Written on: January 31, 2019
Education has been a hallmark of the Grey Nuns of the Sacred Heart in the many years of the congregation’s mission journey. In Educated, a memoir by 32 year-old Tara Westover, the power of education is a central theme and catalyst for personal transformation. Readers journey with Westover from her hardscrabble childhood laboring in her father’s scrapyard to her adult success as a Ph.D. in history at Cambridge University.
Westover was raised as a child of anti-government Mormon survivalists who viewed schools, doctors and hospitals as agents of a secular system they mistrusted and despised. The family lived in isolation on a mountain in Idaho and any education the family’s seven children received, they sought by their own efforts.
Westover’s tale chronicles her physical abuse at the hands of her brother, her ignorance of basic history (in college, she doesn’t understand a professor’s reference to the Holocaust), her struggles to catch up academically, her difficulty—even as an educated adult—to deal with her dysfunctional family and her eventual decision to break ties with them in order to heal and thrive.
Some may question the writing of a memoir by a 32 year-old (if that is indeed her age—she has no birth certificate). Westover says that, at some point in her struggle, she realized, “…how important stories are in telling us how to live, how we should feel , when we should feel proud and when we should feel ashamed.”
Educated is a glowing testimony not just to the transformative power of education but to the unstoppable force of a human spirit with a burning desire to learn and to grow.
Submitted by: Eileen Dickerson