I added this as an impulse buy to an Amazon order because I kept seeing it pop up on so many “Best of 2018” lists. And for good reason. As many others have said, this book is phenomenal.
Educated is Westover’s memoir; her story of growing up in an extreme, fanatical, Mormon household (no one was permitted to see a doctor, children weren’t enrolled in school, half of the kids didn’t even have birth certificates, etc). She eventually escapes from this life and goes on to graduate from BYU and eventually earn her PhD.
I’d hate for anyone to read this and pin the blame for her traumatic childhood on the Mormon church, as I think this is a great example of extremists of ANY religion not necessarily representing the majority. Instead, it’s a story of resilience and perseverance, of pain and success, of family and self-preservation. It’s so incredibly heartbreaking at so many points, when she has to confront the toxic, traumatic reality that is her family – and how many of us have been in our own version of that story… knowing that the healthiest thing to do is to walk away and get as far away from the manipulation (and even outright abuse) as possible, but knowing that means walking away from the family that you love, and even leaving behind those who don’t want to be helped.
I can’t recommend this book enough – although I’d slap a pretty significant trigger warning on that, specifically for those working through domestic abuse situations.
Reading the press surrounding this book, you’ll see plenty of skepticism about the validity of her story. But even if this was a 100% fictional novel, the writing is superb and I couldn’t put it down (and if you’re anything like me, you will then go online and easily find all the members of her family – even the ones who she gives pseudonyms to in the book). Such a fascinating story, from an author that I hope we hear more from soon!