A Memoir

Book - 2018
Average Rating:
Rate this:
"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 in her father's junkyard. 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 one of Tara's older brothers became violent. As a way out, Tara began to educate herself, learning enough mathematics and grammar to be admitted to Brigham Young University. Her quest for knowledge would transform her, taking her over oceans and across continents, to Harvard and to Cambridge. Only then would she wonder if she'd traveled too far, if there was still a way home. With the acute insight that distinguishes all great writers, Tara Westover has crafted a universal coming-of-age story that gets to the heart of what an education offers: the perspective to see one's life through new eyes, and the will to change it."--Provided by publisher
Publisher: New York : Random House, [2018]
Edition: First edition
ISBN: 9780399590504
Characteristics: xv, 334 pages ; 25 cm


From the critics

Community Activity


Add a Comment

slborb Aug 17, 2018

I enjoyed this as an audio book. I found myself captivated by the story and the narrator, even digging my nails into my palms at some of the more horrific parts. Tara Westover richly describes the place where she grew up and the people in her family. You truly get a small window into this very different way of life and mentality. You understand how complicated it is for Tara to break away from these people and these things. Each member of her family could probably tell an equally compelling story of their experiences as well. Well worth the read (or the listen).

Aug 16, 2018

Tara Westover writes dispassionately about her family
And an adherence to the murky stew that is religious zealotry, misogyny
And gross survivalist suspicion.
There is the familiar cast of fanatical father, deranged brother,and a mother who fails to
Protect her from the former.
Westover’s ambivalence is understandable ; her ‘exit’ while not final, is a stunning
Testimonial to higher education , a series of mentors and sheer grit.
Sadly those young women who most need to hear this story-will never have the access,
Or means or strength to follow her.

Aug 05, 2018

This was a riveting book I could barely put down and definitely resulted in some sleep loss. Tara survived her childhood and family and achieved the impossible dream. The amount of strength, introspection, determination, love, belief in herself, the support others enabled her over time to achieve self-actualization. This book expertly details her struggles and achievements.

Aug 05, 2018

This book is one of the most powerful memoirs I have ever read. Raised in a survivalist Mormon family with a bi-polar father, Tara overcame so many terrifying obstacles to graduate with a PhD from Cambridge University. Least among her challenges was her parents decision not to provide her with even a rudimentary homeschooling. Troubling to read, but too compelling not to finish and cheer for Tara’s determination as she slowly realizes the real world is quite different than that of her parents.

Aug 03, 2018

Listening to the author on numerous podcasts made me hungry to want to read this book. After about fifty pages, my should-I-stay-or-should-I-go line, I decided to cut bait. It's not that it isn't beautifully written nor fascinating, it's that I can't continue reading about children being raised in this manner. Perhaps it's due to my background, perhaps it's that the author has done almost too good of a job of describing her side of life in a cult, perhaps it's that I don't want characters like her parents in my mind, ever, but I had to put it aside. Too bad as I love a good pull-yourself-up-from-your-bootstraps story, particularly with a female narrator. It was just too painful. I wanted to cry.

Jul 27, 2018

Recc by Barbara Baill June 2018

multcolib_alisonk Jul 24, 2018

There are many moments in this memoir of growing up in a strict religious household that caused me to wince. Ultimately, it's a story about motivation and perseverance, but the road there is rocky and filled with manipulation, delusion and abuse. Julia Whelan does an excellent job of narrating the audiobook.

ArapahoeChristineS Jul 19, 2018

Utterly amazing! This memoir will even appeal to those who don’t typically enjoy nonfiction. Westover’s unflinching examination of her bleak childhood is heartbreaking, however her journey in deciding to educate herself was astounding. Having not even been properly homeschooled she taught and prepared herself to take the ACT test. Having been completely sheltered/isolated, and only being exposed to her fathers extremist world view, Westover candidly opens up about her confusion and frustration in college at basic things — from hygiene to never having heard of the Holocaust. This was so unbelievably fascinating!!!

vm510 Jun 28, 2018

The last two thirds of this book are glorious and I read without stopping for hours. Westover traces her upbringing in a survivalist Mormon family that does not believe in the "Medical Establishment" and does not send their children to school. They suffer through serious accidents, all to be solved with her mother's herbs and a belief in God. Her brother is abusive and violent - and her parents blame her.
Westover starts to slowly disentangle herself from her family, attending BYU. She loses herself learning about history, attains more opportunities studying abroad, and is ultimately awarded a PhD. I loved hearing about her education; her ignorance supplanted by discovery. As she learns more and questions her parents' beliefs, her family tries to "save her." Growing up in this kind of family - and especially as a girl/woman - there is gaslighting to the extent that Westover questions her own reality... that maybe succumbing and not losing her family is better. She sifts through these thoughts, showing us that getting an education offers you opportunities to construct your own mind and make your own decisions.

Jun 19, 2018

Every time I thought something was too painful to read, I thought how much more painful it must have been to write.

View All Comments


Add a Quote

DBRL_ReginaF Mar 14, 2018

“You can love someone and still choose to say goodbye to them,” she says now. “You can miss a person every day, and still be glad that they are no longer in your life.”


Add Age Suitability

There are no ages for this title yet.


Add a Summary

There are no summaries for this title yet.


Add Notices

There are no notices for this title yet.

Explore Further

Browse by Call Number


Subject Headings


Find it at MARINet

To Top