Educated: A Book Review

Educated. What an intense book written by Tara Westover. To know that this incredible human being went from limited school education and a shocking up bringing to this intelligent and powerful woman gives one hope. Hope that they can do anything with the right self determination, resources and people’s support.

Mormon is a word I am familiar with. The way a Mormon lives I am not. Besides the concept that a man may marry more than one wife and that they believe in Jesus, I have not learned much about this way of living. Heck, my own Christian beliefs is something I struggle with daily and am continuously learning about. I have heard brief stories similar to Tara’s upbringing, but that is key. They were brief stories mentioned on the news. I realize that not all Mormon’s are like Tara’s family. With a quick Google search, I learned that the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saint’s stems off from Mormonism.

Much like Tara starts her book in her Author’s Note, this post is not about Mormonism. Or my lack of knowing what the religion is about. This post about the reaction the book brought to my heart and my mind.

Tara’s relationship with her family is millions of miles from the relationship I have with my family.

Wait. I want to delete that line. But I can’t. That was my first thought. Within seconds I realize that is not the case. In the beginning she loves her family. She deeply loves her parents and siblings. She loves them in the end too, but the relationships change. She loves them as I love my family. The main difference is that I still respect my family being an adult where I question her respect for some of them. Her parents guided her the way they knew how just as mine did. They were hard working individuals like mine. They taught her to be respectful as mine did. What they did not do was keep her safe like mine did. They did not trust her words like mine did and do.

The relationship Tara had with her mom was the most difficult for me. I imagine it was the hardest for her too. It was as if Tara’s mom was trying to make everyone happy. I think as a mom this is a natural tendency. She would agree with all parties to keep the peace. As Tara got older this caused confusion for her. It caused her to question the support she had from her mom when her mom said one thing to her and then differed her opinion on the subject when she commented another way in front of her husband. As a daughter one looks up to guidance from her mom. She had a strong pull to do so, but as Tara got older she had realizations that caused her to doubt her mom. Her mom was dedicated to her husband, as many Christians are, and did not stray from backing up her husband on all accounts. All accounts meaning the ones that did not keep Tara’s well being and safety in check. Maybe, some would read this and disagree. Tara’s father, and mother maybe, believed that they were following God’s plan.

The education Tara received is from one extreme to the other. The schooling she received is not taken for granted. That is clear in her memoir. It is well deserved. The elbow grease it took for her to pass the ACT and to pass her initial college classes is unfathomable. The education she received on life gave her perspective that most others would never be able to see. They may try to study it, they may try to understand it, they may try to dissect it, but she lived it. The challenges she went through taught her love, hard work, empathy, perspective, fear, intuition, self survival and the list could go on.

How does one trust in relationships after living a life like Tara’s? God teaches us to forgive. Her parents want her to forgive her brother Shawn. I am uncertain I could do it with the games and torture he put her through. Disease or not, he did not get the help he needed. My heart hurts for Tara. She continuously went home in search of her family’s support. At times she would get doses of it, but in the end she risked her life to come home. That is unfair and not the way God intends for us to live. I like to think that if Shawn received the help he needed that there could have been a possibility of her having the life she wanted and deserved as well as the love from her family. A situation full of manipulation.

For some reason this book makes me want to research this culture, but I am most certain it would make me angry. I can put myself in many people’s shoes and can understand a lot. This? Not so much. I understand 100% why this book has made multiple Best of Lists.

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