Tara Westover grew up in Bucks Peak, the daughter of a Mormon Survivalist father who frequently ranted about the imposition of “west coast socialism on the good people of Idaho.” She never went to school or to the doctor and didn’t have a birth certificate until she was eleven. Instead she read the Bible and the Book of Mormon, worked in her father’s scrap metal yard, and prepared for the End of the World or Y2K—whichever one came first. Westover thought she knew how her life would play out. She would marry at eighteen, learn about herbs and midwifery from her mother, and live in a house built by her husband on her father’s land. In the meantime, her brother would abuse her and call her a whore and even dance class would be considered one of Satan’s deceptions because it “claimed to teach dance but actually taught promiscuity. Against all odds, Westover turned her back on this world. With no knowledge of the Holocaust, thinking that Europe was a country, and only having vaguely heard the word “Shakespeare,” she attended Brigham Young University. Her thirst to learn “how the gatekeepers of history had come to terms with their own ignorance and partiality” led her to study at Cambridge University and earn a PhD from Harvard—drawn to such “unwomanly” subjects as law, politics and Jewish History. Educated is a raw and fiercely brave memoir that goes further than Hillbilly Elegy in giving voice to hidden aspects of the American experience.
Educated by Tara Westover