Educated is a memoir of a woman named Tara Westover who shares her life story growing up in a rural town, under the care of survivalist parents who happens to be fundamentalist Mormons. She tells her journey of educating herself through self-study and formal education from some of the top universities in the world. More importantly, she shares her journey of breaking free from a narrative that was written for her by other people.
It’s been a long while since I last read a book that kept me kept me engrossed. Although Educated is neither suspenseful nor exciting, I found it very engaging and the writing poignant and the emotions raw.
Let me just put it out there: I know this book is polarizing and controversial. While a lot of people loved the book, there’s also a sizeable bunch that is highly skeptical of it. From the reviews I read, it mostly stems from the Million Little Pieces memoir fiasco. I think readers have the right to feel that way. Memoirs are pretty troublesome, to begin with. This is storytelling from one person’s point of view. How one perceives words, actions or events certainly differs from other people. Also, there were many things that you could not believe can happen. I had doubts right from the beginning too. Some of it include: How was she able to teach herself to pass her GED? How was she able to adapt herself in the modern world that she was so detached to? How did she remember what people around her said? How did she not get sick without vaccination? How was she able to finance her daily expenses in the universities, etc.
The reason I enjoyed the book is that I chose to suspend my judgment early on and accept this book as half-memoir, half-fiction. The second reason being I could relate to some parts of Westover’s life story. While I do not come from a strictly religious or survivalist family, I can certainly understand the world of the religious. I was born and raised in a country with one of the largest Catholic populations worldwide. So tales of abuse and oppression coming from extreme religious beliefs do not surprise me. In a way, like Westover, I also have this on-going self-education to unlearn harmful and unrealistic thoughts, behaviors, and expectations to live happier and at peace.
As my partner once told me “If you like it, you like it.” For now, I choose to like this book and will not ruin the good reading experience I had. Unless there’s some massive, credible expose that will prove everything she’s written is wrong, then I will seriously look into it. Besides, I highly doubt the Westover family (The ones against Tara) will be brave enough to speak against her in the media, otherwise, they’re setting themselves up to be investigated by the authorities for everything they’ve done and continue to do.
Final Verdict: For entertainment’s sake, I highly recommend this. I believe this will inspire readers to educate themselves and allow themselves to be free from the shackles that were created for them by other people.