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Last Updated September 5, 2023.

Tara Westover's memoir, Educated, tells the story of her life growing up in Idaho with her parents and many siblings. Westover grew up with parents who did not believe in sending their children to an actual school and did not trust the government. This memoir has many hard-to-believe stories that nonetheless actually happened in Westover's life.

Many of the quotes from this story relate to Westover's relationships with her family members.

One important quote from this story is the following:

“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.”

This quote discusses a central theme in the memoir, family relationships. In this story, Westover loses touch with many members of her family, mainly due to huge differences of opinion. Although Westover loves her family members very much, she knows that in order to find her own success and happiness, she needs to let some of her relationships with her family deteriorate. As difficult as this is for her, Westover knows that her relationships are affecting her life in negative ways and ultimately causing her to have anxiety attacks. Westover, like many people who have lost touch with family members, understands that she will always love and miss her family members. However, Westover also knows that her life is better off without these relationships.

Another important quote from this memoir is this one:

My life was narrated for me by others. Their voices were forceful, emphatic, absolute. It had never occurred to me that my voice might be as strong as theirs.

This quote by Westover is essentially also about her family members, especially her father and one of her brothers. Throughout the memoir, Westover discusses how often her father was responsible for making decisions for their family. She mentions that her own mother took her father's guidance without thinking much for herself. For example, when an accident causes one of Westover's brothers to be badly hurt, her father refuses to let him go to the hospital to receive help, even when others knew that this was a horrible accident.

At one point, Westover is attending school at BYU and realizes that many of her opinions are the same opinions and ideas that her father instilled in her. She eventually realizes that these opinions and ideas are not based on anything educational and that, in order to create her own beliefs, she must use her own voice. She especially realizes this when her professors share information about World War II and the Civil Rights Movement, and Westover learns the historical truth of these events rather than her father's thoughts on the events.

A third important quote is this one:

It’s strange how you give the people you love so much power over you.

Again, this quote relates to the relationships Westover has with her family members. For a large portion of her life, Westover lets her family make decisions for her. As she grows, she learns that many of these decisions were not for her benefit and actually caused damage to her. Some of these decisions ended in physical harm, but many ended with mental damage. Westover learns that she gave this power to her family members by allowing them to make those decisions for her without standing up for herself.


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Last Updated September 5, 2023.

Educated , Tara Westover’s memoir about growing up in a family of religious survivalists, is (like many memoirs) part autobiography and part self-help guide. Westover tells the story of her childhood, one isolated from...

(This entire section contains 260 words.)

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the greater community and filled with instances of abuse and neglect. Through her experiences, she develops a philosophical outlook inclined toward self-determination.

While most stories and scenes in this book are in the first person, Westover sometimes takes on an authoritative detachment when writing about inspirational turning points. The effect is that certain quotes within the narrative seem like they’re being intentionally elevated toward loftier goals. In places, Westover assumes the perspective of marginalized groups she is not a part of, a habit she attributes to her emotional connection with historical events. This interesting take on universality can perhaps explain the reason that some excerpts read more like proverbs than self-reflection. For example, consider the following quotes:

To admit uncertainty is to admit to weakness, to powerlessness, and to believe in yourself despite both. It is a frailty, but in this frailty there is a strength: the conviction to live in your own mind, and not in someone else’s (203). . . .

But vindication has no power over guilt. No amount of anger or rage directed at others can subdue it, because guilt is never about them. Guilt is the fear of one’s own wretchedness (332). . . .

We are all of us more complicated than the roles we are assigned in the stories other people tell (339). . . .

You are not fool’s gold, shining only under a particular light (249). . . .


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Last Updated September 5, 2023.

Educated: A Memoir is the story of a woman who reinvents herself, and so for me, some of the most poignant lines in the book are ones that reveal self-truths she discovers on her journey to find her identity. These quotes are self-validating, and they confirm the significance of her journey and its sweeping results. Below are four quotes that helped me identify with Tara and understand her process of transformation.

“First find out what you are capable of, then decide who you are.”

“I had come to believe that the ability to evaluate many ideas, many histories, many points of view, was at the heart of what it means to self-create.”

“My life was narrated for me by others. Their voices were forceful, emphatic, absolute. It had never occurred to me that my voice might be as strong as theirs.”

“Choices, numberless as grains of sand, had layered and compressed, coalescing into sediment, then into rock, until all was set in stone.”