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Publisher's Summary

Number one New York Times, Wall Street Journal, and Boston Globe best seller
Washington Post and USA Today best seller
Long-listed for the Carnegie Medal of Excellence
President Barack Obama's 2018 summer reading
One of Time's Best Memoirs of 2018 So Far
One of Publishers Weekly's Ten Best Books of the Year
PBS Newshour/New York Times Book of the Month

An unforgettable memoir about a young girl who, kept out of school, leaves her survivalist family and goes on to earn a PhD from Cambridge University 

"Beautiful and propulsive... Despite the singularity of [Tara Westover's] childhood, the questions her book poses are universal: How much of ourselves should we give to those we love? And how much must we betray them to grow up?" (Vogue)

Born to survivalists in the mountains of Idaho, Tara Westover was 17 the first time she set foot in a classroom. Her 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 one of Tara's older brothers became violent. When another brother got himself into college, Tara decided to try a new kind of life. 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.

©2018 Tara Westover (P)2018 Random House Audio

Critic Reviews

"Powerful, moving, brave, naked, and completely at home in its form, Tara Westover's Educated gives us homegrown American originals, who find their Mormon congregation too conventional, and raise their children on a western mountain, refusing them birth certificates and not allowing them to attend school. This is a daughter's story of how she grew into herself and comes to understand her home. This book would be far less harrowing if it were a novel." (Mona Simpson, author of Casebook and Anywhere But Here)
"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)

"Narrator Julia Whelan's performance is outstanding. She expresses author Tara Westover's naïve trust in her father's conviction that the world will end at Y2K; incredulity at the constant freak accidents of children being gashed, set on fire, or concussed while working in a junkyard (God will protect); and mortification at discovering her ignorance of the Holocaust and Martin Luther King in her freshman year at Brigham Young University. Whelan conducts a master class in the fear, dread, and self-doubt wrought by domestic violence as Westover recounts her older brother's terrorizing all while spewing religious righteousness." (AudioFile)  

What members say

Average Customer Ratings

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Exceptional

This book is incredible. Tara's resilience is inspiring. Her honesty, grace, and perseverance through trials that would have broken most people left me in awe. I could not stop listening to this book and found every opportunity to turn on audible to keep hearing her story.

46 of 48 people found this review helpful

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  • Darwin8u
  • Mesa, AZ, United States
  • 03-28-18

The Other Side of Idaho's Mountains

"Not knowing for certain, but refusing to give way to those who claim certainty, was a privilege I had never allowed myself. My life was narrated for me by others. Their voices were forceful, emphatic, absolute. It had never occurred to me that my voice might be as strong as theirs."
- Tara Westover, Educated: A Memoir

This book feels like it was written by a sister, a cousin, a niece. Tara Westover grew up a few mountains over from my dad's Heglar ranch. I don't know her. Don't know her family. She grew up about 70-80+ miles South East as the crow flies, but realistically, it was a 1.5 hours drive difference, and a whole planet of Mormonism over.

I didn't grow up in Idaho. I was born there and returned there yearly. But this book is filled with the geography, culture, behaviors, mountains, religion, schools, and extremes I understand. She is writing from a similar, and often shared space. I didn't just read this book, I felt it, on every page.

This book reads like a modern-day, Horatio Alger + 'The Education of Henry Adams: An Autobiography'. However, it isn't just a book about how a girl with little formal education from a small town in Idaho makes it to Cambridge. It is also a tale of escape, and a historiography. Westover is using her own life to do a popular memory study on herself. She is looking at how she viewed her religion, her background, her parents, and her education. She explores how those memories and narratives change and reorient based upon proximity to her family and her father.

I bought a copy and before I even read it, I gave it to my father to read (He grew up in Heglar, ID). Then I bought another couple and yesterday and today my wife and I raced to finish it. We bored our kids talking about it over two dinners. We both finished it within minutes of each other tonight.

Tara Westover's memoir hit me hard because of the struggle she has owning her own narrative. Through many vectors I related to her (we both graduated from BYU with Honors, were both were from Idaho, both have preppers in the family). My family, while sharing similar land, a similar start, and a similar undergraduate education, however, are not Tara's. And that is what made this memoir so compelling. It was like reading a Dickens novel, but one that was set in your neighborhood. It was moving, sad, and tremendous. In the end, I was attracted by how close the story felt, but I was also VERY grateful her story wasn't THAT close.

180 of 192 people found this review helpful

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Disturbing

There are parts of this book that will haunt me: Animal cruelty, physical and mental abuse. However, the problems are all too prevalent. I weep and pray for the characters. I need a pick-me-up after this one.

55 of 60 people found this review helpful

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Couldn't stop listening!

I finished this book in two days flat. Tara's writing transports you into the story completely. Her vulnerability and downright astonishing history of her life is unforgettable. I recommend this book for anyone struggling in relationships dominated with control and abuse. Her bravery is catching.

58 of 64 people found this review helpful

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What an education!

This is my first full review. I laughed, I cried real tears, and I got very angry.

Tara: if you read this know that I am rooting for you! No child should ever go through what you have endured! I am so proud of you for learning it is not your fault.

For the reader: I have just sent the last hours captivated by this story. I’ve read a number of books about ex Mormons - mostly people who escaped polygamists. As a recovering catholic I rebel against any and all religions that force people to leave their families because their beliefs are incompatible. But this is more than Mormonism, it is about an extreme uneducated bipolar man, his violent bipolar son, a submissive mother and an intelligent woman’s recovery.

It is quite shocking to discover how people live and the courage it takes to escape. I found it interesting that the three who escaped have PhDs and the four who remain don’t even have. GED. Thinking broadly, in every country, and all societies, the importance of a good education remains the key to independence.

53 of 60 people found this review helpful

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A little frustrating

This story left me feeling a little lost. I didn’t feel any sense of justice for all the wrongs perpetrated on this family in the name of god, and although I’m aware that’s often the case in real life I was really hoping for something more here. Julia Whelan, as always, was wonderful. If you’re looking for a book in this genre, please try The Great Alone, written by Kristin Hannah, also narrated by JW. Similar storyline.

5 of 5 people found this review helpful

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Gripping Read


There is no doubting that Tara Westover's survival and achievement is nothing short of an amazing feat and she is to be applauded for her strength and determination. You don't have to read between the lines to know very early in this book that this young girl (the author) is being neglected and abused on many levels, in the home of seemingly well-intentioned, loving parents. It creeps in and feels as blatantly incongruent and ugly as a blot on a peaceful bucolic scene. All the more insidious as a wide range of mental disorders throughout the family become obvious and are dismissed and justified -- denial.

I've had to sit back and reflect on this book and the author, as well as allow myself to read the reviews of other readers in order to be objective with Educated. True, it is a story of a miraculous survival and achievement by the author. It is also a sad account, to add to hundreds of accounts we've had to hear, about the destructive effects of abuse and mental illness. I've mentioned before in my reviews I worked with patients that sadly have had very similar stories and they are all heartbreaking so it is nice to read that Ms. Westover is on top of her ordeal. Healing and recovery is a challenging process and I felt Westover, at times, compartmentalized her experiences, speaking from the authority of her academic status.

Her voice in this narrative seems to waiver a bit between assuredness and doubt, which is natural for a recovering person. I could not help wondering -- which is why I waited to read other's reviews to see if I was being too clinical -- if this story was premature in that it felt like the road still reaches out far in front of her journey. It is my hope that in telling her story, feeling the support of readers that themselves gain strength from her fight and acknowledge her accomplishment, Ms. Westover can continue her fight with courage and grace.

*In spite of its capacity to foster compassion, humanness, and understanding, throughout the ages religion has at times been a source of abuse, persecution, terrorism, and genocide. These problems continue today across the world, as illustrated by religiously-based terrorism, clergy sexual abuse, and religiously-supported genocide.* Ms. Westover makes the distinction that her family is Fundamentalist Mormons, which are sects that have separated themselves from the LDS Church. This is a very interesting time in the world culture, and I suspect that by giving voice to abuse on so many different levels, Ms. Westover has added her voice to a brave force that is demanding long needed positive change in all areas where there has been abuse.

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119 of 139 people found this review helpful

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I highly recommend this book!

Did you have an extreme reaction to this book? Did it make you laugh or cry?

I just finished listening to Educated. Parts of the book left my crying. I grew up in the same high-demand religion. While my family was not as fundamentalist, isolated or controlling, the similarities were there. As a gay man, I didn’t fit in and had to make my break from the culture and set up appropriate boundaries with family. I also had to develop my family and friends of choice.

Any additional comments?

Tara tells the story of fundamentalism, patriarchy and an apocalyptic view of the world intertwined with bi-polar mental illness. The story is inspiring but shows how hard it is to separate yourself from the world view of your childhood and family. She overcame some very limiting views of how the world works.

57 of 67 people found this review helpful

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  • Katie
  • Geneva, Switzerland
  • 05-28-18

Extreme patriarchy, brainwashing, and violence

This is not really a book about homeschooling or mormons. It's about growing up and out of an extremely patriarchal, violent, and dysfunctional family. It's about the slow process and journey that one takes when leaving an abusive relationship, questioning yourself every step of the way but slowly finding independence. Tara was luckily able to gain her independence through her extensive college education.
This is a really difficult book and may be triggering for some. I felt a number of strong and unpleasant emotions (anger, fear, sadness) while listening to this, but I couldn't put it down. Horrific as it is, I'm really glad that Tara Westover had the courage to publish this. The book kind of has an open ending, you know that the family dysfunction and drama is still continuing, and you wonder how much distance Tara Westover will be able to keep from her family over time, if she will continue to return, yearning for the acceptance of her parents.

The narrator was a perfect match.

18 of 21 people found this review helpful

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Harrowing but not revelatory

The author's accomplishments are inspiring in light of all that she was up against. The accounts of her upbringing are eye-opening - often difficult to imagine. However, the telling felt more like a news report than a story. What was learned? How did the author change? What should I, as the reader, take away from this book? I left saddened by the terrible trials the author had been through but wanting some greater insight. How do we keep what happened to Westover from happening to other young people? In finishing the book, I felt saddened and unfullfilled. While I wanted to recommend the book as an example of the persistence or resolve of the human spirit, I felt the scope of empathy was too narrowly cast on the author with too little compassion for other who might be facing similar odds and too lazy to offer solutions or hope for addressing similar situations.

8 of 9 people found this review helpful

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  • HayleyHead
  • 10-19-18

Hearbreaking, Inspiring and Courageous

So so interesting, heart breaking, inspiring and courageous. A must 'read' for all genre lovers