ASK Musings

No matter where you go, there you are.



September 2019



Educated by Tara Westover

Written by , Posted in Reviews

Five Stars

Best for:
People who generally trust Barack Obama’s judgment on books.

In a nutshell:
Tara Westover was raised in a devout Mormon household, with an overbearing father who wouldn’t allow her to go to school. She finds a way to college, and learns about so much that has been hidden from her before.

Worth quoting:
I listened to this one, so nothing stands out, but the writing is great so I’m sure there are many choice phrases.

Why I chose it:
This book seems to be everywhere. I’ve picked it up and put it down at least a dozen times; I finally got the audio book to listen to while running. Good choice.

I don’t think I was expecting a book this intense and dramatic. Tara Westover is one of seven (I think) kids, raised in Idaho by her parents: a faith healer and a scrapper / contractor. The family believes in a very devout form of Mormonism, though Westover makes it very clear up front that she does not attribute her family’s action to being religious. This isn’t a book about religion being good or bad; it’s about how the decisions parents make affect their children. How withholding education and creating a bubble can cause so much harm.

Westover doesn’t have a birth certificate. She spends her entire youth being homeschooled, except she isn’t really taught anything that doesn’t come from the Bible, the Book of Mormon, or her mother’s holistic ‘healing.’ She’s not vaccinated, and she doesn’t take an ibuprofen until she’s in her late teens. She works around heavy machinery. But she also has interests and desire outside of the mountain that is her home.

I appreciate that the book isn’t about a need to get a college education – it’s about needing the opportunity to learn about the world from more than one person. We don’t all need college degrees, but we do need to be exposed to different ideas, to be able to form opinions about the world and our place in it. I also appreciate how Westover explores the traumas of her youth. She has a physically abusive brother and parents who refuse to intervene, and she has to wrestle with what that means for her and her continued relationship with her family.

It’s a deeply personal, intense, and interesting story, and despite the specifics being things I doubt many of us can relate to, there’s still something in there that we can all take away.

Keep it / Pass to a Friend / Donate it / Toss it:
If I’d bought a physical copy I’d pass it to a friend.

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