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Educated

By: Tara Westover

Publisher: Random House Publishing Group

Imprint: Random House

Format: Hardcover | ISBN: 9780399590504

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On Sale: | Pages: 352

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An unforgettable memoir in the tradition of The Glass Castle about a young girl who, kept out of school, leaves her survivalist family and goes on to earn a PhD from Cambridge UniversityTara Westover was seventeen the first time she set foot in a classroom. Born to survivalists in the mountains of Idaho, she prepared for the end of the world by stockpiling home-canned peaches and sleeping with her “head-for-the-hills” bag. In the summer she stewed herbs for her mother, a midwife and healer, and in the winter she salvaged metal in her father’s junkyard.                   Her father distrusted the medical establishment, so Tara never saw a doctor or nurse. Gashes and concussions, even burns from explosions, were all treated at home with herbalism. The family was so isolated from mainstream society that there was no one to ensure the children received an education, and no one to intervene when an older brother became violent.                   When another brother got himself into college and came back with news of the world beyond the mountain, Tara decided to try a new kind of life. She taught herself enough mathematics, grammar, and science to take the ACT and was admitted to Brigham Young University. There, she studied psychology, politics, philosophy, and history, learning for the first time about pivotal world events like the Holocaust and the Civil Rights Movement. Her quest for knowledge transformed her, taking her over oceans and across continents, to Harvard and to Cambridge University. Only then would she wonder if she’d traveled too far, if there was still a way home.                   Educated is an account of the struggle for self-invention. It is a tale of fierce family loyalty, and of the grief that comes from severing ties with those closest to you. With the acute insight that distinguishes all great writers, Westover has crafted a universal coming-of-age story that gets to the heart of what an education is and what it offers: the perspective to see one’s life through new eyes, and the will to change it.“A punch to the gut, a slow burn, a savage indictment, a love letter: Educated somehow contrives to be all these things at once. Tara Westover guides us through the extraordinary western landscape of her coming of age and in clear, tender prose makes us feel what she felt growing up among fanatics.”—Claire Dederer, author of Love and Trouble
...[a] searing memoir... Memoirists like Mary Karr and Tobias Wolff famously used humor to chronicle brutal childhoods, but Westover describes lethal injuries, near-fatal car accidents and familial abuse with simple, matter-of-fact sentences. Her style tends to flatten out the usual highs and lows, pitching every event in “Educated” at the same volume. Yet the unadorned approach also lays bare moments of enormous pathos...
—Seattle Times
The extremity of Westover's upbringing emerges gradually through her telling, which only makes the telling more alluring and harrowing.... Westover has somehow managed not only to capture her unsurpassably exceptional upbringing, but to make her current situation seem not so exceptional at all, and resonant for many others. She is but yet another young person who left home for an education, now views the family she left across an uncomprehending ideological canyon, and isn't going back.
—New York Times
The memoir is divided into three parts — childhood, college and present-day. The most powerful section is the first, which Westover writes from the point of view of herself as a girl. She recounts her bizarre life dispassionately, as though it was perfectly ordinary, and it is that sense of normality that gives this section its power.... It is the third section that is the most difficult to read — the least polished, the most painful, perhaps because it is the most recent. It lacks distance, both temporal and emotional.... [T]he rawness of this last section suggests that despite her amazing transformation and this powerful book, Westover's remarkable education is not yet complete.
—Minneapolis Star Tribune
Whether narrating scenes of fury and violence or evoking rural landscapes or tortured self-analysis, Westover writes with uncommon intelligence and grace. “Educated” recounts one of the most improbable and fascinating journeys I've read in recent years.
—Newsday
Westover's writing style is straightforward, even as she recounts heart-wrenching details and abusive events. Her quest for autonomy, learning, understanding and acceptance can break your heart, even as it has you cheering for her empowerment. EDUCATED is a terrific, if harrowing, read.
—Bookreporter.com
...a heartbreaking, heartwarming, best-in-years memoir about striding beyond the limitations of birth and environment into a better life.... [E]ven when presenting the rough parts, Westover, now 31, doesn't wail. She writes about it as she processed it when she was growing up insulated: in a straightforward manner. It wasn't until she reached her teen years that she began to realize not everyone lived this way.
—USA Today
The power to leave her warped family of origin and move forward into her own adult life: This is the education of Ms. Westover's title. Which was something of a letdown to me, the reader. I don't mean to minimize the distance Ms. Westover has traveled. But other children of paranoid conspiracists, not to mention children of alcoholics and children of bipolar parents, have also managed to emerge from the toxic fantasy. On the other hand, almost no one encounters formal education for the first time at 18 and immediately becomes a scholar. Ms. Westover doesn't seem to have any sense of how remarkable that journey is.... Without ever meaning to, “Educated” suggests something startling: Our children's intellectual achievement may have almost nothing to do with the opportunities we provide them, and everything to do with some inborn drive that we can neither influence nor create.
—Wall Street Journal
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