Join staff for a book discussion of Educated by Tara Westover. Books are available for checkout near the Service Desk.
About the Book
An unforgettable memoir about a young girl who, kept out of school, leaves her survivalist family and goes on to earn a PhD from Cambridge University. Educated is an account of the struggle for self-invention. It is a tale of fierce family loyalty and of the grief that comes with severing the closest of ties. With the acute insight that distinguishes all great writers, Westover has crafted a universal coming-of-age story that gets to the heart of what an education is and what it offers: the perspective to see one's life through new eyes and the will to change it.
About the Author
Tara Westover is an American author. Born in Idaho to a father opposed to public education, she never attended school. She spent her days working in her father's junkyard or stewing herbs for her mother, a self-taught herbalist and midwife. Taught to read by an older brother, her education at home was erratic and incomplete. She was seventeen the first time she set foot in a classroom. After that first encounter with education, she pursued learning for a decade, graduating magna cum laude from Brigham Young University in 2008 and subsequently winning a Gates Cambridge Scholarship. She earned an MPhil from Trinity College, Cambridge in 2009, and in 2010 was a visiting fellow at Harvard University. She returned to Cambridge, where she was awarded a PhD in history in 2014.
Book Discussion Questions
1. Tara Westover's memoir recounts her life as the daughter of Mormon survivalist parents who leaves rural Idaho to pursue an education. What do you think she's referring to with the title Educated? And what statement do you think the book makes on education at large?
2. Westover's quest for an education is a dramatic rebellion by her father's standards. How does her rebellion differ from that of her older brother Tyler, if at all?
3. Do you think being the youngest child in the family impacted Westover ultimately leaving her family? Would it have made a difference if she'd been the oldest child?
4. Why is it significant that Westover didn't know the word “holocaust” and had no knowledge of race issues in the United States?
5. Which family member had the biggest influence on Westover's quest for a different life? Which non-family members were influential on her life?
6. Westover's life changes dramatically thanks to an encouraging professor at Brigham Young University. How might her life be different if she hadn't applied for the study abroad program at Cambridge University?
7. Westover eventually finds her voice and realizes it's just as powerful as the people who have influenced her life. What is voice, and how important is it that every child be encouraged to find their own?
8. What impact does Westover's pursuit of formal education have on her parents and family?
9. How does education change Westover's view of her childhood? How does she come to terms with how she was raised once she knows the value of education?
10. Westover makes great efforts to ensure the story is as objective as possible, including footnotes where accounts of an event differ, or comparing her diary entries to her memory. As a reader, how important is objectivity in this story, and more largely, in memoirs in general?
11. At 30, Westover is still relatively close in age to the events that occur in this book. How do you think the memoir would be different were it written when Tara was significantly older and more distanced from this time in her life? In what ways would it alter your interpretation of these experiences?
Discussion Questions courtesy of the author