Sunday, May 5, 2019


This book is the last of those that I considered special published in 2018.

Educated by Tara Westover is a memoir unlike any you or I could possibly imagine.  Tara lived in a family of survivalist Mormons in an isolated village in the mountains of Idaho. This book is not about Mormons, but the story of a dysfunctional family. Tara was the youngest in a family of seven and the only daughter. She had no birth certificate, had never seen a doctor or the inside of a school. Her father, with a bi-polar personality, believed that the world would soon come to an end, and he accumulated stores of food, fuel, guns and ammunition against that day. He also suspected the federal government could attack him at any time. He believed that his decisions and the often-disastrous outcomes were ordained by God. He made his living with an unlicensed junkyard where he, with several of his sons, collected discarded vehicles and converted them into saleable junk. Tara’s mother was an uncertified mid-wife and self-styled herbalist who sometimes tutored Tara. When Tara was five, her father demanded that she work in his junkyard where she underwent brutality from her father and one of her brothers. Another brother left home and went to college, encouraging her to do the same. When Tara was 16, she applied for admission to Brigham Young University in Salt Lake City against her father’s wishes.  She passed a test and was admitted with financial aid from the Bishop. She was shocked by the “immodesty” and behavior of her mostly Mormon classmates. Tara had a strong desire to succeed, and despite her lack of previous schooling, did well and graduated. She won a scholarship to Cambridge University, later to Harvard University, then back to Cambridge, and after many years earned a Ph.D. in Philosophy.  During these years her survivalist beliefs were gradually replaced by the realities of the world.  Tara returned to Idaho many times where she suffered tremendous conflict, vacillating between her realistic learning and the family fundamentalist beliefs.

The story of her academic achievement and the tortuous conflict she endured make fascinating reading and may provoke intellectual discussion.