her siblings were not in school, and they were not homeschooled either. How could this happen in modern times with compulsory schooling put in place long ago? Tara made it clear from the start that her family’s Mormon faith did not cause her father’s substantial paranoia; 5 brilliant stars to Educated! 🌟 🌟 🌟 🌟 🌟 I grew up in a home of readers with a teacher mom and a dad who questioned my effort when I made an A-minus on my report card. When I began reading Educated, I was floored that Tara and her siblings were not in school, and they were not homeschooled either. How could this happen in modern times with compulsory schooling put in place long ago? Tara made it clear from the start that her family’s Mormon faith did not cause her father’s substantial paranoia; however, he used his faith to feed it. This family not only did not have insurance, they did not believe in accessing traditional medical care. Horrific accidents and illnesses abounded due to the father’s and one sibling’s risk-taking, and no one went to the doctor. While the family was clearly having difficulty grappling with many things, I was struck by the love and devotion between them, even with the strained family dynamics. It was both fascinating and heartbreaking to watch those dynamics shift even more as Tara’s aspirations developed and were achieved. Strength. Grit. Perseverance. Tara’s tenacity resulted in her leaving the farm at Buck’s Peak and enrolling in college, after never attending a day of school. Her words were upfront, bold, but never complaining or looking for pity. Overall, I found Educated to be one of the most engaging, powerful, and inspiring memoirs I have read. Thank you to Tara Westover, Random House, and Netgalley for this reading experience I will treasure. Educated is now available!

  5. 4 out of 5

    Debra

    "It's strange how you give the people you love so much power over you" I am in the minority on this one, but this did not blow me away. I wanted to read this after seeing so many high ratings. I was expecting to love this book but ended up feeling meh about it. I actually wanted to hurry the book up in parts and other times found it to be a little repetitive. There were other times I wanted her to go into more detail or explain things more. One thing I had an issue with is that her family is desc "It's strange how you give the people you love so much power over you" I am in the minority on this one, but this did not blow me away. I wanted to read this after seeing so many high ratings. I was expecting to love this book but ended up feeling meh about it. I actually wanted to hurry the book up in parts and other times found it to be a little repetitive. There were other times I wanted her to go into more detail or explain things more. One thing I had an issue with is that her family is described as survivalists who educated their children at home - many of which do not even have a birth certificate - but then they had many modern conveniences. Her father has a junkyard and a huge distrust of the government. Her Mother becomes a midwife at her husband's urging and makes tinctures and uses herbs to cure those in her family and in their community. I do realize that the family acquired the telephone due to her Mother's job as a mid-wife but then I wondered how they paid for everything. . Tara grows up free or wild. She didn’t bathe that often, didn’t wash her hands after using the restroom, and is unaware of world history, and is quite comfortable living around bad odors and smells. She is abused by an older brother and no one seems to notice, intervene, or even care. They seem to be a reckless group - example: multiple car accidents, etc. I had a hard time believing some of the information presented. Case in point the first car accident in the book, Tara's father offered to pay for the damaged tractor. Where did they get the money? Just how much does farm equipment cost? It's not cheap, I know that. Even if the farm equipment purchased is used it still must be pricey. Plus, the damage to their car would mean they would need to purchase another. Then the family has another car accident. More money, lots of injuries, possible need for another vehicle, etc. I am not saying that none of this happened, but I had a lot of questions about how things were paid for Plus, this family seemed to be very accident prone, falling from surfaces, fires, head injuries. Was this because they were raised without any rules and became reckless, or did bad things just happen to them? Tara does want a better life for herself. She does educate herself at home, so she can pass the test to get into College. College isn't cheap, nor are book, nor is housing or food. Again, I wondered how she paid for all of this. Plus, once she got to college, she didn't seem to mind that her roommates were upset with the smell in their home. Dirty dishes, not bathing, not having clean clothes. I get if this is the norm, in the home she grew up in but when faced with other's displeasure, I would think a smart girl like her would have taken the hint that being clean and living in a clean environment is the norm, not how she was raised. Plus, at home a young man even pointed out to her that her home smelled as did she. There was a part of this book that I did enjoy. Tara's thirst for knowledge and teaching herself and gaining entrance to college without a formal education. I appreciated her struggles and having to learn how to "learn". She went on to achieve a lot in her life and it is impressive and commendable. Tara definitely was an under dog and I did root for her. She definitely changed her life and sought for better for herself. Even without a lot of support from her family, she found strength and kept going. This is what shined for me in this book with otherwise left me with questions. Who doesn't want to root for her? I did. Having said that, there were just too many questions raised why reading this. I don't care if someone is a survivalist, I would think one would still want their children to be safe and free of harm. The turning the blind eye to abuse was despicable. The family also had a lot of modern conveniences which did not gel with my idea of what a survivalist family would own or not own. But I am no expert on survivalist families. Her father clearly had some mental health issues and they contributed to his beliefs and possibly to their way of life. Yes, she suffered abuse. Yes, she grew up in a home with an untreated mentally ill parent, yes, it is all very sad but it was still not enough to make me enjoy the book. What worked for me in this book was Tara's drive for a better life. How with very little support from her family, she went out on her own and obtained an education. I appreciated her drive and determination. Her book is well written and I realize this is her account of how she remembers things from her perspective. I just was left with questions hence the 3 star rating. Again, in the minority with this one. Most love this book. It just wasn't for me. I received a copy of this book from Random House Publishing group and NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. See more of my reviews at www.openbookpost.com

  6. 4 out of 5

    Elyse

    Tara Westover’s book “Educated” is a distressing & discomforting - alarming & startling exposure of her Mormon fundamentalist family. “Educated” is a memoir of nonfiction - but names and identifying details have been changed. Aaron, Audrey, Benjamin, Erin, Faye, Gene, Vanessa, Judy, Peter, Sadie, Shannon, Shawn, Susan, Robert, and Robin are pseudonyms. Tara tells us in her authors notes: “This is not about Mormonism. Neither is it about any other form of religious belief. In it there are Tara Westover’s book “Educated” is a distressing & discomforting - alarming & startling exposure of her Mormon fundamentalist family. “Educated” is a memoir of nonfiction - but names and identifying details have been changed. Aaron, Audrey, Benjamin, Erin, Faye, Gene, Vanessa, Judy, Peter, Sadie, Shannon, Shawn, Susan, Robert, and Robin are pseudonyms. Tara tells us in her authors notes: “This is not about Mormonism. Neither is it about any other form of religious belief. In it there are many types of people, some believers, some not; some kind, some not. The author disputes any correlation, positive or negative, between the two”. Yet....as I read this novel - I not only felt angry - sickened at times - but really conflicted too. I had duel thoughts from the beginning of this novel to the end. I ‘did’ think - in part this book was about Mormonism ( let’s call a spade a spade). Tara and her siblings had backpacks filled with supplies to defend themselves ready to “head-for-the-hills” ....ready to run ( away from the government). Her dad, Gene, feared that the government might one day try to intervene their lifestyle. They were living off the grid. The kids had no formal education, or medical care when sick or injured. Instead of going to the hospital when needed - their mother, midwife/herbalist cared for them with alternative remedies. The government might have even brought in social workers to evaluate the health their family. Abuse? YES! This family stayed hidden. Abuse in many forms was hidden. Tara’s memoir-impart- also details ( summarizes) the transitions and challenges entering the academic world -Brigham Young University- Harvard- Cambridge ( PhD in History). Her educational journey was interesting — some of it maddening to me also .... not faulting anyone - but it was painful for me to discover just how ‘much’ about the world - life changing world events a 7 year old knew - at age 17 she ‘didn’t’ know - yet somehow was studying at a University. I questioned ‘how was this even possible’? Amazing. Tara had great support from a church entering college...which was wonderful. At times I felt frustrated ‘besides’ some greatly disturbing horrific frightening descriptions during Tara’s childhood. Tara’s academic accomplishments were extraordinary—but I couldn’t find her voice. She seemed - fragile - and often so uncertain of herself. This book is very well written - ( gloomy -perplexing - and wearisome at times from repetitive trips back home to seek validation from her family)- but it seemed her education brought her almost as much pain as it did inner fulfillment. Because Tara disputes any difference between negative and positive —admirable in ways —I had a hard time getting an experience of ‘HER’. I admit it’s my own frustration. This young girl had a childhood I could never fully comprehend- or know what scars remain...but the fact stands — she's living proof that amazing change is possible. Tara calls that “an education”. Alright ....I agree....but I’m still sad and feel incomplete. ( it’s my problem - not hers). There have been comparisons to this book and “The Glass Castle”. I understand that — but in reality they are presented very differently. Not only does Jeannette Walls not change any names in her book — she had just freedom to go on National television with her homeless mother. She didn’t need to hide or change identifying details. Tara Westover felt the need to keep names hidden. ( less freedom between the author and her readers for full- self expression). I understand- but a little less satisfying. I DO FEEL THIS BOOK OUGHT TO BE READ .... I DO SEE THIS BOOK’S IMPORTANCE....a story about an American family living by their own rules - ignoring others who don’t follow their beliefs. WE SEE TARA WESTOVER’S SKILLFUL LYRICISM in this book....very impressive— one of the most inspiring aspects to me. With her achievements, education, and talent, we got a well-written fascinating SAD STORY. I will think about Tara - worry & wonder about her in years to come. It killed me that Tara continued time and time again to seek validation - I’m not sure it’s over. She kept going home to a place where her own brother tried to kill her — She almost begged her mother to see her time and time again too— it was soooo painful to me that her mother rejected her ——but just as painful that Tara kept needing their approval. All so sad. I UNDERSTAND....yet I can’t see who she is through her own behavior. Tara has an inspiring academic education— a relationship with 3 of her siblings but trying to regain a relationship with her parents - her violent brother - and even one of her sisters she was once very close to was like trying to get blood from a turnip....it just wasn’t possible. It made for very frustrating reading. Why did Tara keep trying to fill her heart with the family that rejected her several times? And were abusive? And can a book education take that pain away? These are questions that lingered with me. Tara had a sweet - warm- soft voice on NPR. Her interviewer called her dad a ‘character’. She agreed. All light and fluffy. Tara share About MANY HAPPY CHILDHOOD MEMORIES on NPR. I was a little confused listening to her. Was she happy or angry? She seemed so happy about her childhood. Huh? Yet for years she suffered abuse which she tells us in her book. On NPR: She said the junkyard was playful and exotic, but was dangerous....but also fun. She said the Mountain where she grew up was magical and beautiful.....but they were closed off from the rest of the world. Duality....duality...duality ...... is a word that Tara used over and over again on NPR. Tara see’s two sides to her entire life. I felt a little “duality” in this story myself. I still feel Tara herself is hidden from this story. Can’t put my finger on it. But one thing does hit home — we can’t meet the rest of her family like we were able to of Jeannette Walls. So - this is clearly TARA’S memoir....and I’ll respect it at that. This is a valuable powerful read but I’m guessing there might be more to this story one day. Thank You Netgalley, Random House, and Tara Westover ( congrats to you on your book - may you continue to find inner peace and happiness) 4.4 Stars

  7. 5 out of 5

    Liz

    I grew up with my nose perpetually in a book. So, the idea of not being able to go to school, of being deprived of an education, hit me really hard. It was hard for me to grasp that things I take for granted, like knowing what the Holocaust was or who MLK, Jr. was, were black holes to Tara. Tara Westover is the child of a religious fanatic, someone who sees the government as pure evil. And by government, he means schools, hospitals, vaccines, seat belts, car insurance, etc. Everything we think o I grew up with my nose perpetually in a book. So, the idea of not being able to go to school, of being deprived of an education, hit me really hard. It was hard for me to grasp that things I take for granted, like knowing what the Holocaust was or who MLK, Jr. was, were black holes to Tara. Tara Westover is the child of a religious fanatic, someone who sees the government as pure evil. And by government, he means schools, hospitals, vaccines, seat belts, car insurance, etc. Everything we think of as civilization. His family awaits the Days of Abomination. There is a similarity here to The Glass Castle. Once again, we see how a mentally unbalanced father holds sway over an entire family. He thinks he speaks for God. Tara struggles with the knowledge that for her to go to school will mean a total separation from her father because he will never acknowledge that his ideas are not the correct ones. Parts of this book are cringeworthy. I found myself shaking my head that folks would allow severe suffering rather than a trip to the hospital or the use of real medicine. I’ll warn you that some of these sections are not for the faint of heart. The descriptions are sickening. I know little to nothing about the Mormon faith. Certainly, the faith of this family is not the true Mormon faith. But you get glimpses enough to also realize that there is a strong anti-woman bias in the faith and that women are definitely second class citizens. Broodmares more than humans on a par with men. This book doesn’t sugarcoat things. It’s not an education makes everything better kind of story. Tara continues throughout the book to struggle to find her way, to stand up for her beliefs. Hell, to find her own beliefs. This is an amazing book. It makes you realize how easy your life is. And how strong folks like Tara are to be able to rise above their beginnings and be able to fight back against the attempts of family to hold them down. I’m willing to bet this book makes it onto a lot of best of 2018 lists. It will certainly be on mine. Highly recommend! My thanks to netgalley and Random House for an advance copy of this book.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Debbie

    5 OMG How did she end up alive and educated? stars [News flash: I see that this review is WAY too long! I’m such a blabbermouth! Feel free to skip sections. I went way overboard. Geez….] Tara did a lot more than ride a pogo stick to get from a junkyard in Idaho to a Ph.D. in Cambridge. Meanwhile, I’m bouncing on mine, going high and far to escape her whacked-out father and super-scary psycho brother. Plus, face it, I bring out the pogo stick when it’s a fantastic read and believe me, this qualifies 5 OMG How did she end up alive and educated? stars [News flash: I see that this review is WAY too long! I’m such a blabbermouth! Feel free to skip sections. I went way overboard. Geez….] Tara did a lot more than ride a pogo stick to get from a junkyard in Idaho to a Ph.D. in Cambridge. Meanwhile, I’m bouncing on mine, going high and far to escape her whacked-out father and super-scary psycho brother. Plus, face it, I bring out the pogo stick when it’s a fantastic read and believe me, this qualifies. Holy moly what a tough and bizarro life this amazing woman has had, and oh what a writer! She looks normal, whatever that means. I was so jazzed after reading this book, I went online and watched every interview with Tara that I could find (and there are many; I’ve added a few at the end of this review). I just had to see and hear this woman, this woman who had a strange, horrendous, and dangerous childhood and lived to tell about it—and so eloquently. She’s only in her 20s—so young to be so successful. From the interviews, I see that she happens to be articulate, quick-witted, and confident, and she totally passes for normal, whatever that is. On the outside, you don’t see the scars, the scars that have to exist on her psyche after the hellacious childhood she endured. Spare me the scenery, I want the juice! I didn’t love this book for the first half hour or so of reading; I thought I was in deep do-do. Again, it’s that damn description—which just isn’t my style. The book opens with Tara describing the beauteous mountain that she grew up on. It was perfectly written; a creative writing teacher would have been damn proud of her. But I was screaming inside, “This is a memoir! Tell your story!! Give me some juice! Tell me what happened and how you feel. Save the mountain business for a poem, will you please?” Ha, the mountain was affecting me too—I didn’t like it because it was this giant barricade blocking me from feeling anything about this writer or her story. Luckily, the mountain talk stopped and then I got pulled in real fast. And as I got into the story and forgave her for her brief stint with DD (description disorder, which some writers are afflicted with), I have to admit I sort of liked that she described the mountain and her love for it. The mountain gave her some feeling of safety and peace, and its beauty stayed with her as she trekked to places far away to get her education. Refraining from spilling all the beans. I could sit here and write a Cliffs Notes version of her life, just because I’m so excited to share it, but I’ll try to put a sock in it (one of the two that were knocked off my feet by the power of this story) because you really need to experience this book all for yourself. Dad buried gas and guns. Tara is the youngest of seven kids, all raised in the mountains of Idaho by a madman father who was a religious fanatic and believed the end of the world was coming. He buried gas and guns so that they could survive after the end came. He thought the government, schools, and medicine were all bull—and dangerous. It was all about God’s will and Satan’s grip. He was charismatic and forceful. Although Tara doesn’t think of it as a cult, it sure seemed like a family cult to me, with her dad as the far-out leader. He brainwashed all of them. She says she’ll always have to stop and question whether what he said was true. They are Mormons, but the type of religion is beside the point. Dad is an extremist, that’s all we need to know. Tara says right up front that the book is not about Mormons. I absolutely hate religious rantings, but luckily no one is pushing the religion; Tara is just telling us what it was like around her house. Tara doesn’t talk about her religious beliefs today; I’m mildly curious. At the time, she believed everything he said. The state didn’t know Tara existed. Tara doesn’t have a birth certificate and doesn’t know her birthday--just an approximation. How weird would that be? She was born at home and her father didn’t register her existence because he didn’t want the government to make her go to school. When she is seven, she says: “…When I am nine, I will be issued a Delayed Certificate of Birth, but at this moment, according to the state of Idaho and the federal government, I do not exist.” Burns and gashes and raccoon eyes. I will say that this memoir reads like fiction. It’s hard to believe that it’s not. Expect to bite your lip and grimace and scream inside as you read detailed descriptions of MANY accidents that happened to Tara and her family members. Burns and gashes and raccoon eyes and brains hitting concrete. Some people say that she probably misremembered or exaggerated, but I say you don’t make up seeing your brother’s brain peeking out of his skull. How did they all stay alive? Psycho bro. And then there’s the mental and physical torture that her psycho brother Shawn inflicted on Tara and others. Oh, he’s a cutie all right. He broke her fingers, put her head in the toilet—normal stuff like that. If there was ever a need for a therapist…. Doesn’t every kid risk their life working in a junkyard? Tara doesn’t play the victim. And she doesn’t hate her family—which at first seems hard to believe. But she says her life seemed normal to her: she had nothing to compare it to, for one. All kids must help their fathers work; her dad just happened to own a junkyard with dangerous equipment. How could she know that other families didn’t get injured all the time? How did she know that other families went to hospitals instead of using herbs to cure everything? (Her mom is an accomplished herbalist.) And she knew her parents loved her and meant well. Dad couldn’t help it that he was crazy. He did the best he could. So despite growing up in this intense, isolated family with a mad father, an abusive brother, horrific accidents, and a fear of the apocalypse, she doesn’t think she had a terrible childhood-- and she has many good memories. Wow. Isn’t Europe a country? Her formal education began when she was 17 when, after studying on her own for the ACT exams, she got into Brigham Young University. Before this, she had never stepped foot in a classroom. She had never heard of the Holocaust or the civil rights movement. She thought Europe was a country. She didn’t think to read her textbooks; she thought she was supposed to just look at the pictures. Despite this, she ended up at Cambridge. She says getting an education is not about making money, but about making a person. Hell-bent on getting educated. I identify with her being hell-bent on getting educated and knowing she had to do it herself. My parents wouldn’t send me to college (they wanted me to be a flight attendant, but they did worry I was too short). I had an intense drive to go to college. I went to the library to find out which city had the most colleges and that was Boston, with 58 of them! When I was 18, I moved there, determined to get accepted into one that I could afford (I did.) But wait, I must stick to Tara’s story. I just wanted to say that I identified with her drive and her success in getting through college. (Ha, I wasn’t anywhere near as smart as her; I certainly didn’t end up at Cambridge University!) Her education (for her, an awakening) included taking psych courses. She realized then that her dad was probably mentally ill, and this knowledge allowed her to forgive him. He couldn’t help being scary, controlling, and fanatical. And he didn’t purposely put her in harm’s way in the junkyard; he just didn’t have the ability to see danger. Psych classes also helped her become super self-aware. I loved the parts in the book where she analyzes herself. One thing she talked about was gaslighting—the process of people denying your reality and making you feel crazy. For example, this happened when she tried to tell her parents what her psycho brother had done to her. Although her mom first believed her, she soon changed her tune and sided with Tara’s father, denying that such bad things happened. Tara says she started doubting her sanity—which has to be scary. She says she had a breakdown at one point. Not surprising. Run, Tara, run! The only frustrating thing about her book is watching her return, time and time again, to visit her family. Quick, Tara, jump on my back as we pogo-stick on out of there! NOW! Psycho, sadistic bro Shawn is just too damn scary! He cranked it up a notch every time she visited, and I was scared he would seriously mess her up—break a bigger bone, give her brain damage, throw her off the mountain, something really bad. Part of her need to return was to win her family’s approval (and Shawn just happened to live there too, so there was no escaping him). But she also wanted to expose Shawn and to warn them about him, since he was attacking other people too. Plus, people who live together a long time get imprinted on each other. We can’t underrate how much the existence of a history ties people together. I think the only way she would have severed ties would be if there had been sexual abuse. The skeptics. Some critics doubt whether her story is true, or they think it’s exaggerated. She admits that we can’t always believe our memories, that they are tricky. To try to make her story as accurate as possible, she looked back through her journals. Usually journals are full of fact, not fiction, so I believe it’s a good source for her truth. Also, a couple of her brothers have corroborated her memories. I don’t think she made this stuff up. I’m not sure you can make this stuff up, especially the level of detail she gave for injuries and reactions to injuries. I buy her story—hook, line, and sinker. Her interviews are factual, analytical. In fact, she’s a little stoical. She seems to have intellectualized her trauma, which is a common defense mechanism. I’m probably just full of it, but I’m thinking that if she were a storyteller who wants to wow her audience with a wild story, she’d appear more animated, less analytical. She’d want to dwell on the juice, which she doesn’t do. In the longer interviews, she discusses her philosophy on education—not the kind of stuff that makes an audience wriggle in glee. I think of her as a reporter—she reports on the madness but she also reports on the scenery (remember the mountain talk that I didn’t love at first). She isn’t interested in creating fiction. Airing dirty laundry. There are a few scathing 1-star reviews on Amazon by family members and friends of the family. They say that most of what Tara says isn’t true, that the family is wonderful and not so isolated, that Tara’s dad helped fund her college. Tara even says in her book that he helped her out financially. He didn’t want her to go to college, but he didn’t prevent it either. These negative reviews say that Tara is unstable (let me say that in interviews, she does not in any way appear or sound weird). Of course they would say that. What self-respecting family wouldn’t be pissed at someone airing their dirty laundry? And again, it’s that memory thing. Put a bunch of siblings in a room and ask them about something that happened in their childhood, and they’ll all have a different memory of it. Plus there’s the truth that every sibling has a unique relationship and experience with their parents and with each other. At this point, most of Tara’s family (parents and a few sibs) have shunned her. I’m sure that not having her family’s support is killing her; a family has such power over you. No one wants their family to shun them. Luckily, she is close to a couple of brothers. In the book, she gives them credit for helping her. It’s not a woman, it’s a pencil! Now for some silly cover talk. For the longest time, I thought this was an artsy cover showing the back of a woman. She has this little head with long dark hair, and she’s wearing a red skirt that’s way bigger than her head. Then, what? OMG, it’s not a woman, it’s a pencil!! Very clever! Days pass before I see that there’s a little person standing on the pencil! It’s supposed to look like a girl standing on a mountain side, like Tara and her mountain. Wow! What an enticing and cool cover. Check out her interviews: Here are a few of the interviews I liked. (Warning: The one in Cambridge is really long.): https://www.bing.com/videos/search?q=... https://www.bing.com/videos/search?q=... https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rTLK5... Thanks to NetGalley for the advance copy.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Darwin8u

    "Not knowing for certain, but refusing to give way to those who claim certainty, was a privilege I had never allowed myself. 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." - Tara Westover, Educated: A Memoir This book feels like it was written by a sister, a cousin, a niece. Tara Westover grew up a few mountains over from my dad's Heglar ranch. I don't know her. Don't know her family. S "Not knowing for certain, but refusing to give way to those who claim certainty, was a privilege I had never allowed myself. 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." - Tara Westover, Educated: A Memoir This book feels like it was written by a sister, a cousin, a niece. Tara Westover grew up a few mountains over from my dad's Heglar ranch. I don't know her. Don't know her family. She grew up about 70-80+ miles South East as the crow flies, but realistically, it was a 1.5 hours drive difference, and a whole planet of Mormonism over. I didn't grow up in Idaho. I was born there and returned there yearly. But this book is filled with the geography, culture, behaviors, mountains, religion, schools, and extremes I understand. She is writing from a similar, and often shared space. I didn't just read this book, I felt it on every page. Her prose was amazing. The memoir danced at parts, while a couple pages later, I would be sent up for air. I often found myself having to talk through parts of the book with my wife while reading. It flowed. Some books seem to remove friction while you read. My wife abandoned work for a day to read it. It consumed us. This book reads like a modern-day, Horatio Alger + The Education of Henry Adams: An Autobiography. However, it isn't just a book about how a girl with little formal education from a small town in Idaho makes it to Cambridge. It is also a tale of escape, and a historiography. Westover is using her own life to do a popular memory study on herself. She is looking at how she viewed her religion, her background, her parents, and her education. She explores how those memories and narratives change and reorient based upon proximity to her family, her father. These narratives especially begin to reorient as she becomes "educated." I bought a copy and before I even read it, I gave it to my father to read (He grew up in Heglar, ID). Then I bought another couple and yesterday and today my wife and I raced to finish our respective copies. We bored our kids talking about it over two dinners. We both finished it within minutes of each other tonight. Tara Westover's memoir hit me hard because of the struggle she has owning her own narrative. Through many vectors I related to her (we both graduated from BYU with Honors, were both were from Idaho, educated Mormons, and both have preppers in the family). My family, while sharing similar land, a similar start, and a similar undergraduate education, however, are not Tara's. And that is what made this memoir so compelling. It was like reading a Dickens novel, but one that was set in your neighborhood. It was moving, sad, and tremendous. In the end, I was attracted by how close the story felt, but I was also VERY grateful her story wasn't THAT close.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Karen

    Wow! Tara Westgrove is one of the strongest, and bravest people I have ever read about! This woman grew up as the youngest child in a big survivalist, Mormon family, in Idaho at Buck Peak. So much danger for her in that life, mostly because of her father and one of her older brothers. This memoir is so brutal at times and hard to read, your heart just breaks for this girl, and for some of her siblings. Tara rises up to become extremely “educated” despite the fact that she never attended school, an Wow! Tara Westgrove is one of the strongest, and bravest people I have ever read about! This woman grew up as the youngest child in a big survivalist, Mormon family, in Idaho at Buck Peak. So much danger for her in that life, mostly because of her father and one of her older brothers. This memoir is so brutal at times and hard to read, your heart just breaks for this girl, and for some of her siblings. Tara rises up to become extremely “educated” despite the fact that she never attended school, and was barely homeschooled. Her academic achievements were fascinating to read about, especially with all the turmoil in her life. Recommended!!!!! What a story! Thank you to NetGalley and Random House for the advanced ebook!

  11. 5 out of 5

    PorshaJo

    This one first came to my attention via a GR review. I thought wow, I need to read this now. The wonderful Traveling Sisters group set it up as a slow read and I was in. Grabbed a copy from NetGalley and was ready to go. BUT.....and a big BUT......I didn't like this one, I had to force myself to finish. Had it not been for the group read, I'm sure I would have DNF'd this one. So I'm probably in the minority in not liking this one. It was more of a 'having a hard time believing the story' kinda th This one first came to my attention via a GR review. I thought wow, I need to read this now. The wonderful Traveling Sisters group set it up as a slow read and I was in. Grabbed a copy from NetGalley and was ready to go. BUT.....and a big BUT......I didn't like this one, I had to force myself to finish. Had it not been for the group read, I'm sure I would have DNF'd this one. So I'm probably in the minority in not liking this one. It was more of a 'having a hard time believing the story' kinda thing. Tara details her life growing up in the mountains. She paints a picture of this wild child who doesn't bathe, or wash her hands after using the toilet (her grandmother had a fit about this), is quite ignorant, but yet...she self teaches herself to get into a prestigious college. She talks about her childhood and her parents seems so bad - no schooling, must work and earn money, her father seems to be a religious zealot who harbors a fear of the govt, her mother creates tinctures that cure people from near death. It just became a bit much and I was having a hard time believing it all. Multiple car accidents, severe burns, head trauma, and all cured with herbs. But then she wants to go to school, so she does...college, gets a PhD. Where did she get the money? They didn't seem to have much money. Yet, being in the 'mountain' rustic home, they had a phone, tv, internet. I dunno, it was just getting to be a bit much for me to believe. She ended up having multiple siblings teach themselves, go to college, and get advanced degrees. Really? A memoir is defined as an autobiography or a written account of one's memory of certain events. Maybe this is how she remembers everything, maybe it really all happened this way. I really don't know. But it all just did not add up for me. I had so many questions about everything. I have a family member who remembers his childhood different from how I remember HIS childhood. So it happens. I'll just say thanks to NetGalley for an advanced copy of the read and this in no way influenced my review.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Carol (Bookaria)

    I was blown away by this book. I finished it a few days ago and can’t stop thinking about it. Tara Westover grew up under the watchful eye of a survivalist and fundamentalist family. Her parents did not believe in sending children to school for fear of being brainwashed, they did not believe in doctors, hospitals or medication. Whenever a member of the family was injured they would be treated at home with tinctures, herbs, and homemade remedies. There is a lot more to the story than this brief de I was blown away by this book. I finished it a few days ago and can’t stop thinking about it. Tara Westover grew up under the watchful eye of a survivalist and fundamentalist family. Her parents did not believe in sending children to school for fear of being brainwashed, they did not believe in doctors, hospitals or medication. Whenever a member of the family was injured they would be treated at home with tinctures, herbs, and homemade remedies. There is a lot more to the story than this brief description. The book is captivating, emotional, and powerful. The writing is beautiful and the author makes emphasis in recounting her memories and struggles as faithfully as she remembers them. Her journey is incredible and inspiring. This is one of the best memoirs I’ve read and highly recommend it to all.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Linda

    I must tell you....... Educated: A Memoir scalded the very edges of my soul. It took me through a whole gamut of my own emotions from belief to disbelief, from hesitation to doubt to wariness, and most importantly, from the weightiness of compassion and empathy to the restrictions of frustration and anger. Tara Westover tells her story straight out through the reflections seen by her own eyes, her own jagged experiences, and in her own words. As you step inside of Tara's story you will certainly h I must tell you....... Educated: A Memoir scalded the very edges of my soul. It took me through a whole gamut of my own emotions from belief to disbelief, from hesitation to doubt to wariness, and most importantly, from the weightiness of compassion and empathy to the restrictions of frustration and anger. Tara Westover tells her story straight out through the reflections seen by her own eyes, her own jagged experiences, and in her own words. As you step inside of Tara's story you will certainly have moments in which vexation will sit down right next to you and shake its head in disbelief and sorrow. Truth comes in variations of light. We live in a world in which we sift life experiences of our own and others through an internal grid. Does it shake out right in our minds? Can we relate to any of this? Or do we see the world through tunnel vision? Our experiential backgrounds, existing in the light of positivity or in the deepest caves of darkness, form the prism for which we view life. We form our values and codes of conduct normally through trial and error. We receive feedback and reinforcement, ideally, through our family unit. Tara's self-expressed reality is a reality for more individuals in some way, shape or form that we can even begin to image. There is no sugar-coating this story. Be prepared for that. Gene Westover is a self-proclaimed prophet of impending doom. His social revolutionary nature and his transfixion with his skewed religious beliefs bled into this family with dire emotional and physical consequences. His children seemed to be no more than members of a work crew who were manipulated and mind-controlled in his demands for loyalty at all costs. Faye, the mother, left a "normally functioning" childhood home only to be squelched under the thumb of a very sick man. She had that internal grid of right and wrong within her, initially, and buckled under to his demands at the price of her own children's well-being. No salve, no herb, no tincture can cure that, dear woman. We, as readers, watch the slow, painful motions of Tara trying to break free from this toxic environment. I rallied behind her in her transition. But I mourned her inability to warn Emily of the nightmare that she was encountering in the likes of her demented brother, Shawn, before they married. I also mourned Tara's constant returning to the seen of the crime, almost like a battered wife syndrome, seeking approval and acceptance.......seeking to be re-engaged with this dysfunctional tribe. Gene and Shawn poisoned this well. While I celebrate Tara's eventual life achievements, I know in my heart that she will always be broken inside from the entrapment she lived through and continues to live through. "Nothing touches me" are her own words. It is most difficult to bloom in life when your very thoughts are suffocated before they can even find a voice. It is my sincere hope that Tara's words, truth-bound or not, will reach into that darkness that exists in others right now in order for them to find their own voice. Breaking free seems like the weight of granite tied to one's ankles. Difficult, but not impossible "if only" the someone, somewhere were more vigilant to the plight of our neighbors. We, as a society, are so observant and wise after the fact. Seeing eyes that blur into blindness. I received a copy of this book through NetGalley for an honest review. My thanks to Random House and to Tara Westover for the opportunity.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Justin Tate

    A monumental memoir that should be required reading for all. The description doesn't do it justice. It's not about getting a PhD, it's about growing up in a family that doesn't believe in school, thinks doctors are a part of a sociologist conspiracy, and that any day the government will shoot them dead--if the end of times don't come first. The experiences Tara describes are horrific, yet oddly relatable--even if your family is nothing like hers (and let's hope it isn't). By the end, she has to A monumental memoir that should be required reading for all. The description doesn't do it justice. It's not about getting a PhD, it's about growing up in a family that doesn't believe in school, thinks doctors are a part of a sociologist conspiracy, and that any day the government will shoot them dead--if the end of times don't come first. The experiences Tara describes are horrific, yet oddly relatable--even if your family is nothing like hers (and let's hope it isn't). By the end, she has to come to terms with balancing family bonds and having the strength to see past their warped sense of reality. There's really no words to describe it, but I'd start with moving, inspiring, shocking and un-put-downable. Stop wasting your time reading this review and start reading the book! IT'S SO GOOD!!!

  15. 4 out of 5

    Larry H

    Wow. Harrowing, heartbreaking, and ultimately triumphant, Educated is at times difficult to read and not at all what I expected, but I couldn't tear myself away from it. "Mother had always said we could go to school if we wanted. We just had to ask Dad, she said. Then we could go. But I didn't ask. There was something in the hard line of my father's face, in the quiet sigh of supplication he made every morning before he began family prayer, that made me think my curiosity was an obscenity, an af Wow. Harrowing, heartbreaking, and ultimately triumphant, Educated is at times difficult to read and not at all what I expected, but I couldn't tear myself away from it. "Mother had always said we could go to school if we wanted. We just had to ask Dad, she said. Then we could go. But I didn't ask. There was something in the hard line of my father's face, in the quiet sigh of supplication he made every morning before he began family prayer, that made me think my curiosity was an obscenity, an affront to all he'd sacrificed to raise me." Until she was 17 years old, Tara Westover never went to school. Her father was convinced that the government was out to get them in every way, so his children got their education at home—not through books and studying, but through preparing for the End of Days by making survivalist kits, canning endless jars of fruit, and being prepared for a siege at any time. Tara's mother was a midwife and healer, so she helped her mother prepare the various tinctures and remedies she used. At other times she worked in her father's junkyard with her siblings, salvaging scrap metal and dealing with the various injuries that came with this work, because her parents didn't believe that doctors or hospitals could heal better than herbs and the Lord's power. The problem was, they were so isolated that there was no one to help ensure the children learned any actual facts, or protect them when behavior turned violent. When one of Tara's older brother's left the family compound in Idaho to study at Brigham Young University, for the first time Tara realized there was a world outside her father's blustery preaching. Despite having never set foot in a classroom, she began to study for the ACT exam, teaching herself enough math, grammar, and science to achieve the score she needed to attend BYU herself. But this decision didn't please her father, who believed college professors were liars and hypocrites sure to take Tara down a blasphemous path. In Educated , Westover shares her story about being caught between loyalty to family and God, and the desire to find your own way, to learn things on your own. She touches on learning about things like the Holocaust and the civil rights movement for the first time, and how difficult she found being on her own, dealing with the disapproval of her father. While this book deals with the educational triumphs Westover ultimately achieves despite all of the obstacles thrown in her way, this is a tough story to read as well, because she also shares what it is like to constantly have your self-worth undermined by those who claim to love you and want what's best for you. How can you ever truly believe you deserve a life in which you don't have to worry about abuse, humiliation, and degradation, when it is your own family causing these things? Where do you find the strength to say you've had enough when you know doing so might cost you your family? I'm late to the party in reading this, and I will admit this wasn't quite the book I expected, as I thought it would focus more on Westover's education than her upbringing and the emotional and physical abuse she endured for years. Obviously, this, too, was part of her education, but at times I found the continuous pattern of behaviors really difficult to keep reading about. I realize that those around her must have felt the same way—just when they thought she might be making a breakthrough she let the same things happen to her over and over and over again. Even though this wasn't an enjoyable book per se, it was written so skillfully, and Westover's story was so compelling that I read the entire book in a day thanks to a flight and a long car ride. This is an important, poignant, thought-provoking book which demonstrates how one woman found the courage to achieve despite being surrounded by those who told her she shouldn't or she couldn't. What a punch this packed. See all of my reviews at itseithersadnessoreuphoria.blogspot.com, or check out my list of the best books I read in 2017 at https://itseithersadnessoreuphoria.blogspot.com/2018/01/the-best-books-i-read-in-2017.html.

  16. 5 out of 5

    j e w e l s [Books Bejeweled]

    FIVE STARS This is one of those books that I can't stop talking about. Literally. My dental hygienist even wrote it down because she asked me for a good book recommendation. She likes biographies. YASSSSSSSSS! I'M READING THE BEST MEMOIR EVER!!! YOU MUST BUY IT TODAY!!! (That was in between spitting and rinsing, of course.) I love memoirs written by unusual people. Tara Westover is not only highly educated, but she is stubborn as a bulldog and pulled herself up by the steel-toed boots she wore as FIVE STARS This is one of those books that I can't stop talking about. Literally. My dental hygienist even wrote it down because she asked me for a good book recommendation. She likes biographies. YASSSSSSSSS! I'M READING THE BEST MEMOIR EVER!!! YOU MUST BUY IT TODAY!!! (That was in between spitting and rinsing, of course.) I love memoirs written by unusual people. Tara Westover is not only highly educated, but she is stubborn as a bulldog and pulled herself up by the steel-toed boots she wore as a child working in her family's Idaho junkyard. The first class room she ever entered was the first day of her freshman college year at age 17. She had never seen a doctor. Never had a vaccination. Never taken even an ibuprofen. She had no birth certificate. She didn't even know her birthday. She didn't know she was supposed to wash her hands after using the restroom. She had never heard of the civil rights movement or the Holocaust. Yet, despite these odds, she rose to the position of earning her Ph.D from the prestigious Cambridge University. Can you imagine the extremeness of dangerous and rural, poverty-stricken Idaho when compared to Cambridge? If you are familiar with the grand dining hall of Harry Potter's Hogwarts, you have an idea of the scale and beauty of such a hallowed site of academia. Talk about a fish out of water story. I love it! At the heart of her memoir lies Tara's unrelenting drive to be accepted by her family despite her eventual success with higher education and her rebirth into a different world altogether. She valiantly tries to stop the cycle of violence that involves her older brother. Her father was stirred by his own religious beliefs, but his mental illness was what propelled their family into doomsday mode. He was a devout survivalist and determined to take his entire family with him into the darkness. EDUCATED is a fascinating story of sheer perseverance and grit. I listened to the audiobook and it was a phenomenal production. Heartbreaking at times, but it is an ultimately uplifting and inspiring story.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Marialyce

    2 stars and I know, I am an outlier. I have been born with a gene called the "doubting Thomas" gene. It has made me very leery of trusting and believing a lot of things and unfortunately this gene kicked in big time in this story billed as a memoir. While I do believe that the things described by Tara Westover might have happened, I also have to think that this was a book of childhood memories. Sometimes, as children, we distort the truth, and sometimes grown to adulthood we only remember fragment 2 stars and I know, I am an outlier. I have been born with a gene called the "doubting Thomas" gene. It has made me very leery of trusting and believing a lot of things and unfortunately this gene kicked in big time in this story billed as a memoir. While I do believe that the things described by Tara Westover might have happened, I also have to think that this was a book of childhood memories. Sometimes, as children, we distort the truth, and sometimes grown to adulthood we only remember fragments of what happened and when confronted by others realize our memory was somewhat faulty. There are actually quite a few things I just could not wrap my hands around in this story. For one, being a former teacher and having had the pleasure of teaching many gifted and brilliant students, I just could not see what, with the quantum lapses in Tara's education, how she could possibly have made it into both a fairly prestigious college and then onto the highest level of university in England. Learning builds upon itself and being a former math teacher, I can say that if one only had the rudimentary knowledge of the four simple math functions, that going onto higher level math would be virtually impossible. Was it possible that her early education being home schooled was not as lacking as she described it to be? The next issue I had was that of the number of injuries incurred by she and her brothers and her mother just snapping her fingers, using essential oils and other agents and then recovery occurred. Granted, I am not a medical professional, but the incidents described in one or two particular cases was life threatening and yet these techniques done by the mother worked? I know I still blame it on my doubting Thomas gene. I do also have a belief in both holistic and regular medicine being a partnership in the healing process. Next up for me, was Tara's ability to obtain somehow the finances to attend college and then to travel overseas to England and back. Yes, I do know that she was awarded scholarships but what about the incidentals, travel, food not provided in school. Did she live like a hermit and never leave the confines of the school she was attending? From her writing, we know that is not true. Lastly, if indeed these things were happening, where were the people who should have noticed the abuse? Where were the friends, the church goers, the people who did business with the father? Would they have not noticed untoward things happening to the Westover children. Would not at least one of them have come forward? Why are some of them coming forward now to defend this family? So, sorry to say, I am going against the grain of many of my fellow much respected readers and reviewers, and saying that I just could not buy into what was being set forward in this book. I am not an advocate for her parents, nor do I think that things never did happen. Perhaps to me, this book just has not explained the circumstances well enough for the doubting Thomas in me to believe. Thankful to my Traveling Sisters who read this book along with me. We all seemed to share the same ideas on this one and I am glad as always to have my thoughts and feeling able to be expressed to such a wonderful group of avid readers. Also thank you to netgalley, the author and the publisher for providing me with an ARC of this book.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Shelby *trains flying monkeys*

    So this book is billed as being along the same lines as The Glass Castle My little nothing opinion falls around something like this. Tara grows up in a different kind of family. Her dad knows that the end of the world is coming and makes sure his family is always ready. He has them preparing food constantly, digs a shelter, does not believe in association with anything government (including doctors)...mom is a midwife that practices with herbal cures. The family has strong beliefs that center the So this book is billed as being along the same lines as The Glass Castle My little nothing opinion falls around something like this. Tara grows up in a different kind of family. Her dad knows that the end of the world is coming and makes sure his family is always ready. He has them preparing food constantly, digs a shelter, does not believe in association with anything government (including doctors)...mom is a midwife that practices with herbal cures. The family has strong beliefs that center them on their mountain and away from worldly things. Including school. Technically, the story is that the family is homeschooled...but there is not a whole lot of schooling going on. Unless you count working the family junkyard. (That might get you killed.) The family for the most part is okay with all this because of the simple fact that they just don't know anything else. Their dad is a force and his beliefs are held strong in the family. Tara had never heard of the Holocaust until she was almost an adult. Tara decides she has to escape from some of her family pressures unless she wants to end up pregnant and following her meek mothers footsteps. Plus, she has an older brother that is so abusive that he turned my stomach. So why didn't I fall all in love with this book? For me it repeated itself so much that I didn't think the story was ever going to move on. Some parts were just mind bogglingly boring and I almost threw it aside. But then there were parts after the first half of the book that I couldn't read fast enough. Go figure. Booksource: Netgalley in exchange for review.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Dan Schwent

    When a girl raised on a mountain in Idaho by her survivalist fundamentalist Mormon family sets foot in a classroom for the first time at the age of 17, how will things turn out? Can she ever escape the past? Yeah, I made that sound like one of the sleazy thrillers I'm fond of but Educated is a memoir, not a potboiler. I don't normally read memoirs but I decided to take Random House up on their offer when they came knocking. Educated is the story of Tara Westover's childhood on Buck's Peak, a mount When a girl raised on a mountain in Idaho by her survivalist fundamentalist Mormon family sets foot in a classroom for the first time at the age of 17, how will things turn out? Can she ever escape the past? Yeah, I made that sound like one of the sleazy thrillers I'm fond of but Educated is a memoir, not a potboiler. I don't normally read memoirs but I decided to take Random House up on their offer when they came knocking. Educated is the story of Tara Westover's childhood on Buck's Peak, a mountain in Idaho, and her eventual leaving the mountain behind to pursue and education. It doesn't sound very interesting when you say it like that but her upbringing was crazy. Raised by a anti-government survivalist and fundamentalist Mormon father, Tara's early life was anything but ordinary: little education other than learning to read, being nearly worked to death in the scrapyard by her father, tormented by her probably-schizophrenic brother, not even sure of her own birthday. And then she decides to go to college... The first third of the book was pretty bleak. I kept forgetting it wasn't a work of fiction and wanted to see a couple people dead in the snow. Once Tara goes to college, it's her against her family's beliefs. We all know how hard people cling to beliefs, just look at the ongoing debate on who the best captain of the Enterprise was. Even though it's pretty clear that it's Jean-Luc Picard. Tara's journey was a trip back and forth through the labyrinth of her family's beliefs and a conflict between her desire to belong and the desire for more than just being someone's wife on a mountain. One thing I quite liked was that she never dragged her family's Mormon beliefs through the mud even though it would have been the easiest thing in the world for her to do and pretty understandable given everything it cost her. Parts of the book are heartbreaking and it makes the end that much more satisfying. Tara getting her PhD despite where she came from and what it cost her makes me think I've probably squandered some of the opportunities I've been given over the years. 4.5 out of 5 stars.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Berit☀️✨

    3 Sad to Say Stars 🌟🌟🌟 Ugh this is hard for me... I really am such a positive reviewer for the most part, but this book I unfortunately found disappointing.... this could be for multiple reasons, I went in with high expectations... I had read so many glowing reviews for this book I was expecting greatness.... also this is absolutely not in my preferred list of genres, but this also could’ve helped the book.... as I have very few books to compare it to.... I finished this book well over a week ago 3 Sad to Say Stars 🌟🌟🌟 Ugh this is hard for me... I really am such a positive reviewer for the most part, but this book I unfortunately found disappointing.... this could be for multiple reasons, I went in with high expectations... I had read so many glowing reviews for this book I was expecting greatness.... also this is absolutely not in my preferred list of genres, but this also could’ve helped the book.... as I have very few books to compare it to.... I finished this book well over a week ago and I have sat on this review, because I just am not sure how to be honest without criticizing a persons life.... for this reason I may never read another memoir that I need to review, it is hard for me to separate the person from the book.... but I will try... On a very positive note I thought the message of this book was wonderful education is extremely important.... it really is one thing nobody can ever take away from you.... I do admire Tara’s fortitude to acquire an education..... however there was a little luck involved here.... all I’m saying is the average person of average intelligence probably isn’t going to end up at Harvard.... no matter how hard they work.... clearly Tara was blessed with the intelligence to do so, and this was not addressed anywhere in this book... my father grew up with a single mother, his father passed away when he was one-year-old, they didn’t have much, but his mother forced him to go to at least one year of college and he ended up with a PhD in aeronautical engineering.... now I am very proud of my father he has accomplished a lot in his life and he is an amazing person, however he was also blessed with an amazing brain... apparently this skips a generation because my son was blessed with that same amazing brain.... all I’m saying is sometimes you need to give credit where credit is due.... if I had started college without knowing any algebra my freshman year I would have never made it through college much less ended up at Harvard, no matter how hard I worked..... so yes you should work hard, yes education is important, but you also need to be realistic with what your abilities are.... some of the hardest working people might end up at the local community college or not in college at all..... sorry that was a bit of a rant, rant over.... There are also some things in this book I found a little hard to believe.... however I will give Tara the benefit of the doubt on this, sometimes our perception of things isn’t exactly how things happened.... wow a lot of things could have been avoided if they just wore seatbelts.... But really in all honesty none of the things stated above cause me to not love this book, it just did not hold my attention.... I needed some light moments in the midst of all these horrible childhood memories.... even in the worst of childhoods there are some bright spots.... For me this book had a very positive message, however I would’ve preferred it to be delivered in a more positive and realistic manner.... and to all of you who love this book I am so glad you did! really I wish I had as well.... *** thank you to the publisher and Net Galley for a copy of this book ***

  21. 4 out of 5

    Carol

    Buck Peak - a dangerous place to live....at any age!Tara Westover grew up on a mountain with a paranoid, volatile father who spent his days preparing for the end of the world; a submissive mother who was blind to her children's hurt, five brothers and a sister....one brother so threateningly scary at times, I could hardly believe what he was doing or what I was reading. Tara's story is one of courage, strength and struggle as a child and as a young woman. To have endured the ridiculous demands a Buck Peak - a dangerous place to live....at any age!Tara Westover grew up on a mountain with a paranoid, volatile father who spent his days preparing for the end of the world; a submissive mother who was blind to her children's hurt, five brothers and a sister....one brother so threateningly scary at times, I could hardly believe what he was doing or what I was reading. Tara's story is one of courage, strength and struggle as a child and as a young woman. To have endured the ridiculous demands and beliefs of her father....the humiliation....the verbal abuse....all while trying to decipher truth from fiction and educate herself amidst her life of chaos was a remarkable feat. And OMGOSH!....the accidents....the accidents....the accidents!EDUCATED is a powerful, shocking and noteworthy debut....an unforgettable memoir.Many thanks to NetGalley and RANDOM HOUSE PUBLISHING GROUP for the ARC COMING FEBRUARY 20, 2018 in exchange for an unbiased review.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Luffy

    Well, this one was a special book. I didn't like what I read in the beginning. But it's a reminder of what harm religion can do. But quickly we came out of this Sam Harris-like territory, and went into more chaos. There are a few cases like Tara's. But not everyone of them can write like her. She reminds me of Beryl Markham with her biography, West with the Night. Reading this book was very much aligning with the values that I hold sacred. The written word, if acquired, can be a formidable weapon. Well, this one was a special book. I didn't like what I read in the beginning. But it's a reminder of what harm religion can do. But quickly we came out of this Sam Harris-like territory, and went into more chaos. There are a few cases like Tara's. But not everyone of them can write like her. She reminds me of Beryl Markham with her biography, West with the Night. Reading this book was very much aligning with the values that I hold sacred. The written word, if acquired, can be a formidable weapon. I gave this book 5 stars knowing that it was an antidote to ignorance.

  23. 4 out of 5

    karen

    this is one of those “eeeeveryone is reading it” books that i always come in too late on, since i rarely read nonfiction and it takes me a while to jump onto nonfiction bandwagons. but here i am, way behind the rest of y’all on the oregon trail, probably riddled with dysentery. or that. which is probably a good place to dive into this review, because even though its synopsis keeps stressing the word “survivalist,” this family is only "survivalist" in the sense that somehow, despite refusing to s this is one of those “eeeeveryone is reading it” books that i always come in too late on, since i rarely read nonfiction and it takes me a while to jump onto nonfiction bandwagons. but here i am, way behind the rest of y’all on the oregon trail, probably riddled with dysentery. or that. which is probably a good place to dive into this review, because even though its synopsis keeps stressing the word “survivalist,” this family is only "survivalist" in the sense that somehow, despite refusing to seek professional medical treatment for any number of falls, fires, punctures, car accidents, explosions, they survived.  and somehow, in spite of being a college freshman who had never gone to school a day in her life, who thought europe was a country and had never heard of the holocaust, tara westover managed to not only survive, but flourish in academia; earning an undergrad degree, a masters, and a phd before writing this book. and somehow, despite years of emotional, psychological, and physical abuse, despite all the ways they failed to prepare her for the world, despite how they turned their backs on her and how generally unpleasant they are, she still wants the approval and acceptance of, and to have a relationship with, her family. of the three “somehows,” that is the least shocking. the pull of family is strong and many people continue to love people who hurt them repeatedly, but there’s no world in which i teach myself trigonometry, so #2 still has my vote. it’s an interesting book for a number of reasons, but maybe not the ones that are being used to pitch it. because the survivalist thing is definitely overemphasized. there’s a difference between being a prepper and being prepared. you live in a rural area, like the mountains of idaho, you’re gonna want to can some food in case you get cut off from other options. the family is self-sufficient and insular in many ways, but they have a phone, a tv, a car, tara participates in local musical theater groups - they’re by no means “off the grid." except for Y2K, which deeply disappointed her father by failing to happen, the family doesn’t actively prepare for the breakdown of society, and there’s nothing of the survivalist guns and ammo and “we live in trees now” lifestyle here. the end times are mentioned, of course, but it’s often invoked in a context other than survival, and although her father wants the family to become even more self-sufficient, in terms of generating power and other amenities, a lot of that is just “stickin’ it to the man” glee. for me, what’s interesting is how memory functions in this book. obviously, all memoirs are somewhat invented - gaps filled in, personalities amplified, situations inflated, meaning assigned with the clarity of hindsight, but here it’s more than “glossed for dramatic zazz;” it’s several different sources who have completely contradictory recollections of events. she makes note of these situations as they arise in the book, but there’s a little two-page dealie after the acknowledgments called “A Note on the Text” that is totally worth reading, and weirdly, was the most fascinating part of the book, to me. it’s almost eerie. trust me and check it out, okay?? that’s all i got - everyone’s already been here, done this (LGM). it’s an interesting read; i still don’t know how she managed to go from nell to nerd but more power to her, truly. come to my blog!

  24. 4 out of 5

    Cheri

    ” I will not make The same mistakes that you did I will not let myself Cause my heart so much misery I will not break The way you did, you fell so hard I've learned the hard way To never let it get that far “I lose my way And it's not too long before you point it out I cannot cry Because I know that's weakness in your eyes I'm forced to fake A smile, a laugh everyday of my life My heart can't possibly break When it wasn't even whole to start with” --“Because of You” Kelly Clarkson, Songwriters: David Hodges / ” I will not make The same mistakes that you did I will not let myself Cause my heart so much misery I will not break The way you did, you fell so hard I've learned the hard way To never let it get that far “I lose my way And it's not too long before you point it out I cannot cry Because I know that's weakness in your eyes I'm forced to fake A smile, a laugh everyday of my life My heart can't possibly break When it wasn't even whole to start with” --“Because of You” Kelly Clarkson, Songwriters: David Hodges / Kelly Clarkson / Ben Moody ”The hill is paved with wild wheat. If the conifers and sagebrush are soloists, the wheat field is a corps de ballet, each stem following all the rest in bursts of movement, a million ballerinas bending, one after the other, as great gales dent their golden heads.” ”On the highway below, the school bus rolls past without stopping. “I am only seven, but I understand that it is this fact, more than any other, that makes my family different: we don’t go to school.” At some point she had been taught rudimentary reading skills, but there was no real ‘home-schooling.’ Up until she sought out a real education, her ‘schooling’ consisted primarily of living life. Assisting her parents in their roles. ”I had been educated in the rhythms of the mountain, rhythms in which change was never fundamental, only cyclical. The same sun appeared each morning, swept over the valley and dropped behind the peak. The snows that fell in winter always melted in the spring. Our lives were a cycle—the cycle of the day, the cycle of the seasons—circles of perpetual change that, when complete, meant nothing had changed at all. I believed my family was a part of this immortal pattern, that we were, in some sense, eternal. But eternity belonged only to the mountain.” A family of seven children, a father who believes the End of Days is imminent, a mother who followed the teachings of her faith, believed her husband to be the head of the house and bent her will, bent her ideas of right and wrong to his will. Birth certificates were viewed as a tool that the government could use to force them to make their children attend government-run schools and be taught ideas fed by the government. Medical doctors, clinics, likewise – another way for the government to know where they were, what they were up to, another method to steal their freedom to choose, to take away their autonomy. Food storage for emergency preparedness takes on an end-of-days tone, beyond the standard fears, in-case-of-earthquake, or loss of electricity to in case of attack, with their father’s primary fears of attack being by the government. Guns are added in quantity. In between, there is some lovely writing, some horrific stories, even some sweet reminiscing about this home, the stories of home, the stories her father told of her of the mountains around their home, and other stories, including her relationship with her father. ”There’s a story my father used to tell about the peak. She was a grand old thing, a cathedral of a mountain… From a distance, you could see the impression of a woman’s body on the mountain face: her legs formed of huge ravines, her hair a spray of pines fanning over the northern ridge… My father called her the Indian Princess. “All my father’s stories were about our mountain, our valley, our jagged little patch of Idaho. He never told me what to do if I left the mountain, if I crossed oceans and continents and found myself in strange terrain, where I could no longer search the horizon for the Princess. He never told me how I’d know when it was time to come home.” This is a strong, compelling story, a controversial one. While there may be some variation in her story from the “truth,” I didn’t find this impossible to believe. Improbable, perhaps. Heartbreaking? Yes. Out of the range of “normal”? Absolutely. I viewed this as an ‘against all odds’ type of story, true to the extent that she believes that this is how her life was. If there are variations in how she’s shared her story, it is her truth to tell. As for how her father, in particular, viewed his personally manufactured version of faith, and then twisted it to enforce his desires and to lend credence to his bizarre demands, or excuse his dangerous commands and behavior - nothing can possibly excuse that. Many thanks, once again, to the Public Library system, and the many Librarians that manage, organize and keep it running, for the loan of this book!

  25. 4 out of 5

    Dem

    Written with the skill and resonance of a work of fiction, Tara Westover's memoir is heart-breaking and frank and yet hopeful in its telling. Westover was born in 1986, grown up in a rural Idaho radical Mormon Family dominated by her father Gene who was determined to raise his children away from the clutches of the government and the wider world. She had never heard of the Holocaust, Napoleon, or Martin Luther King and she had thought Europe was a country. When she gains a place in college throug Written with the skill and resonance of a work of fiction, Tara Westover's memoir is heart-breaking and frank and yet hopeful in its telling. Westover was born in 1986, grown up in a rural Idaho radical Mormon Family dominated by her father Gene who was determined to raise his children away from the clutches of the government and the wider world. She had never heard of the Holocaust, Napoleon, or Martin Luther King and she had thought Europe was a country. When she gains a place in college through self education at the age of 16 Tara's enlightenment begins and she is at last EDUCATED. This is without doubt a terrific, page turning book, well written, often times brutal and shocking. It is difficult to understand that a family lived and raised children in these conditions and isolation in the 80s and 90s and this book for me read more like an account from sometime back in the 30s/40s. However this is Tara's story warts and all and she tells it well. I admired how she overcame her obstacles and produced an amazing book as well as an opportunity to tell her story to the world. A compelling and interesting read and a writer than oozes talent and I look forward more work by Tara Westover. After reading a book like this I am always conscious of the family members behind the story and how they feel about their dirty laundry being aired in public and I researched a little on the internet and there are members of her family who don't seem to agree with Tara's memories or some of the accounts in this book and I am sure books like this can be quite painful for families to read. However this is Tara's story and I can only read,review and rate the book on the written word in front of me and how I reacted to those words Recommended reading and a book that would make a terrific book club read. My thanks to Net Galley for an opportunity to read this book in return for an honest review.

  26. 5 out of 5

    Holly B

    This was impossible to put down! I usually save my audio books for my car trips, but I found myself listening to this one at home. A story about Tara and her childhood growing up in a Mormon family. Her father was a survivalist and thought the world might end at any moment! Their family home was situated in the shadow of Buck Peak mountain and they lived in poverty. Tara and her six siblings endured much pain under the volatile father and one brother who proved to be quite dangerous. The mother s This was impossible to put down! I usually save my audio books for my car trips, but I found myself listening to this one at home. A story about Tara and her childhood growing up in a Mormon family. Her father was a survivalist and thought the world might end at any moment! Their family home was situated in the shadow of Buck Peak mountain and they lived in poverty. Tara and her six siblings endured much pain under the volatile father and one brother who proved to be quite dangerous. The mother seemed to be in denial and turned the other cheek time and again.  Tara never attended school until the age of 17. She endured so much pain growing up with such a demanding and out of touch father. I was shocked at some of the life threatening situations she endured by having to work in her fathers metal scrapping business. The accidents were horrific. Lots of reviews on this one, I thought it was both shocking and uplifting to read how Tara was able to pull herself out of the family chaos and become a successful woman. Thanks to NG for my arc. I was able to read along with the audio.

  27. 4 out of 5

    Esil

    A very high 4 stars. Educated is a powerful and heartbreaking memoir. Tara Westover grew up in Idaho in a Mormon family. She is the youngest of seven children growing up on an isolated rural property. A fundamentalist version of religion fed her father’s paranoia and his antigovernment and survivalist view of the world. Until she was 17 years old, she had never gone to school and was barely homeschooled. Clearly brilliant, she managed to get into college at Brigham Young and eventually made her w A very high 4 stars. Educated is a powerful and heartbreaking memoir. Tara Westover grew up in Idaho in a Mormon family. She is the youngest of seven children growing up on an isolated rural property. A fundamentalist version of religion fed her father’s paranoia and his antigovernment and survivalist view of the world. Until she was 17 years old, she had never gone to school and was barely homeschooled. Clearly brilliant, she managed to get into college at Brigham Young and eventually made her way to Cambridge University in the UK. Westover’s memoir focuses on her family and their influence over her life and her understanding of the world. There was love in her home life, but it came at a ridiculously high price — intellectual, emotional and physical. (As just one example, there are a few harrowing scenes of physical injuries that her parents were unwilling to treat with the use of conventional medicine). Once she starts separating from her family, there was so much to learn about people, history and politics that had previously been filtered through her father’s paranoid view of the world. While Westover clearly values her ability to get an education and learn about the world, the consequential separation from her family also came at its own high price. Educated is an emotional roller coaster— but it’s not told with melodrama or self pity. Well worth the read. Westover wrote this memoir in her late 20s. I suspect that the story she has to tell is not over. Thanks to Netgalley and the publisher for an opportunity to read an advance copy.

  28. 5 out of 5

    PattyMacDotComma

    Another UPDATE: The Westover family company, with photos https://butterflyexpress.net/welcome/us UPDATE: an interview with Tara. https://www.cbsnews.com/video/tara-we... 5★ “Dad waves at a tower of cars and says, “Luke, cut off those tanks, yeah?” And Luke says, “Sure thing, Dad.” He lays the torch against his hip and strikes flint. Flames erupt from nowhere and take him. He screams, fumbles with the twine, screams again, and takes off through the weeds.“ There are life-and-death incidents and accid Another UPDATE: The Westover family company, with photos https://butterflyexpress.net/welcome/us UPDATE: an interview with Tara. https://www.cbsnews.com/video/tara-we... 5★ “Dad waves at a tower of cars and says, “Luke, cut off those tanks, yeah?” And Luke says, “Sure thing, Dad.” He lays the torch against his hip and strikes flint. Flames erupt from nowhere and take him. He screams, fumbles with the twine, screams again, and takes off through the weeds.“ There are life-and-death incidents and accidents and attacks all through this memoir, which reads like some sort of science fiction or dystopian thriller. We know Tara survives, because she wrote it, but I will give nothing else away. Read the long, informative blurb on Goodreads for a good summary. I can’t really add to that other than to say this is a compelling read. Father and Mother are fundamentalist, Mormon preppers, preparing for when the government comes to get them. Tara has grown up with warning stories, and since she and her siblings are ”home-schooled” (meaning they work in the junkyard with their dad instead of going to school), she had no frame of reference. This is about the Weavers. “‘There’s a family not far from here,’ Dad said. ‘They’re freedom fighters. They wouldn’t let the Government brainwash their kids in them public schools, so the Feds came after them.’ Dad exhaled, long and slow. ‘The Feds surrounded the family’s cabin, kept them locked in there for weeks, and when a hungry child, a little boy, snuck out to go hunting, the Feds shot him dead.’” Why wouldn’t she believe him? When you’re a little kid, your parents know everything. When you go to school, you may start questioning your parents because you think your teacher knows everything. Tara’s teacher is her mother, and her mother is devoted to her father. She can’t understand why one minute her father is laughing about the danger she faces clambering on top of piles of junk to separate bits for sale, and the next minute he looks terrified, stockpiling stuff. This is not a spoiler, it’s very early in the book. “Fourteen years after the incident with the Weavers, I would sit in a university classroom and listen to a professor of psychology describe something called bipolar disorder. Until that moment I had never heard of mental illness. I knew people could go crazy—they’d wear dead cats on their heads or fall in love with a turnip—but the notion that a person could be functional, lucid, persuasive, and something could still be wrong, had never occurred to me.” She faced danger daily, forced to work in the junkyard with her father, who was tossing machinery parts in bins. She was nearly brained and cut with something and called to him to stop, but he kept right on throwing. “I almost had it when Dad flung a catalytic converter. I leapt aside, cutting my hand on the serrated edge of a punctured tank. I wiped the blood on my jeans and shouted, ‘Don’t throw them here! I’m here!’ Dad looked up, surprised. He’d forgotten I was there. When he saw the blood, he walked over to me and put a hand on my shoulder. ‘Don’t worry, honey,’ he said. ‘God is here, working right alongside us. He won’t let anything hurt you. But if you are hurt, then that is His will’. Her grandparents were not fundamentalists or preppers. Mother’s mother, Grandma-over-in-town, couldn’t believe her daughter hadn’t told Tara and the others to wash with soap. Basic cleanliness was overlooked. This was not a clean, lovely, homespun existence. This was pretty much squalor. Her father pushed her mother to become a midwife after she had assisted the local midwife before she moved. Mother was frightened, but after a series of accidents and injuries to herself, which gave her migraines and probably brain damage, she became completely absorbed in her potions and lotions and herbal and homeopathic remedies for everything. She started clicking her fingers to “listen” for whether somebody had cancer or other infection. Father’s response to every ailment or injury was “Bring him home. Your mother will deal with it”, including the kid in the first quote, who was on fire, running through the fields. Brains spilling out on the highway? Your mother will deal with it. Broke your bones? Your mother will deal with it. It would be laughable if it weren’t so desperately real and tragic. Tara is now estranged from her parents, because rather than believe her, they’ve sided with a brother who lives on their property. Understandable. Easier to ‘believe’ him than his sister who’s gone off and gotten herself all high-and-might educated, eh? Westover never brags, but often questions her own sanity. To deal with her family, she had to withdraw into her mind sometimes as if she weren’t really sitting, stuck listening to her father’s one-hour diatribe about the Feds or whomever he’s down on at the moment. Mostly he just calls her “a whore”, but it turns out they don’t even know how old she is. They registered the first few kids but kept the other off the government books. When they threaten to throw Tara out for something, she protests to her mother to intervene on her behalf. It’s not fair - she’s too young! . . . but when I was your age I was living on my own, getting ready to marry your father.’ ‘You were married at sixteen?’ I said. ‘Don’t be silly,’ she said. ‘You are not sixteen.’ I stared at her. She stared at me. ‘Yes, I am. I’m sixteen.’ She looked me over. ‘You’re at least twenty.’ She cocked her head. ‘Aren’t you?’ We were silent. My heart pounded in my chest. ‘I turned sixteen in September,’ I said. ‘Oh.’ Mother bit her lip, then she stood and smiled. ‘Well, don’t worry about it then. You can stay. Don’t know what your dad was thinking, really. I guess we forgot. Hard to keep track of how old you kids are.’ Unbelievable. Except it isn’t. There are plenty of backwood pockets in the good ol’ US of A that have families cut off from everybody, but eventually, the kids may be enticed away, causing terrible family rifts. And when the potions and lotions start making money, well . . . That’s enough from me. Read it! Thanks to NetGalley and Random House for the preview copy from which I’ve quoted (not NEARLY enough).

  29. 5 out of 5

    Rebecca

    One of the most powerful and well-written memoirs I’ve ever read. This tells of a young woman’s off-grid upbringing in Idaho and the hard work that took her from almost complete ignorance to a Cambridge PhD. Westover’s is an incredible story about testing the limits of perseverance and sanity. Her father may have been a survivalist, but her psychic survival is the most impressive outcome here. What takes this astonishing life story to the next level, making it a classic to sit alongside memoirs One of the most powerful and well-written memoirs I’ve ever read. This tells of a young woman’s off-grid upbringing in Idaho and the hard work that took her from almost complete ignorance to a Cambridge PhD. Westover’s is an incredible story about testing the limits of perseverance and sanity. Her father may have been a survivalist, but her psychic survival is the most impressive outcome here. What takes this astonishing life story to the next level, making it a classic to sit alongside memoirs by Alexandra Fuller, Mary Karr and Jeannette Walls, is the writing. Westover writes with calm authority, channeling the style of the scriptures and history books that were formative in her upbringing and education. See my full review at BookBrowse. (See also my article on herbalism, by way of her family’s business.)

  30. 5 out of 5

    abby

    "They believed in modesty; we practiced it. They believed in God's power to heal; we left our injuries in God's hands. They believed in preparing for the Second Coming; we were actually prepared." Even in a rural, religious Mormon town in Idaho, the Westover family was different. They didn't go to school. Tara Westover's father believed school would take his children off their Godly path, which included helping out in the family metal scrap yard and forgoing the doctor in favor essential oils and "They believed in modesty; we practiced it. They believed in God's power to heal; we left our injuries in God's hands. They believed in preparing for the Second Coming; we were actually prepared." Even in a rural, religious Mormon town in Idaho, the Westover family was different. They didn't go to school. Tara Westover's father believed school would take his children off their Godly path, which included helping out in the family metal scrap yard and forgoing the doctor in favor essential oils and herbs. And because he took no safety precaution at his junk yard, his children were injured a lot. Growing up, Tara didn't think there was anything wrong with the way her family lived. But as she got older, she started to question. At seventeen, she enrolled in BYU, and it was like landing on a different planet. It took years to deprogram herself from her father's brainwashing. Despite the title, education is the least of Tara's story. For years, she suffered savage abuse at the hands of her older brother, Shawn. On more than one occasion, he threatens to kill her, and her parents take his side. There's an element of reading this that's like reading a horror story, where you're screaming at the girl not to open the basement door. For whatever reason, Tara keeps going home. Home to abuse from her brother, home to the junk yard that almost kills her, home to brainwashing from her father, home to backstabbing from her mother. I wanted to scream. For this reason and others, I didn't connect with Tara Westover the way I have with other authors of so-called "misery lit"-- and I've read a lot of these memoirs. Tara writes in euphemism and hints, unable or unwilling to deal with the issue of abuse in frank terms. It's a hold over from a coping mechanism she used as a child writing in her diary. Until the end of the book, Tara wonders if she really is possessed by the devil, and desires to be awash in her father's cult once again. I don't think she is healed enough to write this book. I won't be surprised to learn in five years that she is back on the family compound in Idaho, making essential oil concoctions. Thank you to the publisher and NetGalley for providing me with an advanced copy of this book.

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