Educated is a memoir written by Tara Westover about growing up in a survivalist family.  Her family resisted the influence of doctors, public education, and mainstream society. Westover defied all odds against her and eventually received a PHD in Philosophy from Cambridge. Throughout her life, Westover expresses extreme loyalty to her family, which sometimes restricts her from bettering herself

Tara Westover grew up on a mountain away from the rest of society. She supported her father in his junkyard business. The junkyard business caused many concussions, bruises, and burns throughout the years. The family was not allowed to seek help from a doctor. Instead Westover’s mother used her herbalism medicine to heal them. Tara’s role in the family was not representative of a girl, but more an extra pair of hands to support her family. In her early years, Tara was not aware that she was a different gender from her brothers. As she grew older and developed, she was often made to feel ashamed of her attempts to appear more feminine. 

Eventually, Tara realized that there was more to life than what was being offered to her by her family, so she took it upon herself to educate herself so she could be accepted into university. Through this process, readers see Westover discover the world that was hidden from her, and aspects of herself that she did not know before. A poignant moment is when she learns about the Holocaust for the first time. She also learns that it is okay to express herself as a girl.

As Tara becomes more aware, she realizes that her family was wrong in the way they raised her. She learns that her family holds deep prejudice against many facets of mainstream society, and that they tried to make her feel the same by hiding her from the world. Tara teaches her readers a great deal about forgiveness by accepting her family as they are, but at the same time acknowledging that such life is not for her anymore.  

-Emily Scott  
Junior Girl
Girl Museum Inc.

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