Birth certificates. Seatbelts. School. Before reading Educated by Tara Westover, these three things were non-negotiables in my mind. Of course I have a birth certificate. I always wear my seatbelt. I attended public school as a child. But Westover had the opposite experience, a coming-of-age story she details in this critically acclaimed memoir. Westover grew up in the mountains of Idaho with survivalist parents. Instead of attending school, Westover and her siblings salvaged metal in their father’s junkyard. Injuries and illnesses were treated with herbal tinctures. As a teenager, Westover rebelled by going to public school and teaching herself enough math and English to pass the ACT. Her story is gripping and troubling. She constantly battled to find a comfortable sphere of living, whether in the mountains where she grew up, or ultimately studying abroad in Cambridge, where she was challenged and respected.
Margaret Gardner is the senior library manager at R.H. Stafford Library in Woodbury. She lives in the Twin Cities with her husband and dog.