I opened up Educated last night, just as I was about to go to sleep. Bad idea. Do not do this, because you won’t be able to put it down.

Tara Westover writes with immediacy, beauty, and power in an astonishing memoir of her own journey from uneducated isolation to earning an education from the world’s most prestigious universities.

Westover’s father feared the government and resisted all its intrusions on his personal autonomy. He drove an unlicensed, uninsured car, did not register his children’s births, and did not send them to school. He did not believe in traditional medicine, encouraging his wife, an herbalist, to study midwifery. His antipathy to government expressed itself in antipathy to anything resembling safety. He removed seatbelts and operated equipment without safeguards and with reckless disregard. When his kids were injured, their mother treated them with her homeopathic junk and herbal tinctures and salves and her spiritual power.

The children were “homeschooled” which meant they were mostly unschooled. They learned to read, write, and do basic math. They were mal-educated in science and history, what little they were taught was paranormal bunk and conspiracist garbage. Despite all that, Tara wanted to go to college and with great determination, she made it to BYU, the famed Mormon university where she soon learned how incredibly uneducated she was.

Educated is an amazing memoir. It is more than a journey from ignorance to education, from unschooled to a doctorate, but from the prison of superstition, patriarchy, and fear to the liberation of self-worth and knowledge. Tara is fascinated by history and the great thinkers. She learns about Isaiah Berlin’s negative liberty and positive liberty intellectually, but her real journey is finding that positive liberty in her own life.

There is a lot of pain in this memoir. There is also a lot of love. Her parents loved and love her. She loved and loves them. But love is not always enough. To be a free person, she has to love herself enough to free herself and this the memoir of that journey.

Educated will be released February 20, 2018. I received an e-galley from the publisher through NetGalley.

 

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