Educated by Tara Westover
The memoir "Educated" by Tara Westover is a work that explores the author's journey from a secluded upbringing in the mountains of Idaho to the world of academia. Westover was raised in a fundamentalist Mormon family, whose beliefs and practices were not only strict and harsh but also dangerous.
The book begins by introducing the reader to the Westover family and providing insights into their beliefs and lifestyle. Tara is the youngest of seven siblings, and her parents are extremely religious and paranoid about the government and modern medicine. The family is isolated from the world, and the children are denied access to formal education and medical care. Tara and her siblings are homeschooled by their mother, who teaches them only what she deems necessary to know, which is mainly the Bible and the principles of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
The first few chapters of the book describe the harsh living conditions and the dangerous work that the children are forced to do on their father's junkyard. The author also recounts the various accidents and injuries that occurred, which went untreated because of her parents' distrust of doctors and modern medicine.
As Tara grows older, she begins to question her family's way of life and their beliefs. She becomes increasingly interested in education and decides to teach herself enough to gain admission into Brigham Young University, a Mormon college in Utah. Her pursuit of education becomes a turning point in the story, as it leads to a conflict with her family and a struggle to find her own identity.
The middle of the book details Westover's experiences in college and the challenges she faces as a first-generation student. She struggles to adapt to the new environment and to make up for the lack of basic knowledge that she missed out on during her childhood. She also grapples with the emotional trauma of leaving her family and the conflicts that arise between her old beliefs and her new experiences.
As the narrative progresses, Tara becomes more independent and begins to question her family's beliefs more profoundly. She realizes that her father is suffering from a severe mental illness and that her family's way of life is not only dangerous but also abusive. Her growing awareness of these issues leads to a significant conflict with her family, which culminates in a violent confrontation with her brother.
The climax of the book comes when Tara decides to leave her family behind and pursue a career in academia. She goes on to earn a Ph.D. from Cambridge University and becomes a renowned historian. However, the author's journey is not without its struggles, and she struggles to reconcile her past with her present and to come to terms with the trauma that she experienced.
In conclusion, "Educated" is a powerful and deeply personal memoir that explores the themes of family, identity, and the pursuit of knowledge. The book offers a compelling account of a young woman's journey from isolation and ignorance to enlightenment and self-discovery. It is a story that resonates with readers of all backgrounds and provides a unique perspective on the challenges of breaking free from the confines of one's upbringing.