Tara Westover and her family grew up preparing for the End of Days but, according to the government, she didn’t exist. 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 hospitals.
As she grew older, her father became more radical and her brother more violent. At sixteen, Tara knew she had to leave home. In doing so she discovered both the transformative power of education, and the price she had to pay for it.
I don’t read a lot of non-fiction and I think it’s even my first memoir but I wanted to read this novel that features on many lists.
I have a basic knowledge of Mormonism but Tara’s family are quite extreme in their belief. They (the parents in any case) would rather die than consult a doctor or a hospital, as is proven after a few horrible accidents where more than one member of the family has severe injuries. But they believe medicine will poison your body and her father is on the front line in the war with the Illuminati who run the hospitals and all the government instances. The 7 children of the family are home schooled but don’t receive any actual schooling as they are put to work either in the kitchen with their mother preparing ointments or in the junkyard with their father. I could quite well imagine how the farm at Buck’s Peak looked and how she ran around like a feral child.
Her life seems set out in stone but then, along with two of her brothers, she decides to study on her own, take a test and enroll in college. You can imagine her father is not happy about this and it is the first tear in the family because as Tara’s world widens, she realises that she was never allowed an opinion, her fathers visions of the world could not be questioned, and now she starts to have her own thoughts and opinions.
Educated was a distressing novel to read. Not only are her parents so far removed from reality with their distorted vision (religious nuts comes to mind if I’m honest) Tara also suffers physical and emotional abuse from one of her brothers (not sexually thankfully but if he had it would be a sad conclusion that even that wouldn’t have changed anything in this story). Tara is already an outsider when she speaks up about her brother and it might be that that made their parents choice who to believe easier to make. Sadly, they don’t take her side and her other siblings are pressured into making the same choice. I felt the betrayal by her parents cutting very deep with me, and it frustrated me how she tries to reach out and mend things time and time again by returning home.
I loved seeing how she takes control of her life and not be dictated any longer by a voice without reason. I felt very disappointed in her parents, especially in her mother who lies to her and it is clear she knows very well what the real situation is. I saw the struggle and the pull of her family until the very last pages and it made me sad for her.
Educated is a powerful and thought provoking novel that I won’t easily forget.
I bought an ecopy of this novel. This is my honest opinion.