Educated by Tara Westover


A memoir by a woman in her early thirties? Really?

Really. Tara Westover has already lived a life–a number of lives, actually–fuller than most of us will lead if we’re lucky enough to be on this earth a hundred years.

Her story is an amazing one, so far removed from what mainstream America considers “regular” society that she might as well have been raised on Mars. In the nineteenth century. By wolves.

But she was raised in rural Idaho in a large fundamentalist Mormon family. Her father was mentally ill, probably bipolar, narcissistic, sociopathic, frequently paranoid, aggressively ignorant. Think Donald Trump, but distilled down and without the trappings of high office.

One of Tara’s older brothers was sadistic and abusive and beyond cruel. Her mother was intrinsically smart but irrational, disturbed, and mostly a pushover, a slave to her husband’s whims and fancies. Both parents suffered the effects of major physical trauma. Her other siblings were divided between those who fell completely under the spell of their father and those who managed to see through the radical religious beliefs and conspiracy theories and false perspectives and fake healings and misogyny and break away, at least partially.

Tara fell into the latter group. What she accomplished, and how she did it, was nearly miraculous, and I won’t go further than that, except to say that along the way she also became an accomplished writer. You must read the book, and then thank God or fate or your family that you haven’t had to endure even half of her hardships.

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