Written by Tara Westover
Publisher: Random House
Genre: Nonfiction, Memoir
Original Language: English
Read from 2019-07-06 to 2019-07-16
Read in English
Review: From what I’d heard about it I knew that I would enjoy Educated, but I wasn’t prepared for how hard this book would hit me.
The story told is truly fascinating. It’s a remarkable tale, incredibly told. It’s intimate, informative, and provides a glance into a world which, while I would have assumed that it existed, knew absolutely nothing about. Reading the book I felt curious, frustrated, sad, angry, uncomfortable, and confused. It felt almost voyeuristic - I was looking into, and felt like I was experiencing, the life of someone else. Only now do I realise, after having finished the book, how essential it was for this story to be told in exactly this way.
Because, while the story really is about a childhood which would be completely unrelatable to most people, and about a way of living and thinking that may seem alien, it can’t be said to be surprising. It has elements in it which is the kind of story that might get a three-minute mention on the news, and maybe occupy ten seconds of “ah well, there are crazy people everywhere”-mindspace, and then be forgotten. There is a way this story could have been told in which it would have felt almost like a documentary - with the same content, but in a way where one would have felt like one was looking in at the events through a glass, observing strange animals in a zoo. While a book like that might have been interesting, this book goes far beyond what is happening, and really digs into how it affects the people involved in it. It does this incredibly powerfully. Where it might otherwise have been easy to just see what was happening as something strange happening to strange people, this book doesn’t allow for that - it forces you to confront the uncomfortable truth that these are regular people who just happen to be in an uncommon situation. What they feel is real, and their reasons for feeling and doing what might seem absurd becomes less absurd where it is presented in a way where it’s far from clear what you would have done in the same situation.
The story also feels unique in that the author is able to compare and contrast her previous life with something that was radically different. There are certainly quite a few people with similar stories to tell, probably even quite a few people who could tell their stories very eloquently, but the lived experience of this author, not only with the experiences that would seem remarkable to most of the readers, but also the lived experience of what most would consider to be normal, allows this story to be told in a way which feels painfully relatable, despite how strange it really is.
Educated was a brilliant, visceral, captivating read, but it was also, in the best way possible, an education.