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“Educated” is a gripping and poignant memoir written by Tara Westover, recounting her incredible journey from a life of isolation and ignorance in rural Idaho to becoming an educated woman with a PhD from Cambridge University. The book offers a powerful and unflinching account of Tara’s upbringing in a survivalist family, her struggle for knowledge and education, and the transformation that ensued as she broke free from the constraints of her past. The book opens with a vivid portrayal of Tara’s childhood in the mountains of Idaho, where she was raised by her parents and six siblings. Her father, Gene, held radical beliefs, rejecting formal education, government, and modern medicine. Tara’s mother, Faye, practiced herbalism and midwifery, often treating injuries and illnesses using homemade remedies. Tara’s family lived in extreme conditions, preparing for the end of the world and avoiding any contact with the outside world. They stockpiled supplies, shunned medical assistance, and resisted government intervention. Education was considered unnecessary, and Tara and her siblings grew up without attending school. Instead, they worked in their father’s junkyard and assisted with their mother’s midwifery practice.

 

Despite her lack of formal education, Tara displayed a thirst for knowledge and an innate curiosity about the world beyond her isolated community. She learned to read and write from her older brother, Tyler, who encouraged her intellectual pursuits. As she got older, Tara longed to attend school, but her father vehemently opposed the idea, believing that the education system was a tool of the government’s brainwashing. Tara’s turning point came when her older brother, Shawn, became increasingly abusive towards her. The violence escalated, and Tara realized that she needed to escape her oppressive family environment. With the support of her brother Tyler, Tara made the difficult decision to leave home and pursue her education. Her journey to education was arduous and filled with obstacles. She initially struggled to adapt to the norms and expectations of formal education, having been isolated from mainstream society for most of her life. However, her determination and perseverance propelled her forward, and she eventually gained admission to Brigham Young University (BYU). College life was a revelation for Tara, as she encountered ideas and perspectives vastly different from those she had grown up with. She excelled academically, but the emotional and psychological scars from her past haunted her, leading to moments of self-doubt and internal conflict. Yet, she persisted, and her academic achievements earned her a scholarship to pursue further studies at Cambridge University. Tara’s experiences at Cambridge exposed her to a world of intellectual rigor and cultural diversity. She struggled to find her place, feeling like an outsider among her more privileged peers. Nevertheless, she continued to grow intellectually and emotionally, gaining a deeper understanding of herself and her past. “Educated” is a deeply introspective memoir that delves into themes of identity, family, and the power of education. Tara’s writing is candid and evocative, conveying the emotional complexity of her journey. She confronts the contradictions in her upbringing, the love she still feels for her family, and the emotional toll of breaking free from their beliefs.

 

One of the book’s central themes is the transformative power of education. Through her pursuit of knowledge, Tara liberated herself from the confines of her past, challenging her preconceived notions and embracing a broader worldview. Her journey serves as a testament to the resilience of the human spirit and the potential of education to change lives. At its heart, “Educated” is a story of self-discovery and empowerment. Tara’s journey from a girl with no formal education to a woman with a PhD reflects the strength of the human spirit and the transformative impact of education. It also sheds light on the importance of breaking free from harmful ideologies and finding one’s own path to personal growth and fulfillment.

 

While “Educated” is a compelling and inspiring memoir, it also raises ethical questions about the author’s portrayal of her family members and the reliability of her memories. Some critics have expressed concerns about the accuracy of certain events, as they were based on recollections rather than documented evidence. “Educated” is a remarkable and thought-provoking memoir that offers a powerful exploration of resilience, the pursuit of knowledge, and the search for identity. Tara Westover’s journey from an isolated and uneducated childhood to academic success serves as a testament to the transformative power of education and the strength of the human spirit. Her story is both inspiring and unsettling, prompting readers to reflect on the importance of breaking free from the constraints of the past and embracing the possibilities that education can offer.

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