Educated: A Memoir of an Uncommon Life


Megan Middaugh

The novel “Educated” is a memoir written by Tara Westover, published in 2018, telling the story of her life as a child of extremist parents. Her parents were hardcore survivalists who lived in the rural moutain area of Idaho. Tara’s father didn’t send any of his children to school because he feared the government would come and find them. Tara’s father also didn’t obtain his youngest four children’s birth certificates when they were young so that they were not registered with the government. He was a firm believer in religion and often preached at the local church. He was also a firm believer that the government and anyone who worked for them were part of the Illuminati. 

In this memoir, Tara recounts specific stories from her childhood that might catch readers off guard, as they are so different from our perceived image of a childhood. She worked day in and day out doing dangerous work for her father upon the mountains of Idaho, she did not attend school, and she was never treated by a doctor or nurse as a child, only herbs prepared by her mother. During her childhood she obtained many horrific injuries which her parents did not let her get treated by a doctor for. She was not the only member of her family to attain injuries. Some of the injuries reported in this memoir include, two car accidents, the cutting off of limbs, and even her brother catching on fire and burning off most of the skin on one of his legs. 

These stories are just some of the ones reported in this novel by Tara Westover. Many more are accounted for and the vivid detail by which they are expressed really connects the reader to her stories. Westover writes in beautiful sentences not sparing a detail from her stories and letting the readers immerse themselves in her world. The way by which Westover writes lets readers hear her voice and makes the story much more impactful. 

The second part of the novel delves into life after she left her parents’ house in the mountains and began her education. Westover began her education at Brigham Young University where she learns things that many of us just grow up knowing. For example, in college she learned what the Holocaust was for the first time. Later she studies abroad at Cambridge University. During her education she travels back to see her family for holidays and is subject to her parents attempts to reconvert her. During the second half of the book you see Westover view her family through different eyes and she faces many difficult decisions in regards to her past life. 

All in all I think this is a book that everyone should read to experience a culture different than their own. If you don’t trust my opinion trust the plenty of trustworthy opinions this novel has won. These titles include one of the New York Times book reviews Ten Best Books of the Year, One of President Barack Obama’s Favorite Books of the Year, and this novel was selected for Bill Gates’s Holiday Reading List.