By Tara Westover,

Book cover of Educated: A Memoir

Book description



'One of the best books I have ever read . . . unbelievably moving' Elizabeth Day
'An extraordinary…

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Why read it?

11 authors picked Educated as one of their favorite books. Why do they recommend it?

I was deeply moved by this memoir of a young woman who overcomes incredible obstacles to pursue values (like a mainstream education) that no one in her family could understand.

To me, Westover’s story shows us the human capacity for developing sets of values that are better for us than the ones with which we were raised. 

Most people reading these book recommendations will not have had to fight for the value of going to school, but we do need to have courage to modify our goals in ways that other people might not like.

I think Westover is an…

From Valerie's list on understanding what's really important.

I can relate to the stories presented by Westover when it comes to overcoming the many challenges she faced as a Mormon. Her memoir underlines her determination to receive an education and her emphasis on the importance of having an education. Her journey towards obtaining her PhD is empowering and heartwarming. 

I look for literature that is beautifully and powerfully written, carrying universal experiences most can relate to. Even when the circumstances are different from my own, a story can grip my heart because I recognize bits of myself in it. Educated is the story of a girl deeply embedded in her parents’ religious community but completely isolated from school, friends, and culture outside that sectarian divide. Westover’s father reigned as a tyrant over the entire family. Any violation of his rules was met with punishment and deprivation. That control had devastating consequences for Westover and her relationship with her father.…

From Margie's list on memoirs on missing a father’s love.

I didn’t know what to expect when I began reading Educated, and what I got was totally unexpected. This book touched a nerve and then put balm on the pain. Parts of it were too close for comfort around family trauma. Balancing family obligations with personal needs and self-care is something I struggle with and apparently something this author struggled with as well. I thought I had challenges and difficulties in my life but my goodness; how did she ever emerge from her life circumstances with such wisdom and integrity? I have been reassured by this wonderful (though painful)…

From Rosalyn's list on people who show moral courage.

Our circumstances were very different, but I feel a real kinship to her description of a childhood with oppressive/overwhelming parents and the ways in which they attempted to constrict and cripple her future simply by imposing their own world view as a matter of course on their children. Her need to break from them to find herself also echoes my own need to do the same, which I did at the same age, leaving home to go to college, in my case to work my way through college on my own despite coming from an affluent background. But as I…

Westover’s memoir is a triumph over adversity story. I was drawn to it because Westover’s drive to become educated despite her family’s poverty reminded me of Kevin Coughlin, co-author of my book, and his quest to regain his eyesight after suddenly going blind at age thirty-six due to a rare genetic disease. I have found that by reading and writing about people who have “beaten the odds” it helps me to feel grateful that I, too, am one of these people. The odds that Westover would become educated were very slim, but her determination and perseverance produced the miracle,…

Tara Westover grew up in a survivalist family where her parents were suspicious of the outside world. She didn’t attend school until she was seventeen. Learning algebra and other subjects on her own, she did well on her college entrance exams and was accepted into Brigham Young University. She went on to attend Harvard and Cambridge Universities. Westover tries to hold together family ties while some relatives constantly planted doubts in her mind. As she succeeded academically, they tried to pull her back into their world at every turn. This story gives us all hope. Her grit inspires us to…

In many stories about powerful women, it is often the closest people in their lives these women must rebel against. Family is at the core of Tara Westover’s memoir, a family she is fiercely loyal to, and must find a way out of. In the mountains of Idaho, Tara grew up isolated from society. Her family didn’t believe in formal education, in doctors or institutions. They had almost no interaction with the outside world. It wasn’t until her brother went away to college that Tara began to understand the world of knowledge that was out there. Education became her weapon,…

From Serena's list on powerful female protagonists.

I chose this book because Tara Westover’s childhood was, in every way, the opposite of mine. First of all, growing up as a girl in a rural setting with fundamental religious and autocratic parents, she had little freedom. She was homeschooled until age 17. It’s an amazing story of resilience, as she battles to escape this environment and get an education, eventually journeying over oceans and across continents. Most bestselling memoirs are about such people who fought against such odds and won. But many of us have great foundational stories to tell that are full of struggles and cultural battles,…

From Neill's list on memoirs of childhood and youth.

You will never forget this book. Tara Westover experienced heartbreaking trauma as a child and young adult growing up in an isolated, cult-like family, yet this book is anything but a downer. Westover’s story of hope, curiosity, growth, and healing is inspiring, and provides a real-life story of how one young woman, with little or no outside support, overcame huge obstacles to create a rewarding life. Absorbing and beautifully written, Educated will inspire you to be the best you can be, regardless of what might have come before this moment.

From Cheryl's list on trauma in early childhood.

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