Sunday, August 19, 2018

Educated (Tara Westover)

For most people, it would be impossible to fathom the life that Tara Westover has had. Her descriptions of her family life in the mountain are raw and detailed but true, and I found myself both wanting to turn the pages quickly but dreading what might be coming next.

Westover was born into a survivalist family who didn't believe in school or modern medicine. In fact, there were many serious accidents the family had over the years, and the major injuries were, for the most part, treated at home. Westover doesn't mince words describing the extent of the injuries, nor the abuse she suffered at the hands of her brother. On the few occasions she left the mountain, she saw what she was missing in the world, including getting an education. What transpires is Tara's amazing story of grit, determination, and family estrangement -- a story that would lead her to the world's finest schools to eventually obtain a PhD.

The most shocking sentences happen toward the end of Educated: "My family was splitting down the middle -- the three who had left the mountain, and the four who had stayed. The three with doctorates, and the four without high school diplomas." Westover has created a real page-turner here; as you read it, you have to keep reminding yourself that it's all true.