Educated – Tara Westover | Review

Can I just say: my book club is pretty great at picking our reads! We used to do a voting system, but this book was the first one after we changed to a new system of the host of the get together chooses the book – I’m also interested to hear how your book club chooses their next read? I love seeing how different people run their book clubs!


Tara Westover grew up preparing for the End of Days, watching for the sun to darken, for the moon to drip as if with blood. She spent her summers bottling peaches and her winters rotating emergency supplies, hoping that when the World of Men failed, her family would continue on, unaffected.

She hadn’t been registered for a birth certificate. She had no school records because she’d never set foot in a classroom, and no medical records because her father didn’t believe in doctors or hospitals. According to the state and federal government, she didn’t exist.

As she grew older, her father became more radical, and her brother, more violent. At sixteen Tara decided to educate herself. Her struggle for knowledge would take her far from her Idaho mountains, over oceans and across continents, to Harvard and to Cambridge. Only then would she wonder if she’d travelled too far. If there was still a way home.

EDUCATED is an account of the struggle for self-invention. It is a tale of fierce family loyalty, and of the grief that comes with the severing of the closest of ties. With the acute insight that distinguishes all great writers, from her singular experience Westover has crafted a universal coming-of-age story that gets to the heart of what an education is and what it offers: the perspective to see one’s life through new eyes, and the will to change it.

Blurb from Booktopia.


What a read! Cracking the spine on this book was truly like stepping in to another world, one that I felt I’d read only in fiction because my brain just can’t fathom growing up in a world or family like the one Tara Westover did (I’ve led a pretty sheltered life anyway, let’s be honest, and this was just a whole other level).

In all honesty, I did think that there’d be more of the ‘education’ side of her life written about in this book, so if you intend to read it, know that a lot of this memoir lies in Westover’s life before her ‘escape’ to a world of tertiary education. It was a surprise to me, but I was so entranced by her family and the workings of them that I found myself not minding this discovery as much as I initially thought. I have described it to friends as being similar to a car crash – there were some gut-wrenching, sickening scenes in the book but I found I couldn’t stop reading or look away, I had to know what happened. From speaking to others (at work, and in my book club), this isn’t the case for everyone and some people are disappointed that the education side doesn’t start until maybe halfway (or more) through the book – so that would be my one caveat around what I found to be a pretty incredible story.

I found Westover’s writing to be quite phenomenal for someone with her background (both growing up and then writing as a historian and essayist). I found it enthralling and it certainly kept me intrigued, I never got the sense I was being too bogged down in small details. I also appreciated the footnotes scattered throughout which made known when the author’s memory conflicted with other people who were ‘at the scene’ or involved. To me, this made me feel she was very transparent in her writing, and made clear she was telling her version of these events and memories.

Now, I know there are people out there who have read this book and have their suspicions about the level of truth there is to it. I personally wasn’t reading this book trying to pick it apart, nor do I want to take a look under the microscope and find ways in which the story may not add up, because whatever way you look at it, this is a woman who has no doubt experienced trauma & a life that I cannot even begin to imagine. I don’t know there is anyone out there who would be able to go through that, and keep an exact account of every detail of the life they’ve led – no doubt there are some seriously suppressed memories and issues that Westover needed to try unpicking before writing this memoir. I applaud her, and have a serious problem with those who feel the need to call it a ‘fantasy’ book on Goodreads (and if that happens to be you and you’ve found this page, no, I won’t engage you in the comments because I’m really not interested.)


Verdict: An enthralling, intoxicating read that had me engrossed throughout. Slow in parts but captivating for the majority. If it’s a story/blurb that interests you, I have a feeling it won’t disappoint.

Page Length: 400

Publisher: Cornerstone

I’ve been really happy with the non-fiction reads I’ve been picking up lately. It’s not a genre I normally delve in to very often. I’d love to hear about any similar reads or non-fiction books/memoirs you’ve enjoyed so I can (maybe) discover them too.

I’d also love to hear your thoughts on Educated, if you’ve read it.

M xx

Buy ‘Educated’ here

3 thoughts on “Educated – Tara Westover | Review

  1. Hi Mel. I also just chose The Educated for my BC , on recommendation from another friend. I couldn’t agree more with your very succinct review of it. I did get a bit bogged down with how awful her family were, but to be able to write so well from the lack of education that she’s had was amazing. I didn’t question whether it was true, I just took it for a very well written & very descriptive read. Yes, The side notes made it more credible.

    Liked by 1 person

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