Books

Educated

Tara Westover recalls her first day at school, at age 17, in her memoir.

Tara Westover

Tara Westover was 17 when she first set foot in a classroom. Instead of traditional lessons, she grew up learning how to stew herbs into medicine, scavenging in the family scrap yard and helping her family prepare for the apocalypse. She had no birth certificate, no medical records and had never been enrolled in school.

Westover's mother proved a marvel at concocting folk remedies for many ailments. As Tara developed her own coping mechanisms, little by little, she started to realize that what her family was offering didn't have to be her only education. Her first day of university was her first day in school — ever — and she would eventually win an esteemed fellowship from the University of Cambridge and graduate with a PhD in intellectual history and political thought. (From HarperCollins)

From the book

I'm standing on the red railway car that sits abandoned next to the barn. The wind soars, whipping my hair across my face and pushing a chill down the open neck of my shirt. The gales are strong this close to the mountain, as if the peak itself is exhaling. Down below, the valley is peaceful, undisturbed. Meanwhile our farm dances: the heavy conifer trees sway slowly, while the sagebrush and thistles quiver, bowing before every puff and pocket of air. Behind me a gentle hill slopes upward and stitches itself to the mountain base. If I look up, I can see the dark form of the Indian Princess.

The hill is paved with wild wheat. If the conifers and sagebrush are soloists, the wheat field is a corps de ballet, each stem following all the rest in bursts of movement, a million ballerinas bending, one after the other, as great gales dent their golden heads. The shape of that dent lasts only a moment, and is as close as anyone gets to seeing wind.


From Educated by Tara Westover ©2018. Published by HarperCollins.

Interviews

Tara Westover grew up with isolationist parents who didn't trust the government and gave her an erratic homeschooling. But getting an education - culminating in a PhD from Cambridge - helped her break out. 23:49