Some books just blow you away.


I read “Educated” by Tara Westover in two days. When I was finished, I had that rare and special feeling of wanting more. Maybe that is because even though the book is finished, Tara’s story isn’t. Maybe that is part of the magic of the narrative. It is the story of a living, breathing person whose story is still playing out. That in and of itself makes the stakes in this book so much higher.


The book tells the story of Tara and her family, a clan that is led by her survivalist father. In the shadow of a beautiful mountain in Idaho, he has committed to preparing for the end of the world and expects his wife and children to do the same. This involves packing “go bags” in case they have to hide in the mountains from federal agents, burying a gas tank so that they can function when the rest of society is crippled, and canning countless jars of peaches so that they will not starve.


Tara’s tumultuous upbringing is also devoid of one key component: an education. Because of her father’s fear of the government, Tara is not allowed to attend school, and home schooling is minimal at best.


There were moments in this book that drew me out of the narrative in the best possible way, to remind me that this was not just a well told story. This was REAL. Two in particular were her remembrances of Y2K and 9.11. Tara and I were born two months apart in the same year, so hearing how divergent our interaction with those events was really drove home how unique her upbringing was.


In “Educated”, you will definitely find heartbreak and pain. It is at the core of her narrative. But you will also find a victory that is so unbelievable it will have you cheering for the little girl, now woman, who could have given up but didn’t. I could throw around a lot of words: shocking, inspiring, powerful. They would all be true of this book.  


Please note that Random House has provided me with a complimentary advanced copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.