Cori’s Pick: Educated by Tara Westover

Wow.  For every page I turned in this book, that was my reaction….just, wow.

Tara Westover’s new memoir, Educated will make you realize what it truly means to prevail.  To overcome.  To succeed….even though Tara herself did not often feel triumphant.

Tara was born on a mountain in rural Idaho in 1986.  The actual date of her birth was guesstimated – not documented.  She is one of seven children, born to Mormon survivalists, that do not believe in doctors, hospitals, public education, etc. and viewed such establishments as suspicious and a means for the government to brainwash.  Her mother is a midwife and herbalist, her father a junkyard scrapper.  Tara lived her life on that mountain until the age of 17, never stepping foot in a classroom, knowing only what she learned from her parents. Everyday Tara and her siblings worked alongside their father, in the dirty, cold, and dangerous conditions on that mountain.  Skull cracks, broken bones, concussions, cuts, and burns were all left ‘in God’s hands’ to heal.


When one of Tara’s older brothers escapes the mountain for school and reports that she can lead a life filled with possibilities, Tara starts to believe it.  Under her own instruction, she studies text books and schedules to take the ACT test as her last chance to get off the mountain and go to school.  This action triggers a series of acceptance letters, grants, and scholarships that lead Tara from rural Idaho to BYU, Harvard, Cambridge and beyond.  While you’d think Tara (and anyone!) would be basking in the joy of such accomplishments, the tone of Tara’s memoir is much more solemn.  Throughout the book, Tara must cope with the physical and mental consequences of being disloyal to her family, by questioning and believing there is more to life than what they tell her.  This is a coming-of-age story that left me in awe.  Tara is so driven to overcome the circumstances she lives in, while hardly knowing what life off the mountain looks like.  She had to take risks that many of us can’t fathom – including losing your family for a chance to learn how the world works.