I’m not sure where to even begin my review of Educated. It wrecked me. I was a whirlwind of emotion throughout this read, fully engrossed in Westover’s remarkable story. One of my friends, Kelley, who is a wonderful chemistry professor at Notre Dame University, brought this title to my attention when she sent me and a few of our book loving friends an email back in March with the following recommendation, “The memoir is powerful, maddening, eye-opening….I am still trying to process everything (just finished at last night).” I was convinced. How couldn’t my curiosity be piqued after that high praise? I’d waited patiently ever since for Educated to come available at my local library. Upon starting this eloquently weaved tale I found that it was quite impossible to put down. Within many of the chapters Westover seamlessly intertwines various stories during different stages of her upbringing, ultimately uniting them in an insightful, overarching reflection. While I grew up in an incredibly rural community, attending the local public school and graduating with a class of 29, Westover’s area hometown or her perhaps family’s isolation makes mine seem urban in comparison. Her journey alone is inspirational from an uneducated teen by conventional standards to eventually traveling the world and obtaining her PhD. She managed to detail in a truly unbiased prose the parallels I’ve also experienced leaving a rural town and coming back after graduate school and travel.
Another noteworthy aspect of this work is that throughout Westover maintains a lack of bitterness, regardless of her family’s transgressions, which ultimately adds significant credibility to her story. Whenever an author allows bias to seep into their accounts, it immediately triggers a red flag for me and attaches some quantity of uncertainty to their story. Westover instead builds hope up over and over and over again in each one of her family’s private exchanges only to have the courage to share the subsequent heartbreak with her readers. During one particularly distressing argument, I was setting up my instrument for the day’s analysis and found myself with my head in my hands, devastated with the turn of events. As soon as I finish an audiobook, I typically cue the next one in line immediately. A surefire testament as to how Educated impacted me, was that I remained in silence the rest of the work day as I finished prepping my samples, mulling over in pull of family and how their actions impact us. Westover particularly illustrated pull that the comfort and duty family holds over us throughout life, but especially as we leave the roost. Having been exiled from her family, it would have been so easy for her to forsaken what was true to fall back into old familiar rhythms. Her boldness was remarkable, as she took the path filled with heartache in resistance to what would have been a known commodity. I fully expect Educated to continue to grow in acclaim, as each reader will pass on this intriguing work to friends and family. Overall, I find Kelley’s description of powerful, maddening and eye-opening most ideal and I couldn’t hope to capture a better depiction. Westover has displayed true bravery, not only in the actions within her life, but having the fortitude to lay out herself and her family out in such eloquent fashion to share with the whole world. In short, read this book before all of your friends and coworkers are talking about it!