The literary world’s been buzzing over Tara Westover’s brutally-honest, family-oriented memoir, Educated, since it was published by Random House at the end of February. Westover wrote the book after completing her Ph.D. at Cambridge – an unlikely environment, perhaps, for an individual who didn’t pass the threshold of a classroom until she was 17-years-old. Born to survivalist parents in the mountains of Idaho, Westover spent most of her childhood preparing for the end of the world, stockpiling home-canned peaches and salvaging metal from her father’s junkyard. She never saw a doctor growing up and rarely interacted with other people, unless she was at church. Vogue called the memoir “Propulsive…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?” 

Image courtesy of Vogue.

Westover, now 31, settled-down in the UK after she completed her doctorate in history in 2014. This was after she graduated magna cum laude from Brigham Young University in 2008, earned an MPhil from Trinity College, Cambridge in 2009, and was a visiting fellow at Harvard University in 2010. But this educational trajectory was never the plan – in an interview with Vanity Fair, Westover confessed that she “fully believed she would return home eventually, marry, and live in the way her father intended.”

“I understood that it was this fact, more than any other, that made my family different: We didn’t go to school.” — EDUCATED

Here’s Penguin Random House’s description of the book: “Educated is an account of the struggle for self-invention. It is a tale of fierce family loyalty, and of the grief that comes from severing one’s closest 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.”

Image courtesy of Trinity College Cambridge.

“I had begun to understand that we had lent our voices to a discourse whose sole purpose was to dehumanize and brutalize others—because nurturing that discourse was easier, because retaining power always feels like the way forward.” ― EDUCATED

You can read an excerpt of the book here. If you’re particularly keen on audiobooks, Westover and her audiobook’s narrator, Julia Whelan, recently spoke with Signature about the recording process. Below is a Barnes & Noble interview with the author where she talks about life, the value of education, and what she hopes readers will take away from her book.