Just Read: Educated by Tara Westover (Audiobook Review) @tarawestover @randomhouse

Educated Audiobook Review On Novels And Nonfiction

Educated is one of those memoirs that is able to bridge the gap into nonfiction for people who typically only read fiction. As for other memoirs, the personal nature of the story is what makes it more accessible to those who don’t normally delve into nonfiction. Westover’s memoir in particular, however, is so unbelievable in its extremity that it often actually reads like fiction.

That is why there has been so much buzz about this title in the book blogging world – it really crosses the lines between genres in a way that makes it universally appealing. It’s sort of the ultimate redemption story. I listened to the audiobook version and found it a very powerful delivery, though a few times I found myself mouth-agape in my car, in disbelief at what I was listening to. Find out more of my thoughts on the memoir in my full review.

LineEducated Book Review On Novels And Nonfiction

Educated by Tara Westover

Publication Date: February 20th 2018
Publisher: Random House
Length In Hardcover: 334 pages
Goodreads Rating: 4.49


Plot Teaser ImageAn unforgettable memoir in which a young girl, kept out of school, leaves her survivalist family and goes on to earn a PhD from Cambridge University

Educated is an account of the struggle for self-invention. It is a tale of fierce family loyalty and of the grief that comes with severing the closest of ties. With the acute insight that distinguishes all great writers, Westover has crafted a universal coming-of-age story that gets to the heart of what an education is and what it offers: the perspective to see one’s life through new eyes and the will to change it.What I Liked (1)Learning about Westover’s upbringing. As horrifying as reading about parts of Westover’s childhood was, it built the foundation through which the incredible nature of her transformation becomes apparent. To call Westover’s life as a child and teenager in Buck’s Peak spartan would be an understatement. She was kept away by her fundamentalist and survivalist parents from an actual education, proper medical care, and a normal social life, and even forced to work in dangerous conditions for her father while still a child. The negligence of her parents in her upbringing and their lack of concern for the mental and physical well-being of their children is difficult but necessary to read about.

Seeing her transformation. Westover’s detachment from her family and her road to a healthier life for herself don’t happen from one day to the next. From a trickle of realization that starts with her elder brother leaving the family to attend college, Westover slowly recognizes that the lifestyle she’s being subjected to by her parents isn’t normal. Her road to believing in her own capabilities and figuring out how to pursue an education for herself is fraught to say the least. I kept feeling so frustrated at all the setbacks she experienced and all the times in which her family were able to draw her back into their orbit. It was equally rewarding, however, to see Westover slowly meld into normality, figuring out how to study properly or letting go over her fear of male attention.

Very well-written. The quality of the writing in this memoir is of the same caliber as that of a seasoned nonfiction author. Somehow, with no access to formal (or informal) education until her late teenage years, Westover incredibly not only graduated magna cum laude from BHU, not only obtained a PHD from Cambridge, but also taught herself how to be a gifted author. I read an interview in which she described listening to the New Yorker’s Fiction podcast to figure out what great writing was all about. Well, I can say it’s worked. Westover’s descriptive powers are beautiful whether she’s writing about the mountain on which she grew up, the hallowed walls of Cambridge, or her emotions. Her writing is truly inspiring and, while listening to the audiobook of Educated, I was hanging from every word.

What I Didn't Like ImageFrustrating level of compassion. This may have been my single greatest frustration with this memoir, and in some ways I don’t think it’s justified because I don’t really have a right to judge Westover for her reactions to an upbringing I can barely imagine. I found myself almost annoyed over and over, however, at how forgiving and understanding Westover was towards those in her family who hurt her (time and time again). It was also moving, don’t get me wrong, to see her show so much compassion where it was least deserved. However, it was troubling to see Westover still trying to reconnect with her family towards the end of the memoir.

Final Verdict Image

4 Rabbits Rating On Novels And Nonfiction

An incredible story of resilience and excellence in the face of nearly insurmountable odds, that will make you think about the meaning of family, the importance of education, and the strength of the human spirit.

About The Author

Tara Westover Author Image On Novels And Nonfiction

Tara Westover is an American author. Born in Idaho to a father opposed to public education, she never attended school. She spent her days working in her father’s junkyard or stewing herbs for her mother, a self-taught herbalist and midwife. She was seventeen the first time she set foot in a classroom. After that first encounter with education, she pursued learning for a decade, graduating magna cum laude from Brigham Young University in 2008 and subsequently winning a Gates Cambridge Scholarship. She earned an MPhil from Trinity College, Cambridge in 2009, and in 2010 was a visiting fellow at Harvard University. She returned to Cambridge, where she was awarded a PhD in history in 2014. Educated is her first book.

Line ImageHave you read Educated? What did you think? If not would you be interested in reading it? Let me know in the comments.

If you’d like to keep up to date with posts on Novels And Nonfiction, make sure to follow me on WordPress, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram or Pinterest.

You can also read my other recent Just Read reviews, including for the biography of Leonardo da Vinci by Walter Isaacson, historical mystery Call Of The Curlew by Elizabeth Brooks, true crime title A False Report by T. Christian Miller and Ken Armstrong, contemporary fiction novel The Wangs Vs. The World by Jade Chang and historical fiction title The Immortalists By Chloe Benjamin.

Please note this post contains affiliate links from Book Depository.

  19 comments for “Just Read: Educated by Tara Westover (Audiobook Review) @tarawestover @randomhouse

  1. September 15, 2018 at 1:51 pm

    I just picked this up from the library yesterday! I’m expecting this to be an emotional read for me, since I have a lot in common with the author. Homeschooled, brought up very conservative, estranged from my family as I educated myself, etc. My history isn’t as extreme as hers, but still. Expecting a lot of emotions.

    Liked by 1 person

    • September 15, 2018 at 5:01 pm

      Oh wow! Yeah it’ll probably connect with you in completely different ways than it did me. I hope you find it a worthwhile read!

      Liked by 1 person

      • September 21, 2018 at 6:42 pm

        Decided to come back now that I’ve read it – oooof. There were parts that made my breath catch in my throat because she described exactly some of the feelings I had felt. My family was definitely not as messed up as hers, but curing your own self-doubt, at the cost of a relationship with your family, through educating yourself – yeah, THAT I identified with pretty damn hard. I’ll have a full review up on my blog when I can summon the clarity to write it, but – dang. Definitely one of the best books I’ve read this year.

        Liked by 1 person

      • September 22, 2018 at 5:37 pm

        I can’t wait to read your review since you had such a personal experience with the book!

        Liked by 1 person

  2. Susie | Novel Visits
    September 15, 2018 at 4:01 pm

    Glad you liked this so much! I read Educated and had much the same thoughts as you on it. I’m curious about the audio. Did Westover read it herself. In any case, I bet this was a great memoir to listen to.

    Liked by 1 person

    • September 15, 2018 at 5:00 pm

      Hey Susie! No she didn’t read the audiobook herself. The narration was good – just a straightforward one which makes sense for this kind of memoir. I think it was more the story itself that made it a great audiobook listen!


  3. September 15, 2018 at 10:34 pm

    Sounds like the author has done really well in life, considering the weird and restrictive upbringing she had. I’ve kind of been taking education for granted…

    Liked by 1 person

    • September 20, 2018 at 5:09 pm

      Yes her life story is truly inspiring. It did make me think about how lucky I am to have had a more traditional educational path and all the support I had from my family in pursuing higher level degrees.

      Liked by 1 person

      • September 20, 2018 at 5:14 pm

        Definitely, people who have fought against the odds to get where they want to be, really deserve success!

        Liked by 1 person

  4. September 16, 2018 at 4:24 am

    I have this one sitting on my TBR shelf and keep mean to read it. Thanks to your review, I’ll move it up my list.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. September 16, 2018 at 7:38 pm

    Love this book! Am listening to the audio version and will probably finish it tomorrow. Fabulous review! 🤗

    Liked by 1 person

    • September 20, 2018 at 5:08 pm

      The audiobook was a great way of experiencing the book because Westover’s writing is to impactful and beautiful 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  6. September 24, 2018 at 7:08 pm

    I’ve read everything I can find on isolationist homeschoolers. This book was not as surprising to me due to that. Plus there are states that look the other way on things like this or extreme unofficial Mormon polygamous families–who live hand-to-mouth many times. But I was cheering her on throughout the book. I, too, sort of wanted her to just walk away, but they are her family. My kids were abandoned by their birth Mom. It sucks. As unhealthy as her family is they may be an essential element of her mental health. She can see how far she’s come but that they are still there even if they don’t welcome her. Like the Glass Castle, there were so many places were CPS and similar should have gotten involved. I’m never sure in this story if that would have helped or hurt her in spite of the strange life her family led.

    Liked by 1 person

    • September 25, 2018 at 6:42 pm

      I totally agree with you. It must have been incredibly tough for her to be able to detach from them, and I know my feelings of frustration were just coming from being an outsider to the situation. Actually living it is a whole other thing!

      Liked by 1 person

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