Author Tara Westover’s Incredible Story About Leaving Her Strict Survivalist Family

August 29, 2019 0 By Ronny Jaskolski


I read this book
because Michelle Obama told me to read it. I asked her what
she was reading, and she told me, Educated. And I– I listened. I drive a lot, so I listened
to it on audio book. And I didn’t want to
get out of my car. I mean, it’s a memoir. It’s a true story of
your life and how– OK, so you grew up in Idaho? Yeah. And just tell everyone a little
bit about how you were raised. So I was raised– I was the youngest
of seven children on a mountain in rural Idaho. And my parents were
something of– they were kind of survivalists. They were a bit, a
little bit different than your average
parents, you might say. Little bit. Little bit. They didn’t believe
in a lot of the things that most people would
just take for granted. So doctors and hospitals,
they didn’t believe in them. A lot of things– anything really having to do
with the federal government. And then schools,
public schools. So I was never allowed
to go to school. When you say you
didn’t go to doctors, I also was raised in a
religion, Christian Science, which we didn’t go to doctors. But I didn’t have nearly the
kind of injuries that you have. Just list a couple of
things that happened to you. We had a junkyard, and we
worked in this junkyard. And we would get
injured quite a bit. There were kind of a strange
number of explosions and car accidents and things like that. And because my parents
didn’t believe in doctors, they wouldn’t really be treated. So I once had a spike
go through my leg, and of course, there was
no stitches for that. Or I got– we got into a really
bad car accident when I was 14. And my neck kind
of stopped moving. And it’s not that my parents– it’s not that they didn’t
care about our health. It’s that they had these
really sincerely held beliefs. And so I kind of wanted to
write the story a little bit about that difference
between intention and effect, and the way that some people
maybe try to love you, and how that can be different
from the hurtful even disastrous way that love
can manifest in your life. Right. So your dad– like
you had strep throat. And in order to– he thought, to
heal your throat– you had to go outside and leave
your mouth open facing the sun. Yeah, he had this idea that the
sun was the best healing, most natural powerful. So in Idaho, in the
middle of winter, I would go out every day
and just open my mouth, and try to get the
sun on my tonsils. In the middle of winter. They were very swollen. I had tonsillitis. Yeah, in the middle of
winter, which didn’t help. [LAUGHTER] I got a lot sicker. Yeah. But again, I think
it’s a strange story. But kind of the point of it
is, I think, as you grow up, maybe some of these things
about your parents– even if they’re
well-intentioned, you can have a
really difficult time trying to decide what to do with
the fact that the love is real. I think my parents loved us. They absolutely cared about us. And yet, it was incredibly
difficult to navigate that. And it got a lot
harder as I got older. Because I eventually did
decide to go to college. And he didn’t want
you to go to school? He didn’t really want
me to go to school. And you know, I was moving
towards the mainstream. And they were moving
to be more radical. And so it just became
really difficult to maintain those relationships. Right. So you– OK, so you’ve
never been to school. You decide to go to school. And not only do you
decide to go to school, but tell everyone what
college you got into. And then you didn’t stop there. So– I had to teach myself
algebra and take the ACT. And then I applied to
Brigham Young University. And I don’t really– I put on the
application that I’d been homeschooled
to a high standard, and they bought it,
which was great. But then I arrived at
school, and I didn’t really know anything. I mean, I’ve never
heard of the Holocaust. I raised my hand in class
once, and I said, you know, what is this? I don’t know what this is. And it’s another thing I
don’t really recommend doing. People heard that
as denial, actually. They heard it as anti-Semitism,
which is not really what you want. So I had a difficult
four years, where I was figuring out what is
Holocaust and all those basics. And at the end of
the four years, I’d actually really
done kind of– I’d done well. So I went to grad school. And I just carried on. And ultimately I got
a PhD from Cambridge. I still don’t have a GED
or a high school diploma. But I do have a PhD. But you do have a PhD. [APPLAUSE] It’s unbelievable. It’s like– [APPLAUSE] I mean the book is
just like I said, the stories are incredible. That not only that you
survived what you survived, but that you’re so
well-adjusted and so educated. I can keep it together
for five minutes. Well, you know, I be– I mean really it’s amazing
what you went through. And I know there’s
a lot of abuse from your brother in this book. And you say a lot of nice
things about him also. But he really tortured you. And then you
confronted your parents about what he was
doing, and then they stopped talking to you because
they didn’t believe you. And then your sister
didn’t back you up. Yeah, they really didn’t
want to confront that fact. And they just didn’t
want to deal with it. And that would ultimately end
up with us becoming estranged. I think that what’s
amazing is that they stopped talking to you. I’m sure the book did not help. But it’s an important
story to tell. And I love that
you, you know, still tried to keep that
family together. And you still, after all that,
tried to stay in the family. And they kind of were the
ones to push you away. You know, initially
it was their choice. And then eventually it became my
choice also, it was something– Yeah. That is wanted for myself to
have that kind of distance. Yeah. It’s a powerful book. It’s beautiful. And I’m just, you know, I’m so– I don’t even know you,
but I’m so proud of you and happy for you
that– what you did. [APPLAUSE] It’s called Educated. It’s available wherever
books are sold. Today you’re all going
home with a copy. [CHEERS]