Educated, A Memoir

educatedI wish I could write as eloquently as people who write book reviews. When I read the reviews, the words just seem to flow together cohesively. I feel as though when I try to put words down that are not just thoughts in my head, that it comes out feeling as though I was wading a creek jumping from rock to rock. But yet I try. Please don’t judge me too harshly.

Our October Book Club is “Educated, A Memoir” by Tara Westover. It tells Westover’s story of her upbringing by a Mormon survivalist father who suffered either from bipolar depression or schizophrenia or possibly both and a mother who was a typical Mormon wife who acquiesced to her husband, the head of the household. In addition to the disfunction of her father and mother, Tara was terrorized by a brutal and sadistic older brother.

Tara and her brothers and sisters were not allowed to attend public school because, according to her father, those schools were the were taught by the “Illuminati”, a socialist segment of society outside the Mormon faith. What little schooling the children received was from their mother.

At the age of eleven, Tara was forced into “junking” in her father’s junkyard, stripping and sorting different metals. Little care was taken for anyone’s safety in the yard which resulted in devastating injuries to herself, her brother and her father. These injuries were not allowed to be treated by medical professionals, only by her mother who was an herbalist.

The implausibility of her story is that through sheer force of will and determination, Tara and two of her brothers went on to achieve college educations with Tara achieving the highest degree of Ph.D. Along the way, as Tara tries to juggle her new life with her old, she suffers from depression. As she tries to get her parents to believe the abuse she is subjected to by Shawn, she is made to believe that her memories are not real and that it is her education that is distorting her memories.

While reading this book, I found myself frustrated by Tara’s inability to break her family’s hold on her. I had to remind myself that I was judging Tara through eyes that were extremely different from the ones she looked at the world through.


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