Educated: A Memoir 

by Chandra Sundeep
Educated : A Memoir by Tara Westover

Educated: A Memoir written by Tara Westover is a portrait of her life. She chronicles her childhood, growing-up years, her struggles, search for peace and happiness, and the life she makes for herself.

Westover is the seventh child in a Mormon survivalist family which lives off-grid in Idaho. Her father is a control freak. He holds extremist views regarding religion, gender roles and education. He rejects the idea of governments, doctors and modern medicine. His life is centered on preparing for doomsday.

‘Educated’ is a harrowing journey of grave psychological and sociological trauma. Westover, her mother and siblings are all victims of abuse. She realizes her family differs from the rest, and decides to stand up for herself. She works hard and gains acceptance into Brigham Young University. Her life at college is confusing, challenging and difficult, but she doesn’t give up. She keeps going back to her family, hoping to find love and acceptance. Finally, after years of struggle she receives her PhD, but instead of happiness it fills her with a sense of loss; the loss of her family and her home.

Since the book is written from memory, the narrative is disjointed, giving rise to questions about the actual circumstances. I do not intend to belittle the Author’s experiences, or doubt the veracity of her claims, but Westover herself states her memories may be wrong at a few places.

This is a painful read, and her story is indeed terrible, but the delivery is inconsistent and a tad bit repetitive, even sounding far-fetched sometimes. For a family which is forever getting into life-threatening accidents, they survive miraculously every time without proper medical attention.

I couldn’t help feel that she might be suffering from Stockholm syndrome. Given her circumstances, it might be natural too. It would explain her longing for her father’s love and approval despite the abuse she has faced.

Her memoir ends on a fairly positive note. Westover finally finds peace, sheds the guilt of disconnecting from her parents, and accepts her decisions happily. She is even able to reconnect with most of the members from her mum’s side as well. Three of her brothers also gain their doctorates. She survives a battered childhood, abusive father and brother, an unsupportive mother and comes out a winner.

‘Educated,’ is a complex story of sheer determination, guts and perseverance. It is the ray of hope and streak of light for those sinking in darkness.


Wordsopedia rating 3/5

Title: Educated: A Memoir  Author: Tara Westover
Publisher: Random House Large Print Publication date: February 20, 2018
Genre: Non-Fiction–Memoir Format: Paperback
ISBN: 9780525510673 No. of Pages: 512

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About the Author

Tara Westover is an American author. Raised in Idaho by a father who opposed public education, she never attended school. She spent her days working in her family’s junkyard or stewing herbs for her mother, a self-taught herbalist and midwife. She was seventeen the first time she set foot in a classroom. After that, she pursued learning for a decade, graduating magna cum Laude from Brigham Young University and subsequently winning a Gates Cambridge Scholarship. In 2014 she earned a PhD in history from Trinity College, Cambridge, and currently she is a senior research fellow at the Shorenstein Center at Harvard. Educated is her first book.

Get in touch with the Author on her website.

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