by Tara Westover

The daughter of survivalists, who is kept out of school, educates herself enough to leave home for university.

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  • @tjseher @Blaney Book learning is the beginning of knowledge. Wisdom is knowing what to do with that knowledge. I'v…
  • @HaleyJaneComic Ummmm. Riiiiight. I suggest you grab a book and educated your self. I’m guessing you the percentage…
  • I painted "Highly-educated Jeff "Comic Book Guy" Albertson" after reading @KateUpton's latest tweets with intellige…
  • I'm patiently anticipating the #Killmonger book by. @bryanedwardhill & @juaneferreyra. I know folks see me ranting…
  • Peter Lunsford, a lonely, book-loving, self-educated and self-destructive salesman, has an abrupt and radical chang…
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    What people are saying on Amazon (sample)

    • I am finding it difficult to put into words how much I loved this memoir. I chose it due to an interest in the question of what shapes a person and makes us who we are. Not only does this book delve into this question, but so much more. It examines the relationship between what we are born into, what we are taught, what we want to be, and what we ultimately become. Tara had almost every odd against her yet she shattered the mold and boundaries and charted her own path. This is a story of education, religion, love, resilience, growth, but more than anything it is a story about female strength and the need to always follow your heart.The good: I still have a difficult time believing this story is true. It has every element of a good novel but means that much more coming from her own voice recounting her experiences and personal memories. You become attached to the characters, the writing is great, and this is a story that stayed with me and I found myself thinking about it when I was working, running, lying in bed, and even after I completed it. It makes you think and question, and it made me so appreciative for my education and the environment I grew up in.The bad: not much to say here other than there are some heavy topics that are quite disturbing at times. This isn't "bad" but something to be aware of; this is not the lightest of reads. Be prepared to think and seriously question what education means and the ways that people across the USA learn and grow up. I also seriously wonder about what happened to some of the family, especially "Shawn."Something this made me realize- I often wonder about the point of a liberal arts education, especially when other countries allow students to go straight to a specialty such as a doctorate without completing college- ie. is the extra time really worth it . I went to a small liberal arts school and took many courses that taught me "cocktail party knowledge." I often questioned the importance of these even though I loved every class I took (especially literature and german studies and I ultimately became a veterinarian so these had little bearing on my ultimate career). This novel made me realize that education is a way of seeing the world and it comes in many forms. It teaches us to question things and continuously push ourselves beyond our comfort zone. I cannot recommend this memoir highly enough. 10/10
    • This Book Is Awesome, I am only half-way thru it and cannot put it down....I'll write more when I finish. ......already ordering it for 2 daughters!!March 10, 2018 It is midnight and I just finished this book. I give it 8 stars on your scale of 1 to 5. If anyone reading this review favors Memoirs, this one is an absolute Must. Up until now, my favorite was "The Glass Castle" by Jeannette Walls - I now have placed this book in the top position. Tara Westover never lost my attention and I realize that the only thing I can say is quite simple.....the Story took my breath away. I did a lot of underlining because I will reflect on it for a long time.
    • This is an absolutely terrible story, depressing to the end. However, it is compelling, to the point that I stayed up late to finish it. I really can't say whether I would recommend this book or not. At some point I hated every single person in it, including, at times, Tara. The cycle of abuse and ignorance is just so frustrating. Tara's pathological resistance to any sort of help or kindness is somewhat understandable, but still made me want to scream! Reading the book almost felt abusive in a way, although certainly not on the level of abuse inflicted by Shawn or her parents.The writing quality is all over the place; some parts are masterful and others are creaky and distracting. Tara describes things as "crisp" at an exponential rate. By the last few chapters, everything is "crisp," from bed linens to entire towns. I'm fascinated that this got past her editors. It's such an ugly word to begin with, and then to be hit with it repeatedly, I just don't see how no one noticed (or worse, noticed and decided to keep them all!).There are major conceptual inconsistencies in this work. Some parts of Tara's story are described in nearly obsessive detail, while pivotal moments are glossed over. She spends pages and pages on her "whore" complex, terrified to even hold a boy's hand, and then the next thing we hear, she's shacking up with her boyfriend all over Europe and the Middle East, without the slightest acknowledgement of what a huge turnabout this is. She ruminates at length over her amateur (though probably correct) diagnosis of her father as bipolar, but barely touches on her own mental health crisis, just describing it as "falling apart" and binge-watching Buffy the Vampire Slayer. If we're going to make armchair diagnoses, I'm calling PTSD for Tara at the very least, and probably some Bipolar II or GAD as well. While in general, people don't owe the public an explanation of their mental state, if you're going to write a very raw and very specific memoir, you can't just skip that part and expect no one to notice.There's also a strange distance in her relationships with anyone who *didn't* abuse her. I suppose this is typical of an abuse survivor, but it's unsettling nonetheless. Tara seems unable to explicitly acknowledge the kindness and sensitivity with which so many "outside" people treated her. They're there, she describes their actions, but there's a void where I would expect to read gratefulness or even fondness. In particular, the dance teacher who discreetly accommodated her need for a modest costume, the ward bishop who tried so hard and so many times to help her, and the roommate who quietly taught Tara how to act normal -- they're all mentioned, and I suppose that is meant to be thanks enough, but it almost seems like she resents their generosity. I'm also confused about her omission of Luke in the credits. What did he do wrong? She seemed to be on good terms with him when is last briefly mentioned, but apparently only siblings with PhDs make it to the Acknowledgements.This is a powerful and affecting story; it really couldn't *not* be. However, I wonder what it would be like if Tara had waited another 10-20 years to write it. She's no doubt an intelligent (and, yes, educated) woman, but there's a dearth of maturity and sensitivity in this story that is not surprising, given what her family put her through, yet it taints the story all the same.I'm very torn on this book. I did not find it inspiring and will not read it again, but I'm not going to say it's bad or that no one should read it all. It's just grueling and stressful. Maybe don't read it if you're already having a tough time in your own life. I finished it a week ago and took some time to let it settle in my mind before writing a review, but I'm still on the fence. Maybe I should've waited another 10-20 years to review it.
    • For me, this is a story about a family tragically undervaluing its daughters and overvaluing its sons. This is a sadly common story in American families, although the physical trauma makes this story so much worse, and gripping. This has been an extremely thought-provoking read for me, and I would highly recommend it to anyone who enjoys memoir.
    • In the interest of full disclosure, I'm the "Drew" from this book, and although Tara and I are no longer together I’ve met all of the key figures in this book on many occasions. Although I don’t have as intimate a knowledge of growing up in the Westover family as a sibling would, I observed first hand everything Tara describes in the third part of the book and heard many stories about earlier events, not just from Tara, but from siblings, cousins, and her parents themselves. I find the claims of factual inaccuracy that have come up among these reviews to be strange for two reason. First, in a post-James Frey (“A Million Little Pieces”) world, publishers are incredibly careful with memoirs and “Educated” was extensively fact checked before publication. Second, no one claiming factual inaccuracy can do more than make vague claims that the book is full of lies. While every Westover sibling, as well as their neighbors and friends, will have different perspectives and different memories, it is very difficult to dispute the core facts of this book. “Educated” is about abuse, and the way in which both abusers and their enablers distort reality for the victims. It’s about the importance of gaining your own understanding of the world so you’re not dependent on the narratives imposed on you by others. I’ve heard Tara’s parents attack schools and universities, doctors and modern medicine, but more importantly, I’ve seen her parents work tirelessly to create a world where Shawn’s abuse was minimized or denied outright. I’ve seen them try to create a world where Tara was insane or possessed in order to protect a violent and unstable brother. I was with her in Cambridge when Shawn was calling with death threats, then saw her mother completely trivialize the experience. For Tara’s parents, allegiance to the family is paramount, and allegiance to the family requires you to accept her father’s view of the world, where violence is acceptable and asking for change is a crime.