I went into Educated not knowing much about it.
With the mistaken thought it would be thinkpiece on the state of America’s school system, I began the book ready for outrage and indignation. While I certainly found both of those emotions along with many others, the story was different from what I had expected.
Educated is Tara Westover’s memoir of growing up off the grid. She didn’t even have a birth certificate until well into her childhood.
Her childhood was one of running free in the mountains. Impressing her father with her singing talent. Learning homeopathy and healing oil blends.
But it was also a childhood that eschewed modern medicine when it was needed most. One in which long-term abuse was not only overlooked, but willfully covered up.
Education was a taboo concept. Any learning that happened outside of the home was suspect. Wrong. So it was surprising that Tara was able to not only go to college after a lifetime of loose homeschooling, but that she also excelled and earned a PHD.
The family dynamic is strange. And by strange, I mean criminally neglectful.
There are several places in the book in which I want to reach in with my hand and move the characters into different positions. Almost as if the book is a diorama with little plastic figurines, I see the disaster coming and want to simply place the figurines somewhere else. Here, I put the Tara figurine in the car with her grandmother and they sneak away. In another scene, a mysteriously large hand smacks Tara’s brother aside when he’s about to hurt her.
It’s a fascinating, romantic, and slightly terrifying concept, living off the grid. Especially when the person in charge has power that goes unchecked. And especially when that person abuses their power, turning the family into victims.
Educated: A Memoir
Published February 2018