Educated: A Memoir

Tara Westover. Random House, $28 (350p) ISBN 978-0-399-59050-4
A girl claws her way out of a claustrophobic, violent fundamentalist family into an elite academic career in this searing debut memoir. Westover recounts her upbringing with six siblings on an Idaho farm dominated by her father Gene (a pseudonym), a devout Mormon with a paranoid streak who tried to live off the grid, kept four children (including the author) out of school, refused to countenance doctors (Westover’s mother, Faye, was an unlicensed midwife who sold homeopathic medicines), and stockpiled supplies and guns for the end-time. Westover was forced to work from the age of 11 in Gene’s scrap and construction businesses under incredibly dangerous conditions; the grisly narrative includes lost fingers, several cases of severe brain trauma, and two horrible burns that Faye treated with herbal remedies. Thickening the dysfunction was the author’s bullying brother, who physically brutalized her for wearing makeup and other immodest behaviors. When she finally escaped the toxic atmosphere of dogma, suspicion, and patriarchy to attend college and then grad school at Cambridge, her identity crisis precipitated a heartbreaking rupture. Westover’s vivid prose makes this saga of the pressures of conformity and self-assertion that warp a family seem both terrifying and ordinary. (Feb.)
Reviewed on: 12/11/2017
Release date: 02/20/2018
Paperback - 565 pages - 978-0-525-58998-3
Compact Disc - 978-0-525-52805-0
Ebook - 400 pages - 978-1-4434-5250-2
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Audio book sample courtesy of Penguin Random House Audio

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