Educated — Tara Westover: a life without proper education can be so different

I was raised with the belief that education is the key to growth and the answer to curiosity.

Tara’s education was self-teaching, self-learning, and self-resilient. She worked her way through Bringham Young University, Cambridge University, and Harvard University with the great disapproval of her family, especially from her dad. However, these accomplishments of hers weren’t what I was most impressed in but the way she chose to deal with her problems after so many years of giving in.

Tara gave in her own story countless times during the few early years when she left her home for college. Everything people say to have happened, although not aligning to what she remembered, she always agreed with them and dismissed hers. The story about her being raped by Shawn, her own brother. About how he was manipulative and addressed her as a whore. As a girl, I know what it is like to be pointed at and accused to be something horrible and something I was clearly not. Perhaps these facts were too tremendous that Tara decided to believe in others’ stories instead, because she didn’t think hers matter, and because by giving in, she could find herself belong, to her family and to the society that her first thoughts about was fueled by those false beliefs of her dad. I was surprised by this. I never think a person could totally dismiss her own memories, especially when Tara keeps a journal and writes regularly. Black and white, on pages. And she refused to believe it. Why didn’t she rip off the pages and show to his father as proof of being abused, despite he asking for it so many times? Why didn’t she cling to her beliefs as her father clung to his and in the end disowned his daughter?

Tara has fought fights after fights in her life, but the greatest one to me, the one that changes her and encourages her to speak up, was when she decided to leave Buck Peak. She was courageous, and flipping those pages, I knew she had freed herself, although that freedom came with great loss — she traded-off her family.

I cannot talk thoroughly through reasons Tara think education is important. For me, though, I knew that by being educated, we are prone to changes, trading our comfort for knowledge, those for better selves. By being educated, I myself and Tara knew what to give in and what matters. She lost her family and I’m loved by mine, but I still think our stories value in different ways because we all matter. And education creates that chasm, diverging the lives of who dread for education and who don’t.

In the book, Tara’s parents business was flourishing and the Westovers became the most privilege family across town. But when we set money aside, one thing occurs to me as the result of lives without education: lack of freedom. Tara’s mom never leaves the house without her husband. Three of her siblings work for the family’s business and economically dependent on their parents. One of them work for herself, but is mentally trapped. Educated, it might really just be freedom.

And one more thing: is that just me being paranoid, or it’s a fact that every single girl has a story about them being verbally and sexually abused, for how they look and what they do, or just simply for who they are? In each memoir I have read, many of whom I know and myself, this somehow becomes the kind of twist that I have learned to expect.

I really hope this is not the end. That she will continue her fight for her family. That she won’t give in to her own comfort. I truly believe that she has freed herself the moment she left Buck Peak, but deep down, I think one has and needs a connection with one’s family. No matter how far away their minds might be and how deep the chasms are, they belong to each other.