GDST Book Club: Educated by Tara Westover

Kevin Stannard, Director of Innovation and Learning at the Girls’ Day School Trust (GDST) reviews Educated by Tara Westover.
A tale of escape


A memoir by a woman who grew up in remotest Idaho, cut off from the world by her fundamentalist, survivalist Mormon father.



Tara Westover didn’t attend school. Her father rejected all contact with the outside world. Defying her family, she secretly taught herself, enrolled at university, and ended up doing a PhD at Cambridge. She writes candidly about the damage done in her childhood; movingly about the turmoil brought on by her refusal to succumb, and inspiringly about how teachers she met gave her hope and support. We talk a lot about the transformative power of education. Tara Westover lived it, but continues to live with the consequences – her liberation cut her off completely from her family.



The Atlantic magazine called this “a brutal, one-of-a-kind memoir”. It is harrowing, but hopeful. Five stars.


Most memorable quote

“My life was narrated for me by others. Their voices were forceful, emphatic, absolute. It had never occurred to me that my voice might be as strong as theirs.”


If you liked this book…

You might also like Respectable, by Lynsey Hanley (published by Allen Lane, 2016), another memoir that gives an insight into the opportunities, and personal conflicts, that come with education and social mobility.