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Educated

A Memoir

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Hardcover
$28.00 US
On sale Feb 20, 2018 | 352 Pages | 978-0-399-59050-4
Selected for common reading at: 

Adelphi University
California State University, Northridge
California State University, San Marcos
Catawba Valley Community College
Dickinson College
Drake University (Center for the Humanities)
Elms College
Emory University
Georgia Gwinnett College
Harvard University
Idaho State University
Illinois College
Illinois Wesleyan University
Indiana University
Lakeland University
Lansing Community College
Lewis University
Lone Star College – University Park
Malone University
Manchester Community College
Maryville University of Saint Louis
Meredith College
Middle Tennessee State University
Midlands Technical College
Missouri State University
Moorpark College
Nevada State College
New York University
Post University
Providence College
Saddleback College
Sam Houston State University
Seton Hall University
Siena College
Somerset Community College 
Southern Methodist University Honors Program
St. Bonaventure University
Stony Brook University
Texas A&M University
The Taft School
University of Akron's First-Year Composition Course
University of California, Berkeley
University of Delaware
University of Idaho
University of Kansas
University of Maine Honors College
University of Mary Washington
University of Nebraska Omaha
University of North Alabama
University of South Carolina 
University of Tennessee - Martin
University of Texas - Tyler
University of Virginia Curry School of Education
Villanova University
Viterbo University
West Virginia University
West Virginia Wesleyan College


Tara Westover was seventeen the first time she set foot in a classroom. Born to survivalists in the mountains of Idaho, she prepared for the end of the world by stockpiling home-canned peaches and sleeping with her “head-for-the-hills” bag. In the summer she stewed herbs for her mother, a midwife and healer, and in the winter she salvaged metal in her father’s junkyard.

Her father distrusted the medical establishment, so Tara never saw a doctor or nurse. Gashes and concussions, even burns from explosions, were all treated at home with herbalism. The family was so isolated from mainstream society that there was no one to ensure the children received an education, and no one to intervene when an older brother became violent.

When another brother got himself into college and came back with news of the world beyond the mountain, Tara decided to try a new kind of life. She taught herself enough mathematics, grammar, and science to take the ACT and was admitted to Brigham Young University. There, she studied psychology, politics, philosophy, and history, learning for the first time about pivotal world events like the Holocaust and the Civil Rights Movement. Her quest for knowledge transformed her, taking her over oceans and across continents, to Harvard and to Cambridge University. Only then would she wonder if she’d traveled too far, if there was still a way home.

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.

“A coming-of-age memoir reminiscent of The Glass Castle.”—O: The Oprah Magazine

“Tara Westover is living proof that some people are flat-out, boots-always-laced-up indomitable.”—USA Today

“The extremity of Westover’s upbringing emerges gradually through her telling, which only makes the telling more alluring and harrowing.”—The New York Times Book Review

“Westover brings readers deep into this world, a milieu usually hidden from outsiders.”—The Economist
Prologue


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.
 
Turning toward our house on the hillside, I see movements of a different kind, tall shadows stiffly pushing through the currents. My brothers are awake, testing the weather. I imagine my mother at the stove, hovering over bran pancakes. I picture my father hunched by the back door, lacing his steel-toed boots and threading his callused hands into welding gloves. On the highway below, the school bus rolls past without stopping.
 
I am only seven, but I understand that it is this fact, more than any other, that makes my family different: we don’t go to school.
 
Dad worries that the Government will force us to go but it can’t, because it doesn’t know about us. Four of my parents’ seven children don’t have birth certificates. We have no medical records because we were born at home and have never seen a doctor or nurse.*  We have no school records because we’ve never set foot in a classroom. When I am nine, I will be issued a Delayed Certificate of Birth, but at this moment, according to the state of Idaho and the federal government, I do not exist.
 
Of course I did exist. I had grown up preparing for the Days of Abomination, watching for the sun to darken, for the moon to drip as if with blood. I spent my summers bottling peaches and my winters rotating supplies. When the World of Men failed, my family would continue on, unaffected.
 
I had been educated in the rhythms of the mountain, rhythms in which change was never fundamental, only cyclical. The same sun appeared each morning, swept over the valley and dropped behind the peak. The snows that fell in winter always melted in the spring. Our lives were a cycle—the cycle of the day, the cycle of the seasons—circles of perpetual change that, when complete, meant nothing had changed at all. I believed my family was a part of this immortal pattern, that we were, in some sense, eternal. But eternity belonged only to the mountain.
 
There’s a story my father used to tell about the peak. She was a grand old thing, a cathedral of a mountain. The range had other mountains, taller, more imposing, but Buck’s Peak was the most finely crafted. Its base spanned a mile, its dark form swelling out of the earth and rising into a flawless spire. From a distance, you could see the impression of a woman’s body on the mountain face: her legs formed of huge ravines, her hair a spray of pines fanning over the northern ridge. Her stance was commanding, one leg thrust forward in a powerful movement, more stride than step.
 
My father called her the Indian Princess. She emerged each year when the snows began to melt, facing south, watching the buffalo return to the valley. Dad said the nomadic Indians had watched for her appearance as a sign of spring, a signal the mountain was thawing, winter was over, and it was time to come home.
 

All my father’s stories were about our mountain, our valley, our jagged little patch of Idaho. He never told me what to do if I left the mountain, if I crossed oceans and continents and found myself in strange terrain, where I could no longer search the horizon for the Princess. He never told me how I’d know when it was time to come home.

 

*Except for my sister Audrey, who broke both an arm and a leg when she was young. She was 
taken to get a cast.
“Westover has somehow managed not only to capture her unsurpassably exceptional upbringing, but to make her current situation seem not so exceptional at all, and resonant for many others.”The New York Times Book Review

“Westover is a keen and honest guide to the difficulties of filial love, and to the enchantment of embracing a life of the mind.”The New Yorker

“An amazing story, and truly inspiring. It’s even better than you’ve heard.”—Bill Gates

“Heart-wrenching . . . a beautiful testament to the power of education to open eyes and change lives.”—Amy Chua, The New York Times Book Review

“A coming-of-age memoir reminiscent of The Glass Castle.”O: The Oprah Magazine

“Westover’s one-of-a-kind memoir is about the shaping of a mind. . . . In briskly paced prose, she evokes a childhood that completely defined her. Yet it was also, she gradually sensed, deforming her.”The Atlantic

“Tara Westover is living proof that some people are flat-out, boots-always-laced-up indomitable. Her new book, Educated, is a heartbreaking, heartwarming, best-in-years memoir about striding beyond the limitations of birth and environment into a better life. . . . ★★★★ out of four.”USA Today

“[Educated] left me speechless with wonder. [Westover’s] lyrical prose is mesmerizing, as is her personal story, growing up in a family in which girls were supposed to aspire only to become wives—and in which coveting an education was considered sinful. Her journey will surprise and inspire men and women alike.”Refinery29

“Riveting . . . Westover brings readers deep into this world, a milieu usually hidden from outsiders. . . . Her story is remarkable, as each extreme anecdote described in tidy prose attests.”—The Economist

“A subtle, nuanced study of how dysfunction of any kind can be normalized even within the most conventional family structure, and of the damage such containment can do.”Financial Times

“Whether narrating scenes of fury and violence or evoking rural landscapes or tortured self-analysis, Westover writes with uncommon intelligence and grace. . . . One of the most improbable and fascinating journeys I’ve read in recent years.”—Newsday
Tara Westover is an American historian and memoirist. Her first book, Educated, debuted at #1 on the New York Times bestseller list and remained on the list, in hardcover, for more than two years. The book, a memoir of her upbringing in rural Idaho, was a finalist for a number of national awards, including the Los Angeles Times Book Prize, the PEN/Jean Stein Book Award, and the National Book Critics Circle Award. To date it has been translated into more than forty-five languages. The New York Times named Educated one of the 10 Best Books of 2018, and the American Booksellers Association voted Educated the Nonfiction Book of the Year. For her staggering impact, Time named Westover one of the 100 Most Influential People of 2019. Westover holds a PhD in intellectual history from Trinity College, Cambridge, and in 2019 she was the Rosenthal Writer in Residence at Harvard University. In 2023, she was awarded the National Humanities Medal by President Biden. View titles by Tara Westover

What I'm Reading: Tara Westover (author of EDUCATED)

Educator Guide for Educated

Classroom-based guides appropriate for schools and colleges provide pre-reading and classroom activities, discussion questions connected to the curriculum, further reading, and resources.

(Please note: the guide displayed here is the most recently uploaded version; while unlikely, any page citation discrepancies between the guide and book is likely due to pagination differences between a book’s different formats.)

First-Year Reading (FYR) Guide for Educated

Designed specifically to be used by faculty or program facilitators for college First-Year Common Reading programs.

(Please note: the guide displayed here is the most recently uploaded version; while unlikely, any page citation discrepancies between the guide and book is likely due to pagination differences between a book’s different formats.)

Discussion Guide for Educated

Provides questions, discussion topics, suggested reading lists, introductions and/or author Q&As, which are intended to enhance reading groups’ experiences.

(Please note: the guide displayed here is the most recently uploaded version; while unlikely, any page citation discrepancies between the guide and book is likely due to pagination differences between a book’s different formats.)

About

Selected for common reading at: 

Adelphi University
California State University, Northridge
California State University, San Marcos
Catawba Valley Community College
Dickinson College
Drake University (Center for the Humanities)
Elms College
Emory University
Georgia Gwinnett College
Harvard University
Idaho State University
Illinois College
Illinois Wesleyan University
Indiana University
Lakeland University
Lansing Community College
Lewis University
Lone Star College – University Park
Malone University
Manchester Community College
Maryville University of Saint Louis
Meredith College
Middle Tennessee State University
Midlands Technical College
Missouri State University
Moorpark College
Nevada State College
New York University
Post University
Providence College
Saddleback College
Sam Houston State University
Seton Hall University
Siena College
Somerset Community College 
Southern Methodist University Honors Program
St. Bonaventure University
Stony Brook University
Texas A&M University
The Taft School
University of Akron's First-Year Composition Course
University of California, Berkeley
University of Delaware
University of Idaho
University of Kansas
University of Maine Honors College
University of Mary Washington
University of Nebraska Omaha
University of North Alabama
University of South Carolina 
University of Tennessee - Martin
University of Texas - Tyler
University of Virginia Curry School of Education
Villanova University
Viterbo University
West Virginia University
West Virginia Wesleyan College


Tara Westover was seventeen the first time she set foot in a classroom. Born to survivalists in the mountains of Idaho, she prepared for the end of the world by stockpiling home-canned peaches and sleeping with her “head-for-the-hills” bag. In the summer she stewed herbs for her mother, a midwife and healer, and in the winter she salvaged metal in her father’s junkyard.

Her father distrusted the medical establishment, so Tara never saw a doctor or nurse. Gashes and concussions, even burns from explosions, were all treated at home with herbalism. The family was so isolated from mainstream society that there was no one to ensure the children received an education, and no one to intervene when an older brother became violent.

When another brother got himself into college and came back with news of the world beyond the mountain, Tara decided to try a new kind of life. She taught herself enough mathematics, grammar, and science to take the ACT and was admitted to Brigham Young University. There, she studied psychology, politics, philosophy, and history, learning for the first time about pivotal world events like the Holocaust and the Civil Rights Movement. Her quest for knowledge transformed her, taking her over oceans and across continents, to Harvard and to Cambridge University. Only then would she wonder if she’d traveled too far, if there was still a way home.

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.

“A coming-of-age memoir reminiscent of The Glass Castle.”—O: The Oprah Magazine

“Tara Westover is living proof that some people are flat-out, boots-always-laced-up indomitable.”—USA Today

“The extremity of Westover’s upbringing emerges gradually through her telling, which only makes the telling more alluring and harrowing.”—The New York Times Book Review

“Westover brings readers deep into this world, a milieu usually hidden from outsiders.”—The Economist

Excerpt

Prologue


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.
 
Turning toward our house on the hillside, I see movements of a different kind, tall shadows stiffly pushing through the currents. My brothers are awake, testing the weather. I imagine my mother at the stove, hovering over bran pancakes. I picture my father hunched by the back door, lacing his steel-toed boots and threading his callused hands into welding gloves. On the highway below, the school bus rolls past without stopping.
 
I am only seven, but I understand that it is this fact, more than any other, that makes my family different: we don’t go to school.
 
Dad worries that the Government will force us to go but it can’t, because it doesn’t know about us. Four of my parents’ seven children don’t have birth certificates. We have no medical records because we were born at home and have never seen a doctor or nurse.*  We have no school records because we’ve never set foot in a classroom. When I am nine, I will be issued a Delayed Certificate of Birth, but at this moment, according to the state of Idaho and the federal government, I do not exist.
 
Of course I did exist. I had grown up preparing for the Days of Abomination, watching for the sun to darken, for the moon to drip as if with blood. I spent my summers bottling peaches and my winters rotating supplies. When the World of Men failed, my family would continue on, unaffected.
 
I had been educated in the rhythms of the mountain, rhythms in which change was never fundamental, only cyclical. The same sun appeared each morning, swept over the valley and dropped behind the peak. The snows that fell in winter always melted in the spring. Our lives were a cycle—the cycle of the day, the cycle of the seasons—circles of perpetual change that, when complete, meant nothing had changed at all. I believed my family was a part of this immortal pattern, that we were, in some sense, eternal. But eternity belonged only to the mountain.
 
There’s a story my father used to tell about the peak. She was a grand old thing, a cathedral of a mountain. The range had other mountains, taller, more imposing, but Buck’s Peak was the most finely crafted. Its base spanned a mile, its dark form swelling out of the earth and rising into a flawless spire. From a distance, you could see the impression of a woman’s body on the mountain face: her legs formed of huge ravines, her hair a spray of pines fanning over the northern ridge. Her stance was commanding, one leg thrust forward in a powerful movement, more stride than step.
 
My father called her the Indian Princess. She emerged each year when the snows began to melt, facing south, watching the buffalo return to the valley. Dad said the nomadic Indians had watched for her appearance as a sign of spring, a signal the mountain was thawing, winter was over, and it was time to come home.
 

All my father’s stories were about our mountain, our valley, our jagged little patch of Idaho. He never told me what to do if I left the mountain, if I crossed oceans and continents and found myself in strange terrain, where I could no longer search the horizon for the Princess. He never told me how I’d know when it was time to come home.

 

*Except for my sister Audrey, who broke both an arm and a leg when she was young. She was 
taken to get a cast.

Praise

“Westover has somehow managed not only to capture her unsurpassably exceptional upbringing, but to make her current situation seem not so exceptional at all, and resonant for many others.”The New York Times Book Review

“Westover is a keen and honest guide to the difficulties of filial love, and to the enchantment of embracing a life of the mind.”The New Yorker

“An amazing story, and truly inspiring. It’s even better than you’ve heard.”—Bill Gates

“Heart-wrenching . . . a beautiful testament to the power of education to open eyes and change lives.”—Amy Chua, The New York Times Book Review

“A coming-of-age memoir reminiscent of The Glass Castle.”O: The Oprah Magazine

“Westover’s one-of-a-kind memoir is about the shaping of a mind. . . . In briskly paced prose, she evokes a childhood that completely defined her. Yet it was also, she gradually sensed, deforming her.”The Atlantic

“Tara Westover is living proof that some people are flat-out, boots-always-laced-up indomitable. Her new book, Educated, is a heartbreaking, heartwarming, best-in-years memoir about striding beyond the limitations of birth and environment into a better life. . . . ★★★★ out of four.”USA Today

“[Educated] left me speechless with wonder. [Westover’s] lyrical prose is mesmerizing, as is her personal story, growing up in a family in which girls were supposed to aspire only to become wives—and in which coveting an education was considered sinful. Her journey will surprise and inspire men and women alike.”Refinery29

“Riveting . . . Westover brings readers deep into this world, a milieu usually hidden from outsiders. . . . Her story is remarkable, as each extreme anecdote described in tidy prose attests.”—The Economist

“A subtle, nuanced study of how dysfunction of any kind can be normalized even within the most conventional family structure, and of the damage such containment can do.”Financial Times

“Whether narrating scenes of fury and violence or evoking rural landscapes or tortured self-analysis, Westover writes with uncommon intelligence and grace. . . . One of the most improbable and fascinating journeys I’ve read in recent years.”—Newsday

Author

Tara Westover is an American historian and memoirist. Her first book, Educated, debuted at #1 on the New York Times bestseller list and remained on the list, in hardcover, for more than two years. The book, a memoir of her upbringing in rural Idaho, was a finalist for a number of national awards, including the Los Angeles Times Book Prize, the PEN/Jean Stein Book Award, and the National Book Critics Circle Award. To date it has been translated into more than forty-five languages. The New York Times named Educated one of the 10 Best Books of 2018, and the American Booksellers Association voted Educated the Nonfiction Book of the Year. For her staggering impact, Time named Westover one of the 100 Most Influential People of 2019. Westover holds a PhD in intellectual history from Trinity College, Cambridge, and in 2019 she was the Rosenthal Writer in Residence at Harvard University. In 2023, she was awarded the National Humanities Medal by President Biden. View titles by Tara Westover

Media

What I'm Reading: Tara Westover (author of EDUCATED)

Guides

Educator Guide for Educated

Classroom-based guides appropriate for schools and colleges provide pre-reading and classroom activities, discussion questions connected to the curriculum, further reading, and resources.

(Please note: the guide displayed here is the most recently uploaded version; while unlikely, any page citation discrepancies between the guide and book is likely due to pagination differences between a book’s different formats.)

First-Year Reading (FYR) Guide for Educated

Designed specifically to be used by faculty or program facilitators for college First-Year Common Reading programs.

(Please note: the guide displayed here is the most recently uploaded version; while unlikely, any page citation discrepancies between the guide and book is likely due to pagination differences between a book’s different formats.)

Discussion Guide for Educated

Provides questions, discussion topics, suggested reading lists, introductions and/or author Q&As, which are intended to enhance reading groups’ experiences.

(Please note: the guide displayed here is the most recently uploaded version; while unlikely, any page citation discrepancies between the guide and book is likely due to pagination differences between a book’s different formats.)

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Videos from the 2019 First-Year Experience® Conference are now available

We’re pleased to share videos from the First-Year Experience® Conference held in Las Vegas, NV this past February. If you weren’t able to join us for our author events at the conference, or would simply like to hear the talks again, please take a moment to view the clips below.   Penguin Random House Author

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Register for the 2019 Penguin Random House First-Year Experience® Conference Author Events!

 Penguin Random House Author Events at the 38th Annual First-Year Experience® Conference Las Vegas, NV, February 16-19, 2019 Click Here to RSVP Interested in hosting one of these authors at your school? Click their name below to learn more! Clemantine Wamariya Casey Gerald Abdi Nor Iftin Scott Harrison Zachary Wood

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