Educated: A memoir or fiction?

Her book was a New York Times Bestseller. Her story described an unconventional upbringing that was so foreign to many, that it could be complete fiction. Educated, by Tara Westover, was written as a memoir, but how much of it is true?

Let’s start by taking a look at Westover’s overall narrative: If you persevere enough, even the impossible becomes possible. The author emphasized in the book that her parents did not believe in continuing her homeschooling past elementary school, resulting in her not getting a high school diploma or GED. She also mentioned this on the March 14, 2019 episode of Ellen. Here we have the first inconsistency. Anyone who has ever applied to college (myself included) can attest to the fact that you need to meet all the minimum requirements, one of which is having a high school diploma or equivalent. According to Brigham Young University’s (BYU) website, all homeschooled applicants must submit any high school work, and if they did not finish high school, they must submit your GED score or any high school equivalency exams.

Confused Rooster Teeth GIF by Achievement Hunter - Find & Share on GIPHY

Westover also prides herself on scoring a 28 on the ACT (88th percentile), but again, how was this possible when she claimed that the last math function she learned was long division? What about the English portion of the test, which would require an advanced level of reading and writing in order to pass? I cannot even get started on what must have happened with the science portion.

Learning is built upon a foundation. Going from having an elementary school education to scoring in the 88th percentile on the ACT is like trying to build a house with only the foundation and the roof. It’s not happening. The only explanation is that the author was homeschooled, but admitting it would not have allowed her to create such a sensational story. As I read on, I started to think this was not the only major detail Westover omitted.

Let’s fast forward to the author’s college days. Aside from being the worst and most unhygienic roommate on Earth, Westover never specified how she got the money to travel home from BYU, and later from Cambridge. According to Google Maps and Google Flights respectively, the first would be approximately a 3 hour drive , and the second would be roughly a $1500 flight. Even if the author did not lead an extravagant lifestyle, gas, food, water, and other basic necessities all cost money. It is unlikely that she saved up tens of thousands of dollars from her job at the local grocery store, so how was she able to fund her trips home and basic living needs? The only explanation would be that the author’s parents funded all her incidentals, while she supposedly got a scholarship for her tuition.They were not poor since they were able to afford all those excess supplies, two cars, plus TV, phone and internet. This leads me to believe that Westover grossly exaggerated the extent of the family’s “poverty”, again, so she could look like a heroine.

Lastly, there must be something in that Clifton water that makes its residents superhuman. I mean, how else could anyone survive having their leg half chopped off, life threatening burns to the entire body, and blows to the head to the point of their brains spilling out, without proper medical care? Either that or those herbs and oils must be something really special.

Okay jokes aside, there are actual burn victims who have died in the hospital while receiving professional medical treatment. So, in my opinion, it is highly unlikely that her father survived those burns, and her brothers survived other life threatening injuries, with herbs alone. Another reader pointed out on Goodreads that Mrs. Westover had a photo of her husband on her Facebook page, which was supposedly taken after the fire, but yet he had no burns. However, I am unable to comment any further on this, as I could not find said photo on Facebook or anywhere else online.

Educated has been praised as an inspirational story of a woman who succeeded against all the odds. She managed to thrive in life, at prestigious universities, despite physical abuse and most importantly, a lack of education. But sometimes, when something seems too good to be true, it usually is. Which is exactly how I feel about this book.

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