Friday 17 August 2018

Review: Educated by Tara Westover

Tara Westover grew up preparing for the End of Days, watching for the sun to darken, for the moon to drip as if with blood. She spent her summers bottling peaches and her winters rotating emergency supplies, hoping that when the World of Men failed, her family would continue on, unaffected. 

She hadn’t been registered for a birth certificate. She had no school records because she’d never set foot in a classroom, and no medical records because her father didn’t believe in doctors or hospitals. According to the state and federal government, she didn’t exist. 

As she grew older, her father became more radical, and her brother, more violent. At sixteen Tara decided to educate herself. Her struggle for knowledge would take her far from her Idaho mountains, over oceans and across continents, to Harvard and to Cambridge. Only then would she wonder if she’d travelled too far. If there was still a way home. 

EDUCATED is an account of the struggle for self-invention. It is a tale of fierce family loyalty, and of the grief that comes with the severing of the closest of ties. With the acute insight that distinguishes all great writers, from her singular experience Westover has crafted a universal coming-of-age story that gets to the heart of what an education is and what it offers: the perspective to see one's life through new eyes, and the will to change it.

Review: This was one of those books that was very different from what I was expecting and it took me a while to process my thoughts. This was actually a really wonderful read. I listened on audiobook and the narration was great, they got the tone of the memoir just right. I was aware that this was a book about someone who hadn't been educated in the traditional sense but I didn't realise quite how many obstacles Tara had had to overcome to get to where she is today-it was really inspiring.

There are definitely plenty of scenes involving education, both early education and the education she chose to go and pursue herself in later life, but there was a surprising amount about her home life and the education that that provided her with. There is also a great deal about how her faith affected her life and how her parents raised her. Her relationship with the Mormon faith is very interesting to read about and definitely made me go away and do some reading of my own.

This book made me think about many many other things as well. Because the title of the book is Educated and I'm a teacher, I really thought it would be all about schooling, but actually because school was absent for so much of this writer's life, there is an awful lot about the education she received at home about so many different things. The things she knew and the things she didn't when she eventually went into more traditional education were really surprising and so different from what I would have even thought. The fact that she learnt so much off her own back as well was very inspiring and I really feel like a took a lot from this book!

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