All Booked Up: Educated

Alexandra Fosbury ’21, Life & Style Editor

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This winter break, however, I got Educated as a Christmas gift and thought I would give it a read. Within the first few pages I was completely engrossed.

Without spoiling anything, Educated is an autobiographical novel by Tara Westover that details her escape from life in rural Idaho. She grew up in family that was preparing for the “end of times”. 

This meant that Tara and her siblings did not attend a formal education, never visited doctors, and did not have a birth certificate (nor a specific birthdate). Eventually, Tara grows increasingly interested in the modern world outside of her small, isolated cabin.

Her father, who Tara alludes has severe mental health issues that were never addressed, is vehemently opposed to her attending university. However, with the help of an older sibling, Tara takes the ACT and receives a scholarship to attend Brigham Young University (BYU).

Following four difficult years at BYU, Tara continues her education in the United Kingdom. The culture shock she experienced, moving from a strict Mormon family to a school of more reformed Mormons was powerful, as Tara had to learn and adapt quickly. It is not necessarily the story of her success, however, that impacted me, it was instead the raw truth of how many times Tara “relapsed” and turned against education as well as her complicated relationship with her family. 

On a variety of occasions, Tara moves back home for a short period of time while at BYU and ends up falling prey to her father’s abusive tendencies, working dangerous jobs and helping prepare for the “end of days.” Regardless, she perseveres and ends up continuing her education. The most harrowing part of the story, however, was the story Tara shares of her relationship with her family. 

As a warning, Educated does deal with themes of physical, verbal and emotional assault. These stories, while difficult to read at times, make me appreciate Tara as an individual so much more because she had the power to go against her whole family and tell the truth about her abusive father and brother.

While Tara lost her relationship with her parents, sister and one of her brothers, she continually mentions how eternally grateful she is to her other brothers, their wives and, of course, for the education she received not just in the classroom but outside of it as well.

If you are looking for an impactful autobiography, Educated is the book for you.