Book Review // Educated by Tara Westover

Book Review by Nicola Bourne

Educated is the incredible memoir of Tara Westover who, after being raised on the edge (in so many ways) seeks to educate herself (also, in so many ways).  Westover seeks education in the literal sense – she has no formal education growing up.  In a worldly sense – her parents are extreme fundamentalists who cut their children off from interaction with ‘outsiders’.  And in a personal sense – how does a young woman fit into a world she has no sense of?


At the beginning of the memoir, I found it very hard to place this book, or put it into any sort of time period, but I think that was the point.  I want to bring order to the book because my childhood and life is relatively ordered.  Westover’s was not.  She cannot put a timeframe on her life because she didn’t even know her own birthdate and only had a rough idea of her age.  Westover very cleverly brings this feeling of displacement of time into the text.  Geographically, I found this novel memoir very hard to place, but again, that’s the point.  It’s based somewhere out on the fringes of society that you don’t normally see, that is easily ignored.

One of my favourite things about this book is that it steers away from having a breakthrough moment, where everything after that point is fine.  Even once she is ‘educated’ the emotional struggle and need to find her place is in a continual flux.  At points, you think she has left her physically violent and mentally toxic family behind, only for her to go back to them.  Like life, her journey ebbs and flows ad the trauma of her childhood echo’s through into adulthood.

I found this book completely engaging and I highly recommend it.

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Thank you NetGalley and Random House for allowing me to review Educated by Tara Westover.