Beautiful prose, bewitching memoir.
Educated chronicles one woman’s true, yet fantastical, story of growing up as the sheltered daughter of survivalist religious zealots. Exploring themes of familial conflict, abuse and the role of education, in this memoir, Westover documents the path she took from being a home-schooled child without any formal education, to studying at some of the greatest institutions of Western higher education, including Harvard and Cambridge.
Westover’s story is difficult to read: by her own account, she is the victim of emotional and physical abuse and negligence at the hands of her own family. Yet, the story is compelling because of her vulnerability. If at times, Westover’s memories of events seem embellished for the sake of producing a compelling narrative, the raw emotions and internal conflict that she expresses engages the reader. As the book progresses, Westover graduates from being ignorant of the world around her and other narratives (to the extent where at the age of 17, the word Holocaust holds no meaning to her), to learning as historian to grapple with different truths and wrest meaning from texts. Without preaching, this memoir relays the importance of education to providing freedom of thought and independence.