Happy Sunday all, this week I’m bringing to you a book review on Educated by Tara Westover. This was book 15 in my target of reading 50 books this year.
I have to admit, to start with I didn’t even consider the fact that novel might not be fiction… so when I realised that this empowering novel about self discovery, the power of education, and the fight to have independent thoughts was really a memoir to the life that Tara Westover lived, this book became more heart-breaking and inspiringly powerful.
As a spoiler free synopsis; Educated follows the life of Tara.
She and her family live in Idaho, rural America, and they live away from ‘normal’ society. Her and her siblings don’t attend school, her father doesn’t believe in modern medicine so they they use their own herbs, they believe that the End of Days is coming, and they do not have birth certificates.
One day, when Tara begins to realise that she could have a life beyond the mountains and her fathers dangerous scrap work, she decides to get her self educated. She signs up for college and begins life how she wants and deserves.
“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.”
Now this might be where some spoilers begin to creep in…
Tara excels at school, but learns some hard lessons about reality including that handwashing with soap is the norm, as well as that most of the information her father has been feeding her is not necessarily true.
Tara is torn between loyalty to her family, and her willingness to learn and be her own individual. Her self-determination and strength is so inspiring, despite all the manipulation, violence, and sexism she faces, she discovers her identity and stays true to it.
“It’s strange how you give the people you love so much power over you.”
If you can’t tell, I thoroughly enjoyed this book.
It was really interesting to see how much of an impact your parental beliefs have on your upbringing but also that no matter what challenges you face in life, you can still be your own person.
“Whomever you become, whatever you make yourself into, that is who you always were.”
It was absolutely heart-breaking to read some of the things that Tara believed to be normal behaviour, like not sending her Mother to hospital after a severe head injury and seeing the damage of these things on her wellbeing. But seeing Tara grow and distance herself from these things and become such a well established and educated woman was remarkable.
Tara Westover is a remarkable human being and her story is not one you should miss.
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As a daughter of a huge Lord of the Rings fan, there was no doubt about whether or not we would visit Hobbiton during our trip to New Zealand. I enjoyed it way more than I had expected to too.