My reading for June is going well. I have one week left and one book left on my June TBR. So, I’m hoping that because the book is a bit shorter, I’ll be able to zip through it this week. Today, however, I wanted to share my review of Educated by Tara Westover. I don’t typically reach for nonfiction and have rarely finished a memoir, but I ripped through this memoir and couldn’t stop thinking about it between reading sessions. This book highly recommended by people who read it. I first hear about this book from Ali Edwards, who shared her praise for this book on Instagram.
What appealed to me about this book was the educational journey that Westover experienced, her desire to learn, what her learning about the world meant for her relationship with her family, and how the family dynamics at play. As I said, I often have trouble getting into nonfiction. I put down Hilbilly Elegy a few months ago and haven’t picked it back up. While interesting, it wasn’t a book I yearned to keep reading. So, I was nervous this book would cause me to hit a reading snag. However, I was sucked in from pretty much the first page.
This book focuses on Westover’s childhood, which was riddled with religious fanaticism, oppression, paranoia, danger, and abuse. I was rooting for Tara throughout the whole novel, and at times wanted to shake her. I wanted to shout, “but you’re so much better than that!” or “ask for help!” and I appreciate the self-awareness this memoir has. Westover repeatedly explains that her actions were not rational and that she had an utter inability to ask for help. Honestly, this book made me feel appreciative of the incredible support system I have while seeking education and made me want to reach out to mentors who pushed me to improve and challenge myself and believe in myself, as I watched Westover gain some really strong mentors.
While some parts of the story are really hard to read (super abusive brother and delusion of her parents), I just couldn’t stop reading and rooting for Tara to overcome the terribleness of her family structure and the oppression they attempted to impose on anyone who challenged her father or older brother. Honestly, the whole time I wasn’t sure why her father was so defensive of her abusive brother. I get not wanting to face hard issues, but it seemed like his relationship with Tara was, initially, much stronger than with the brother. I found his defense of the brother a bit confusing, but it also made sense given the delusion and paranoia documented earlier in the story.
The story has a satisfying ending, and it’s so interesting to watch Westover’s personal growth. I love her writing style, and I love that she’s honest about where she is with her family relationships and where she hopes they go. I thoroughly enjoyed this read and I think it’s so beneficial to accept that we can love people but sometimes it’s better to not have them in our lives. I was so intrigued by this story from start to finish. I may or may not have entered a rabbit hole of interviews with the author on YouTube upon finishing it. Some critics say this book isn’t inspiring. I think it is insofar as accepting that it’s perfectly okay to put yourself first and pursue an education with everything you have.
I highly, highly recommend this read. I think if you want a hard but strong story, this is for you!