Hi friends! This book has been on my TBR list for forever and my fiancé bought it for me a couple of months ago. I’m so happy to finally have gotten around to it! Please note that while this novel discusses extremist elements of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, none of the judgements I pass on this novel are meant to put the church in a positive or negative light.
Synopsis & Quick Thoughts
Educated is a memoir by Tara Westover that recounts her childhood and adolescents in her survivalist family’s Idaho home. Forbidden from visiting doctors or attending public school, Tara’s Mormon fundamentalist family believes the government is out to get them, that everything is a conspiracy theory. Slowly, Tara begins to educate herself, learning basic math and grammar from old textbooks in her basement, passing the ACT and gaining admission to BYU. We follow her story of self-discovery, growth, doubt, family loyalty, guilt, and changing perspective.
Dude. DUDE. 2021 is off to a bang. I haven’t had a five-star read since the Mistborn trilogy in July and now here we are with the first book of the year? Amazing. This book is SO GOOD. It gave me some of the strongest emotions and most visceral reactions I’ve ever had while reading. Not only is it fascinating and horrifying, it is important. On the importance of education and self-improvement and reconciliation with family values, I think everyone needs to read this book.
I read this book in two days – 160 pages a day. The way Tara writes is captivating and eloquent without being pretentious. The book itself and what it describes is very approachable. I really admire the way that Tara writes about her past experiences. She’s very blunt and straightforward which is probably the best strategy when approaching the topics discussed in her novel. Making her coverage of her childhood too lighthearted wouldn’t deliver the appropriate impact, and seeming too down and depressed in recollection would seem more like a pity party than an experience she grew from.
This book covers topics like education, self-discovery, changing perspective, and personal growth. While the environment in which Tara grew up is likely much more extreme than the ones we did, the themes and messages of hope are applicable to any situation. I had such a feeling of hope while reading, the entire time, and Tara is such an inspiration to me in terms of how she chases after knowledge and knows that the right thing to do or the best thing to do, might not always be the easy option.
Frankly, I don’t think there’s anything in this book that I took issue with enough to merit being mentioned here. I do think it’s important to know that this book can be incredibly hard and frustrating to read at times, due to the nature of the story. While I think that everyone should read this book, I would note that the plot has heavy themes of abuse (physical and verbal), religious extremism, and gaslighting, among other things. These inclusion of these elements are critical to the story, but should be taken note of in the case that they may be triggering for some readers.
Rating & Final Thoughts
I’m so happy that Educated is my first 5 out of 5 star book of the year. I can’t give it high enough praise and my fondness of the book has only grown with time. I seriously recommend everyone read this book, it’s so inspiring and fascinating. What a good start to this year.
Buy Educated by Tara Westover here.*
*as a reminder, I am an Amazon affiliate and make a small commission off of purchases made using my link.