Stuff people wrote about me
"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
"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
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
"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
"It's hard to walk away from your family. It's hard because part of us will always believe that we don't have the right to walk away from them, maybe because we've been told so often not to be selfish, not to attend to our own needs. I worry sometimes that we are so caught up in the pursuit of self-sacrifice, that we never learn how to practice self love."
Reviews of Educated
New York Times Book Review
"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
"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."
"Westover's one-of-a-kind memoir is about the shaping of a mind."
"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.
"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."
"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."
"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
"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."
"Westover’s vivid prose makes this saga of the pressures of conformity and self-assertion that warp a family seem both terrifying and ordinary. "