CHECK IT OUT: 'Educated' shares author’s path to resiliency

"Educated" by Tara Westover is a memoir of growing up among Mormon survivalists and struggling for independence.

Mary Niklaus (right) reviews "Educated" by Tara Westover (Random House Publishing Group, 2018). Contributed photo / Mary Niklaus

Tara Westover was born in the late 1980s in the mountains of Idaho. She has no birth certificate, as her parents were Mormon “survivalists” who did not believe in governmental regulations or laws.

In fact, Westover describes her father as paranoid, extreme and believing he had prophetic powers. These beliefs led to Westover and her siblings growing up with no formal education, no access to mainstream healthcare and a home life of hard work, tough discipline and fear of her father’s temper and radical beliefs.

Throughout her autobiography, “Educated,” Westover describes her childhood with vivid and emotional depth. You learn about her work in the family scrapyard, their disturbing family trips to see relatives and serious family injuries that led to disabilities because of the use of only home remedies to heal.

As time passes, Westover’s siblings leave home to discover a new life. She too finds herself longing for a more formal education and it leads to rebellion and conflict in the family. Tough decisions and conflict occur as Westover balances her connections to her family over her yearning for a different life.

“Educated” is truly a remarkable story of extreme American life and a path to resiliency and self-discovery. Westover’s accounts of her life are sometimes sad, at times humorous and always honest. You see her raw fight for a different life, while still the pull of family love brings her back to the mountains of Idaho.


In this memoir, Westover has overcome so much to finally accomplish more than most of us would ever dream. If you are someone who likes true stories and loves biographies, “Educated” is an outstanding choice for you.

Mary Niklaus is a library assistant in charge of nonfiction at the Park Rapids Area Library. A retired school principal, she lives in the Menahga area.

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