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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
Born to survivalists in the mountains of Idaho, Tara Westover was seventeen 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.
“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
“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.”—The New York Times Book Review
About the Author
Read an Excerpt
Excerpted from "Educated"
Copyright © 2018 Tara Westover.
Excerpted by permission of Diversified Publishing.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
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Table of Contents
Author's Note xi
1 Choose the Good 3
2 The Midwife 13
3 Cream Shoes 24
4 Apache Women 31
5 Honest Dirt 41
6 Shield and Buckler 54
7 The Lord Will Provide 67
8 Tiny Harlots 76
9 Perfect in his Generations 84
10 Shield of Feathers 92
11 Instinct 98
12 Fish Eyes 104
13 Silence in the Churches 112
14 My Feet No Longer Touch Earth 122
15 No More a Child 132
16 Disloyal Man, Disobedient Heaven 142
17 To Keep it Holy 153
18 Blood and Feathers 160
19 In the Beginning 167
20 Recitals of the Fathers 174
21 Skullcap 182
22 What We Whispered and What We Screamed 187
23 I'm From Idaho 198
24 A Knight, Errant 207
25 The Work of Sulphur 216
26 Waiting for Moving Water 223
27 If I Were a Woman 228
28 Pygmalion 235
29 Graduation 244
30 Hand of the Almighty 255
31 Tragedy then Farce 265
32 A Brawling Woman in a Wide House 274
33 Sorcery of Physics 279
34 The Substance of Things 284
35 West of the Sun 290
36 Four Long Arms, Whirling 297
37 Gambling For Redemption 306
38 Family 314
39 Watching the Buffalo 320
40 Educated 327
A Note on the Text 333
Reading Group Guide
1. Many of Tara’s father’s choices have an obvious impact on Tara’s life, but how did her mother’s choices influence her? How did that change over time?
2. Tara’s brother Tyler tells her to take the ACT. What motivates Tara to follow his advice?
3. Charles was Tara’s first window into the outside world. Under his influence, Tara begins to dress differently and takes medicine for the first time. Discuss Tara’s conflicting admiration for both Charles and her father.
4. Tara has titled her book Educated and much of her education takes place in classrooms, lectures, or other university environments. But not all. What other important moments of “education” were there? What friends, acquaintances, or experiences had the most impact on Tara? What does that imply about what an education is?
5. Eventually, Tara confronts her family about her brother’s abuse. How do different the members of her family respond?
6. What keeps Tara coming back to her family as an adult?
7. Ultimately, what type of freedom did education give Tara?
8. Tara wrote this at the age of thirty, while in the midst of her healing process. Why do you think she chose to write it so young, and how does this distinguish the book from similar memoirs?
9. Tara paid a high price for her education: she lost her family. Do you think she would make the same choice again?