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Educated: A Memoir Audiobook, by Tara Westover Extended Sample Click for printable size audiobook cover
Author: Tara Westover Narrator: Julia Whelan Publisher: Penguin Random House Format: Unabridged Audiobook Delivery: Instant Download Audio Length: Release Date: February 2018 ISBN: 9780525528067
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An unforgettable memoir about a young girl who, kept out of school, leaves her survivalist family and goes on to earn a PhD from Cambridge University

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 ties with those closest to you. 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.

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Quotes & Awards

  • Propulsive . . . Despite the singularity of her childhood, the questions her book poses are universal: How much of ourselves should we give to those we love? And how much must we betray them to grow up? Vogue
  • 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
  • Westover’s extraordinary memoir is haunting in the best way, delivering a powerful coming-of-age saga. Paste
  • 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
  • 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
  • This gripping coming-of-age story shows a woman’s world being opened through education. Refinery29
  • Raw and unflinching . . . lyrical and literary. Library Journal
  • An astonishing account of deprivation, confusion, survival, and success. Kirkus Reviews
  • At its heart, her memoir is a family history: not just a tale of overcoming but an uncertain elegy to the life that she ultimately rejected. Westover manages both tenderness and a savage honesty that spares no one, not even herself. Booklist
  • If [J. D.] Vance’s memoir offered street-heroin-grade drama, [Tara] Westover’s is carfentanil, the stuff that tranquilizes elephants. The extremity of Westover’s upbringing emerges gradually through her telling, which only makes the telling more alluring and harrowing. . . . By the end, 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
  • Living proof that some people are flat-out, boots-always-laced-up indomitable . . . a heartbreaking, heartwarming, best-in-years memoir about striding beyond the limitations of birth and environment into a better life. USA Today
  • 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 coming-of-age memoir reminiscent of The Glass Castle. O: The Oprah Magazine
  • Incredibly thought-provoking . . . so much more than a memoir about a woman who graduated college without a formal education. It is about a woman who must learn how to learn. The Harvard Crimson
  • Heart-wrenching . . . a beautiful testament to the power of education to open eyes and change lives. Amy Chua, The New York Times
  • “Narrator Julia Whelan’s performance is outstanding. She expresses author Tara Westover’s naïve trust in her father…Whelan conducts a master class in the fear, dread, and self-doubt wrought by domestic violence as Westover recounts her older brother’s terrorizing all while spewing religious righteousness. Winner of the AudioFile Earphones Award.”


  • “A memoir that is fit to stand alongside classics…A compelling and ultimately joyous account of self-determination.”

    Sunday Times (London)

  • "[A] searing debut memoir…Westover’s vivid prose makes this saga of the pressures of conformity and self-assertion that warp a family seem both terrifying and ordinary.”

    Publishers Weekly (starred review)

  • A February LibraryReads Pick
  • An Elle Magazine Pick for February 2018
  • A Publishers Weekly Pick of the Week
  • An Entertainment Weekly Pick of Most Anticipated Books
  • A Vogue Pick
  • An Amazon Best Book of the Month selection
  • A USA Today Pick of New and Noteworthy Books
  • A New York Times bestseller
  • A BookPage Top Pick for March
  • A USA Today bestseller
  • Winner of an AudioFile Earphones Award
  • An Apple iBooks bestseller in Biographies & Memoirs
  • A Kirkus Reviews Pick of 9 Women Writing Bold Memoirs

Listener Reviews

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  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 TraciS | 9/25/2020

    " My kids were assigned this book for their HS AP English class. I usually try and read a book they are reading each year, and since their teacher is the best teacher they've ever had, I decided this year I would keep up with all of them. Glad I am, because truly, this is a great read (listen!). It is a deep, full of emotion, and such a captivating memoir. Tara Westover made her mark! Also, I am picky on readers' voices.. Ms. Whelan was one of the best I have heard. I felt like I was right there in the story! "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Madalina | 12/7/2019

    " This book was inspirational to me. It really put in perspective what it means to educate yourself, normalising the process of learning, the amount of work it requires and the roadblocks along the way. I felt educated about a culture that I had little contact with and about determination and pushing through natural processes of development. The way the author talks about her feelings provided words about similar situations that I had been through. I recomend this book. It's a testament of resilience and the power of growing and changing, and the heartache and joys it brings. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Madalina | 12/7/2019

    " It really puts in perspective for me what is means to educate yourself, normalising the process of learning, the amount of work and roadblocks along the way. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Textile Patterns | 4/10/2019

    " Educated is a gripping tale that pulls you in immediately. Her story is one of redemption and inspiration-- and it's impossible to put down. I highly recommend this book and would read it again. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Julie | 3/14/2019

    " This is absolutely one of the best books I've read in a long time. Tara Westover details her life (the youngest of seven siblings) growing up in a radical Mormonism family - one that doesn't believe in Modern Medicine or Public School, even though she details several major accidents that left family members with severe injuries. This book is so captivating that I listened to it in two settings. Then, I Googled and Facebooked so I could get a better understanding of her parents "Gene" and "Faye" and her bi-polar brother "Shawn." As expected, Westover's family dispute her version of these events, and is likely the reason she is estranged from her parents and several siblings. Still, Tara Westover knew she wanted more for herself than what she could have living on the mountaintop in Idaho. She taught herself the subjects she would need to know to be successful on the ACT. Through hard work, dedication and perseverance, she went on to earn a Ph.D in history from Cambridge. Westover is a wonderful writer and as always, Julia Whalen does a fantastic job narrating this story. I would give this book six stars if I could. "

About the Author

Tara Westover was born in Idaho in 1986. She received her BA from Brigham Young University in 2008 and was subsequently awarded a Gates Cambridge Scholarship. She earned an MPhil from Trinity College, Cambridge, in 2009, and in 2010 was a visiting fellow at Harvard University. She returned to Cambridge, where she was awarded a PhD in history in 2014.

About the Narrator

Julia Whelan, winner of numerous Earphones Awards, won the prestigious Audie Award for Best Romance Narration in 2013 and has also been a finalist for an Audie Award in other years. She was named one of AudioFile magazine’s Best Voices of 2010, and two of her audio narrations were shortlisted for the American Library Association’s notable recordings of 2010. Her narration of Jandy Nelson’s The Sky Is Everywhere earned a place in the first round of 2011 Grammy nominations for Best Spoken Word Album. She is a former child actor who has appeared in multiple films and television shows, most notably ABC’s Once and Again. After receiving her college degree, she returned to the film industry and is also a writer.