Educated by Tara Westover

I saw my neighbor, D, reading this book at the cottage this summer and instantly asked her if I could borrow it.  I’d seen it on some of the lists I like to visit and was intrigued by it.  I was lucky to get it first because I’m a quick reader but she has a long list of people wanting to borrow her copy – that told me something right away and got me excited to dig into Educated.

If nothing else, Tara Westover led an incredibly fascinating life, one that I couldn’t even imagine happening to a young girl and young woman, one where she continued to face adversity and in the course of that, discovered herself and who she was meant to be on her terms.  But beyond that, Educated is also beautifully written and I found myself engrossed in the book.  I sat reading for hours on the dock one Sunday afternoon, leaving to head home much later than planned because I had to know what happened.  And then I went to bed early that night so I could keep reading and ultimately, finish it.  It was worth all that time spent and I wish I owned the copy because it will go on my list to reread in the relatively near future.

Educated is Tara Westover’s story of her journey to education.  Westover grew up in Idaho, born into a large family and a father who distrusted the government, didn’t believe in hospitals or doctors and didn’t believe in the school system.  The why of all this is explored throughout the book but it meant that Westover and her siblings were loosely home-schooled – how much schooling they received or sought, largely had to do with their interest in it.  The summary in the book jacket calls it  “Her quest for knowledge…” and that felt so right to me because she went through a great deal of challenge to get there.  Her lack of formal education, her father’s resistance to her wanting education, facing off against who she was as a member of her family and who she wanted to be was an incredible quest and of course, made for a great read.

I sometimes forget that I enjoy reading memoirs as I rarely seek them out but Educated was a great reminder of what a well written, fascinating memoir can offer as a read.  I felt inspired by her journey and oddly proud of where she went knowing all that she faced to get there.  And I appreciated that she provided notes along the way, identifying situations that she remembered differently than her siblings or where there were a couple different versions they remembered because there are many memories my sister and I seem to recall differently – it felt very honest.

Around this time of year I start to think about what my favourite book of the year will be.  Educated is way up there on my list and beyond that, I can’t wait to read whatever Tara Westover writes next.

K

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