I’ve just finished Educated, Tara Westover’s memoir of growing up in a survivalist family in Idaho. Her father did not allow her to go to school and she never saw a doctor. She didn’t have a birth certificate until she was nine, and even when she got it, nobody could confirm the date of her birth. The youngest of seven children, she began to study on her own after an older brother who had left home to go to college urged her to prepare for the ACT so that she too could get away.
As a freshman at Brigham Young University, she thought Europe was a country and asked a professor what the Holocaust was. By her late twenties, having earned a PhD in history at Cambridge University, she decided to write the memoir that has been on the bestseller list for fifty weeks.
I read Educated in two days. It’s not an easy read. It’s disturbing. If it were fiction, I would think the author had lost all sense of reality because the story she told could never have happened.
But it did. The book is courageous and the story is well told. In an interview, the author stated her belief that what happened in her home wasn’t malicious, that the members of her family loved one another. In the end, she had to make a difficult choice.
Parts of the book are hard to read. It’s not for the faint of heart, but it is unforgettable.