Educated by Tara Westover


I didn't want to start this review by refuting the one I just read on Amazon (but I will). The Amazon review was very critical; it accused the author of lying or exaggerating based on the author's descriptions of dresses and her father's old fashioned way of speaking, like they were characters in the Little House on the Prairie. How ridiculous. First of all, why are reviewers that mean? I loved the way she profiled her life, how she evolved from an innocent young tomboy in a rural area of Idaho to an educated young woman in Utah and in England (and at Harvard, although she was having mental problems there, which broke my heart). In my opinion, the type of language she used to describe her father's speech (hillbilly talk and excuse me if that offends) sets the tone.

Her writing imbues a feeling (like in fiction) of time and place. Why would the reviewer think she is lying or exaggerating? I do believe danger and damage can happen in a junkyard, especially if children are doing the work. I do know a little bit about how parents don't let their children have their own opinions, but to be a zealot like her father and to have a mother who can't stand up to her husband so that her children are properly cared for, and an abusive brother -- that is terrible and may be something to write about, to get them to stop, or see her view, or maybe to garner support elsewhere.

And I do believe she was naive at first, at BYU (the Amazon reviewer couldn't get that). The bigger point she was trying to make, I think, is that there should never be any abuse in any family--give your children the right to their opinion without rejection, give them the right to an education, let them choose their religion, or critique it, seek medical help if it is needed. Don't "homeschool" your children if you aren't even doing it. Call 911, if it is required. Natural medicine is helpful, but in conjunction with conventional medicine from hospitals.

There should be no rejection between family members. Number One (unless there is abuse). There should be no pitting one family member against the other (not including abuse).

If you lived on a mountain farm with no electronics, wouldn't you take books to bed and read (when you weren't working) and wouldn't you be great at writing? Wouldn't you want to buy textbooks to learn algebra, trig, and calculus if you wanted to study and go to college? I didn't find it unbelievable in the least.

I was taken with her story, saddened by it, but also energized by it - how she rose above all the family adversity, but still wrote with empathy about her family--until she couldn't anymore. Sometimes you have to leave to get peace. Even family members. Who likes being abused? I wouldn't.

It was a great, interesting read. I found her so believable and sweet. She even included footnotes when memories varied between her siblings. It tugged at my heart. It was amazing.

The memoir is about a daughter who is part of a Mormon family living in a rural part of Idaho at the base of a mountain, running a junkyard on a farm. Her mother has a successful business making essential oils and was a midwife before an accident made it impossible. The father is anti-government/anti-establishment; his younger kids were homeschooled, but it stopped because they were too busy working the farm, which is the junkyard; the father does not believe in conventional medicine, he believes in homeopathy. This memoir is about everything that might go wrong in a family, but everything that might go right if a young girl puts her mind to it.

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