In this book review of Educated by Tara Westover, we explore the idea of questioning your truths. What if everything that you knew to be true, was a warped version of reality? That there was an entire world out there, of possibility and prosperity, that you didn’t even know you had access to? It sounds like science-fiction, but for one girl, it was real life. But was it just her? Could we have been living our lives in the same way, without even realizing it?
This book was not what I thought it was going to be. Most of what I read are books recommended to me through podcasts or articles, which means I usually have a pretty good idea of the contents and often, the outcome before I start. It’s very rare that I read something that surprises me in the way that this book did.
I saw that many people had it on their to-read lists. I actually had it on my to-read list, although I had no recollection of who recommended it to me or what it was about. To me, the title was compelling because I love education! I imagined that it might be a sweet story of a teacher who impacted a student or something along those lines.
From to-read, to can’t-put-down
It wasn’t until I read the first chapter that I recalled my friend Quincy telling me about a memoir she had just finished. It was written by a girl who grew up in a radically religious home, where she lived sheltered from society and spent most of her childhood working in her father’s junkyard. Begrudgingly, I added it to the to-read list that I keep in my phone because I respect Quincy’s opinion. But in the back of my mind was thinking, “this story sounds completely depressing and something that I would have no interest in.”
And somehow, here I was, somewhat accidentally reading it. And getting more and more drawn into this truly compelling story. I spent the first half of the book in disbelief that this girl grew up at the same time and in the same country as I did. Surely, a twist had to be coming. That this story had all taken place in her imagination. Or that it was some elaborate hoax to draw you in before she pulled the rug out from under you.
The realization of what Educated was really about
No such reveal came, but my horror turned to awe when it took a turn and the significance of this story became apparent to me. Educated is labeled as a memoir but it really is a personal development story. Although Tara Westover, the author, lived a life that was vastly different than mine, I found that as I flipped through those pages that I began seeing myself and even parts of my childhood in her story.
Without completely ruining the book, Tara is eventually able to somewhat escape this life. She is introduced to a whole new world that she was unaware of. It had been out there the entire time, while she was stuck in her reality. And I think that all of us have experienced this on some sort of level.
For me, it happened when my husband and I moved away from our hometowns in NY. When we began a new chapter of our lives here in Florida, we were suddenly removed from everyone and everything that we knew. I was forced to look inward, to make more decisions on my own, and to learn about who I really was. Not the version of me who was so heavily influenced by the place where I had come from and the people I had been surrounded by my entire life.
The biggest takeaway in my review of Educated
There is not a single person on this earth who has not been influenced by someone or something. Educated encourages you to seek your truths. Not the truths that other people have bestowed upon you. There is a whole world of experiences available for us to enjoy, yet many of us are shut off to those possibilities because we haven’t allowed ourselves to step through the looking glass and experience what’s on the other side.
Tara Westover’s inspiring transformation
This book is so richly written and I couldn’t help asking myself the same question, over and over at the beginning of the story. How was this girl, with no formal education, (hardly any education period,) able to write something that was so beautiful? It’s that point alone that speaks to the things that you have inside of you that you are unaware of. Tara Westover never saw herself as somebody who was, as the title says, “educated,” yet she was able to produce this gorgeous story and tell it in such a profound way.
If this post has inspired you to question your truths so that you can craft the happiest life possible, leave a comment below!
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