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Tara Westover on Turning Her Off-the-Grid Life Into a Remarkable Memoir

"Despite the singularity of her 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?" — Hadley Freeman

Photo: Hill and Aubrey for Vogue


Inside the List: Spinning an Off-the-Grid Childhood into a Gripping Memoir

"I was losing my family, and it seemed to me that there were no stories for that — no stories about what to do when loyalty to your family was somehow in conflict with loyalty to yourself. I wanted a story that didn't conflate forgiveness with reconciliation, or treat reconciliation as the highest form of forgiveness. In my life, I knew the two might always be separate. I didn’t know if I would ever reconcile with my family, and I needed to believe that I could forgive, regardless."

Photo: Paul Stuart

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The [Woman] Who Didn’t Go to School (But Now Has a Cambridge PhD) by Louise Carpenter

"Getting an education had changed me. I couldn’t go forward, because my parents couldn’t go forward with me, and I couldn’t go back, because that person didn’t exist any more."

Photo: Jude Edginton for The Times Magazine

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Q&A with Lisa O'Kelly

"I miss them every day, but I stand by my decision not to have them in my life."

Photo: Antonio Almos for the Observer New Review 


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"You can miss someone every day, and still be glad they're not in your life." Interview by Catherine Conroy

"Anger comes from the self-preservation instinct. It's a mechanism the brain uses to get you away from situations or people who might harm you. But once you’re away, once you’re safe, it’s possible to let go of that anger. To live a better life without it.”

Photo: Paul Stuart


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Interview by Caroline Sanderson

"An education isn't about making a living; it's about making a person."

Photo: Paul Stuart



New York Times Book Review





She Didn’t Own a Birth Certificate or Go to School. Yet She Went On to Earn a Ph.D.

"It is only when the final, wrenching break from most of her family arrives that one realizes just how courageous this testimonial really is. These disclosures will take a toll. But one is also left convinced that the costs are worth it. By the end, 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."

Wall Street Journal





Alone at the Summit

"The power to leave her warped family of origin and move forward into her own adult life: This is the education of Ms. Westover’s title."

The Atlantic




One-of-a-Kind Memoir 

"Westover's one-of-a-kind memoir is about the shaping of a mind." 

USA Today




Inspiring Story of a Young Woman Determined to Learn

"Educated is a heartbreaking, heartwarming, best-in-years memoir about striding beyond the limitations of birth and environment and into a better life." ★★★★ of four. 

The Economist




A Riveting Memoir

"Her story is remarkable, as each extreme anecdote described in tidy prose attests...All the same, readers who enjoyed more mundane backgrounds will empathize. The central tension she wrestles with throughout her book is how to be true to herself without alienating her family. Her upbringing was extraordinary, but that struggle is not." 

The Sunday Times





"The writing soars...This remarkable story of triumphing over a survivalist upbringing is fit to stand alongside the great modern memoirs."

The Times




From the Mormon Boondocks to a Cambridge PhD

"There have been complaints that #MeToo is all about film stars and six-figure BBC salaries. Well, a scrapyard in the middle of nowhere, where a man fantasises about the end of the world and a young woman fears it, is a much more vivid setting for a tale about battling patriarchy. Her story, of fighting to be herself, is as old as the hills she came from, but Westover, now 31, gives us such a fresh, absorbing take that it deserves to bring her own private Idaho to the bestseller lists." 

Financial Times






More Than Just Survival

"Educated is the story of a transformation so courageous, so entire, as to beggar belief....There’s a further strand to Westover’s struggle, and it concerns the physical and psychological violence she and her sister suffered at the hands of one of her brothers...But to foreground this aspect of Educated is to risk it being consigned to the “misery lit” shelves, which would be to do it a great injustice; for in fact it’s a subtle, nuanced study of how dysfunction of any kind can be normalised even within the most conventional family structure, and of the damage such containment can do."

The Irish Times




An Extraordinary Upbringing Recounted with Evocative Lyricism

"She recounts her experiences with a matter-of-fact lyricism that is extraordinarily evocative, and which makes the emotional impact of the inevitable rift between herself and some members of her family even more powerful. Educated reminds us that education doesn’t just mean learning about history and science and art. It means learning how to think for oneself."

Publishers Weekly




Starred Review of Educated

"Westover’s vivid prose makes this saga of the pressures of conformity and self-assertion that warp a family seem both terrifying and ordinary. "


Best of Lists




Library Reads 

February Reads Top 10 (11 January 2018)


Daily Express

Must-Have New Reads (5 Jan 2018)


Best Books of 2018 (5 Jan 2018)


Books Look Ahead 2018 (4 Jan 2018)

The Pool

Entertainment Weekly

NYTimes Book Review

O Magazine






Time Magazine

The Pool