Educated

Educated

A Memoir

eBook - 2018
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"Tara Westover was seventeen 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. The family was so isolated from mainstream society that there was no one to ensure the children received an education, and no one to intervene when one of Tara's older brothers became violent. As a way out, Tara began to educate herself, learning enough mathematics and grammar to be admitted to Brigham Young University. Her quest for knowledge would transform 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. With the acute insight that distinguishes all great writers, Tara Westover has crafted a universal coming-of-age story that gets to the heart of what an education offers: the perspective to see one's life through new eyes, and the will to change it."--Provided by publisher.
Publisher: New York :, Random House,, [2018]
ISBN: 9780399590511
Characteristics: 1 online resource
text file,rda
Additional Contributors: OverDrive, Inc. - Distributor

Opinion

From Library Staff

September 2020 "Traces the author's experiences as a child born to survivalists in the mountains of Idaho, describing her participation in her family's paranoid stockpiling activities and her resolve to educate herself well enough to earn an acceptance into a prestigious university and the u... Read More »

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c
clairebzhang
Jun 01, 2020

This story left me going, what?! wow....

It's hard to believe that it's true so it blows your mind.

j
JANMAYS
May 15, 2020

Wonderful - did for book club

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LisaMarie9
May 14, 2020

Wow! One of the best books I’ve read in a long time. The obstacles she was required to overcome are mind blowing. Just when I thought she could finally move forward, it always seemed that something was there to hold her back. Despite this, and maybe because of this, she flourished. She took an emotionally abusive childhood and turned it into a thriving well lived life. I have recommended this book to everyone !

Lord_Vad3r May 06, 2020

One of the diversions I find myself exploring on a regular basis are belief systems that are, well, outside of the mainstream. That was what initially attracted me to Tara Westover's Educated. The Westover children were raised with the constant expectation that the world would be ending soon and that they needed to be prepared.

Some people in this world can only maintain their drive by having some form of enemy: maybe it's the government, socialists, the medical establishment, whatever. If that enemy doesn't materialize they will either lose all focus or shift their efforts to demonizing a new group. This is part of the reason many of the Westover kids didn't have birth certificates, vaccinations, or a public school education. Their early education was learning to read, burying fuel, storing ammo, canning peaches, or helping to prep homeopathic treatments. Everything in the family was dictated by their father, who may suffer from bipolar disorder, and his oscillations between mania and despondency. The specter of mental illness also manifests in the persona of Shawn, the abusive and controlling older brother.

The expectation of a woman in Ms. Westover's family would not have been education but marriage, children, and midwifery. In her recounting of the story, her choices first to attend college and second to call out her brother's abuses end up viewed as betrayals to the family.

To some extent her inner struggle, trying to discover who she really is an reconcile that with both her family and the world at large, is something we all go through. At some point in the process of becoming an adult you have to decide what you stand for and then hold your ground. Part of me feels like you can only truly experience this struggle if you are lucky enough to have been born into a society where a daily struggle for survival doesn't demand your focus for every waking moment.

Educated is very reminiscent of Glass Castle. I am always impressed by people who have the fortitude to shrug off the shackles of the past and defy expectations to become something more. Ms. Westover, if she can be taken at her word, meets that criteria. If you like stories that feature a coming of age story line, you should consider reading Educated.

h
happycanuck
May 01, 2020

One feels great sympathy for the author having been born into a family with members who have serious mental health issues as well as great admiration for how the author worked so hard to overcome huge obstacles. Mid-way through the book, the author has made it to college. It is surprising to read what a terrible room mate she was. She brags of never doing her share of the chores and of her neglect of personal hygiene. The author then buries her readers in superflous detail of her studies of each subject and her worries concerning quizzes. Boring...boring...boring .... just had to stop reading.

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Nettie1963
Apr 23, 2020

If you enjoyed reading The Glass Castle, you will find that you cannot put this book down. You find yourself cheering for the perseverance that Tara had to enable her to overcome such a dysfunctional childhood. I could not fathom that some children survive a childhood like she did and are still able to succeed in life.

JCLKelseyR Apr 08, 2020

I could not put this book down. The author writes phenomenally, and pulls you in so you really feel as though you're there. This a beautiful, but very sad, coming of age story of a young woman determined to make something different for herself. I highly recommend it.

t
Tica77
Apr 03, 2020

If an author had written this story as fiction, the reader would have a hard time believing such a story could be true in real life. Tara Westover describes her life in the back woods of Idaho where she was raised by a father who trusted no one and was paranoid about the influence of education and government. A staunch Mormon, he believed that God was the sole source of trust. Her mother, influenced by her husband’s beliefs, ignores the abuse and violence
present in her home. Extremely resourceful and highly intelligent, Tara manages to escape the mountain where she grew up to seek a higher education. This book would be an excellent study of the nature-nurture controversy and the strong influence family can. have on a child.

s
stonegriffiths
Apr 03, 2020

This is an incredible story of perseverance. How a young woman goes through the trials of her circumstance without even understanding that they are, in fact, trials. Her strength and curiousity eventually bringing her to self discovery.
This is, by far, the most powerful Memoir I've read from her generation.

JCLZainabF Mar 31, 2020

I finished this book in few days and I couldn’t stop thinking about it.
This book is not only engrossing, but it’s also distressing. Tara Westover weaves a tale about complicated and sometimes abusive family relationships. The author’s commitment for a better future and her dedication to pursue her goals are the things that stood out for me.

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Quotes

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NadiaHathor
Oct 02, 2019

"The blessing was a mercy. He was offering me the same terms of surrender he had offered my sister. I imagined what a relief it must have been for her, to realize she could trade her reality - the one she shared with me - for his. How grateful she must have felt to pay such a modest price. I could not judge her for her choice, but in that moment I knew I could not choose it for myself. Everything I had worked for, all my years of study, had been to purchase for myself this one privilege, to see and experience more truths than those given to me by my father, and to use those truths to construct my own mind. I had come to believe that the ability to evaluate many ideas, many histories, many points of view, was at the heart of what it means to self-create. If I yielded now, I would lose more than an argument. I would lose custody of my own mind. This was the price I was being asked to pay, I understood that now. What my father wanted to cast from me wasn't a demon; It was me."

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jimg2000
Sep 12, 2019

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. 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. 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. Of course I did exist. I had grown up preparing for the Days of Abomination, watching for the sun to darken, for the moon to drip as if with blood.

j
jimg2000
Sep 12, 2019

…all the decisions that go into making a life — the choices people make, together and on their own, that combine to produce any single event. Grains of sand, incalculable, pressing into sediment, then rock.
===

“ What’s college? ” I said. “College is extra school for people too dumb to learn the first time around,” Dad said.
===

“There’s two kinds of them college professors,” Dad said. “Those who know they’re lying, and those who think they’re telling the truth.” Dad grinned. “Don’t know which is worse, come to think of it, a bona fide agent of the Illuminati, who at least knows he’s on the devil’s payroll, or a high-minded professor who thinks his wisdom is greater than God’s.”

j
jimg2000
Sep 12, 2019

My strongest memory is not a memory. It’s something I imagined, then came to remember as if it had happened. The memory was formed when I was five, just before I turned six, from a story my father told in such detail that I and my brothers and sister had each conjured our own cinematic version, with gunfire and shouts. Mine had crickets. That’s the sound I hear as my family huddles in the kitchen, lights off, hiding from the Feds who’ve surrounded the house. A woman reaches for a glass of water and her silhouette is lighted by the moon. A shot echoes like the lash of a whip and she falls. In my memory it’s always Mother who falls, and she has a baby in her arms. The baby doesn’t make sense — I’m the youngest of my mother’s seven children — but like I said, none of this happened.

j
jimg2000
Sep 12, 2019

One telling in particular has stayed with me. I am seven or eight and am in my room dressing for church. I have taken a damp rag to my face, hands and feet, scrubbing only the skin that will be visible.
===

How the paranoia and fundamentalism were carving up my life, how they were taking from me the people I cared about and leaving only degrees and certificates — an air of respectability — in their place. What was happening now had happened before. This was the second severing of mother and daughter. The tape was playing in a loop.
===
God couldn’t abide faithlessness, Dad said. That’s why the most hateful sinners were those who wouldn’t make up their minds, who used herbs and medication both, who came to Mother on Wednesday and saw their doctor on Friday — or, as Dad put it,” Who worship at the altar of God one day and offer a sacrifice to Satan the next. “These people were like the ancient Israelites because they’d been given a true religion but hankered after false idols.

j
jimg2000
Sep 12, 2019

I had misunderstood the vital truth: that its not affecting me, that was its effect.
===
I was fifteen and I felt it, felt the race I was running with time. My body was changing, bloating, swelling, stretching, bulging. I wished it would stop, but it seemed my body was no longer mine. It belonged to itself now, and cared not at all how I felt about these strange alterations, about whether I wanted to stop being a child, and become something else.
===

Dad said that the Government had programmed the computers with a six-digit calendar, which meant the year had only two digits. “When nine-nine becomes oh-oh,” he said,” the computers won’t know what year it is. They’ll shut down.” “Can’t they fix it?” “Nope, can’t be done,” Dad said. “Man trusted his own strength, and his strength was weak. ”
===

I’d never learned how to talk to people who weren’t like us — people who went to school and visited the doctor. Who weren’t preparing, every day, for the End of the World.

j
jimg2000
Sep 12, 2019

I was sixteen, had never taken an exam, and had only recently undertaken anything like a systematic education;
===
I began to study trigonometry. There was solace in its strange formulas and equations. I was drawn to the Pythagorean theorem and its promise of a universal — the ability to predict the nature of any three points containing a right angle, anywhere, always.
===

“ Tara can’t drive the crane,” Dad said. “It’ll take half the morning to teach her the controls, and she still won’t know what the hell she’s doing.” “But she’ll be careful,” Shawn said,” and I’m done falling off shit. ”
===
I am not sorry, merely ashamed.
===
I applied to BYU a week later. I had no idea how to write the application, so Tyler wrote it for me. He said I’d been educated according to a rigorous program designed by my mother, who’d made sure I met all the requirements to graduate.
===
Doctors were Sons of Perdition. Homeschooling was a commandment from the Lord.

j
jimg2000
Sep 12, 2019

“Holocaust. “ I don’t know how long I sat there reading about it, but at some point I’d read enough. I leaned back and stared at the ceiling. I suppose I was in shock, but whether it was the shock of learning about something horrific, or the shock of learning about my own ignorance, I’m not sure.
===

As a child, I’d been aware that although my family attended the same church as everyone in our town, our religion was not the same. 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.
===

I don’t understand why I wasn’t allowed to get a decent education as a child.
===
I’d earned A’s in every subject except Western Civ. I would get a scholarship for half of my tuition. I could go back.

j
jimg2000
Sep 12, 2019

Rosa Parks. An image appeared of a policeman pressing a woman’s finger into an ink sponge. Dr. Kimball said she’d taken a seat on a bus. I understood him as saying she had stolen the seat, although it seemed an odd thing to steal.
===

The word and the way Shawn said it hadn’t changed; only my ears were different. They no longer heard the jingle of a joke in it. What they heard was a signal, a call through time, which was answered with a mounting conviction: that never again would I allow myself to be made a foot soldier in a conflict I did not understand.
===

Algebra threatened to put an end to my scholarship. The professor spent every lecture muttering inaudibly as he paced in front of the chalkboard. I wasn’t the only one who was lost, but I was more lost than anyone else. Charles tried to help, but he was starting his senior year of high school and had his own schoolwork. In October I took the midterm and failed it.

j
jimg2000
Sep 12, 2019

The test was in front of me. The problems were compliant, pliable; they yielded to my manipulations, forming into solutions, one after the other. I handed in my answer sheet, then stood in the frigid hallway, staring up at the screen that would display my score. When it appeared, I blinked, and blinked again. One hundred. A perfect score.
===

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.
===
I was sitting in Psychology 101 when the professor read the symptoms aloud from the overhead screen: depression, mania, paranoia, euphoria, delusions of grandeur and persecution. I listened with a desperate interest. This is my father, I wrote in my notes.
===
…a student asked what role mental disorders might have played in separatist movements. “I’m thinking of famous conflicts like Waco, Texas, or Ruby Ridge, Idaho,” he said.

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Yolandaunicorn
Feb 11, 2020

Yolandaunicorn thinks this title is suitable for 10 years and over

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shudson118
Jan 23, 2020

shudson118 thinks this title is suitable for 13 years and over

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Mar 23, 2019

pink_dolphin_3025 thinks this title is suitable for 7 years and over

Summary

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JerryJennings
Jan 04, 2020

A Memoir by Tara Westover is a powerful book.  Westover’s courage to tell her story is important because it provides others with a true journey.  A complex, emotional, brutal, and brave journey a young women took ‘from’, ‘towards; and ‘to’ a healthy new beginning.  Reading Tara’s story was not easy.  She experienced a family life, with her siblings and parents, that left scars. Westover’s candor fills this book. I appreciate how straightforward and humble her writing is. I am so glad I read it.  

This book was selected as one of The New York Times Book Review’s 10 Best Books of 2018.

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