Book Summary: Educated by Tara Westover

Educated by Tara Westover Book Cover

Educated by Tara Westover is a memoir that chronicles the author’s journey from a secluded and abusive childhood in rural Idaho to obtaining her PhD from Cambridge University. The book is a powerful and inspiring tale of overcoming adversity and the transformative power of education. In this summary, we will explore the key themes and events of each chapter, and analyze how they contribute to the overall message of the book.

Chapter 1: Born Into Mormonism

The first chapter of Educated introduces the reader to Tara’s family and upbringing in rural Idaho. She was born into a Mormon family that was deeply suspicious of the outside world and government. Her father was abusive and her mother was mentally ill, which created a difficult and chaotic home life. Tara’s parents had no formal education and did not value it, which made it difficult for Tara to pursue her own education.

Chapter 2: The Bucket

In this chapter, Tara recounts a traumatic event from her childhood where she was injured while working in a scrapyard with her brother. Her father refused to take her to the hospital, and instead she was left with a bucket to catch the blood pouring from her head wound. This incident highlights the extreme neglect and abuse that Tara and her siblings experienced at the hands of their parents.

Chapter 3: The Prophet

Tara’s father was a charismatic and manipulative man who claimed to be a prophet and convinced his followers to cut themselves off from the outside world. This chapter explores the dangerous and abusive nature of her father’s influence and how it affected Tara and her family.

Chapter 4: The Reckoning

In this chapter, Tara’s mother finally leaves her father and takes her children with her. This is a turning point in Tara’s life, as she begins to see the world beyond her family and starts to question the beliefs and values she was raised with.

Chapter 5: The Transformation

Tara begins to attend college and discovers a new world of ideas and opportunities. She becomes involved in activism and meets people who challenge her beliefs and encourage her to pursue her education. This chapter is a turning point in Tara’s life as she begins to break free from her past and embrace her future.

Chapter 6: The Education

Tara’s academic success continues as she earns a scholarship to study at Brigham Young University. She struggles with the transition from small-town Idaho to the larger world of academia, but eventually finds her place and thrives in her studies.

Chapter 7: The Awakening

Tara becomes involved in the feminist movement and begins to question her own beliefs and values. She realizes that her upbringing was not only abusive, but also misogynistic and oppressive. This chapter is a turning point in Tara’s life as she begins to break free from her past and embrace her future as a feminist and advocate for women’s rights.

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Chapter 8: The Escape

Tara’s relationship with her family becomes increasingly strained as she pursues her education and rejects the beliefs and values of her upbringing. Eventually, she leaves her family behind and moves to Cambridge to pursue her PhD. This chapter marks the end of Tara’s physical and emotional journey away from her past and towards her future.


Educated is a powerful and inspiring memoir that tells the story of one woman’s journey from a life of abuse and neglect to a life of education and empowerment. Tara’s story is a testament to the transformative power of education and the importance of breaking free from oppressive beliefs and systems. Through her struggles and triumphs, Tara shows us that anyone can overcome adversity and achieve their dreams with determination and perseverance.

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