I’m not a memoir fan. I’m generally of the opinion that when I read, I want to be entertained. I want to get lost in a fictional world with a story so satisfying that the hours fly by. There’s truth in fiction and that’s enough for me. I usually don’t need or want the real truth of someone else’s life. But, Educated was my neighborhood book club read this month, so I acquiesced, and – just, wow.
Tara Westover was born into a family of preppers in rural Idaho. She had no formal schooling, no access to modern medicine, and she was on the receiving end of devastating mental and physical abuse. Yet somehow, this incredible woman found her way to Brigham Young University, then Trinity College, and on to Harvard.
Her story is at times quite hard to read. I wanted to reach through the pages and shake some of her family members, or worse. But because we take this journey with Tara, there is satisfaction in her strength and in her accomplishments, even as our hearts break for her. Through the lens of education, Tara recognizes the rampant untreated mental illness in various family members, and discovers that many of the ‘truths’ she’s been taught are incompatible with the reality she discovers in the larger world. She eventually comes to terms with the fact that she can love her family, and let them go.
Skillfully written, Educated packs an intense emotional punch. Westover’s courage, both in surviving her childhood and in baring her soul on the page, is heroic. This is a story worth reading.