Tara Westover’s story is…wow. When you’re reading this – about a girl who grew up with no schooling whatsoever – you imagine it takes place in the 60s or 70s…how else could anyone be so cut off? Nope. Turns out she’s a year younger than I am (born in 1986). I may not have had internet on my phone growing up, but it was a time when everyone had a tv, people popped Tylenol like candy, and going to college was the norm.

Not for Tara. True, her town was super small, but it was her family’s believe system that was so strange. I’m not talking about religion. The Westover family is Morman, but it is not your standard brand of Mormanism. The real issue is that her parents were Doomsday folks. Her father was sure the world would end at Y2K and that the government was out to get them. As a result, they lived on their own, scrapping and working odd construction jobs. And I do mean all of them. Even an 11 year old Tara was operating extremely dangerous jury-rigged heavy machinery. Yes, she got hurt. No, she was not allowed to go to the doctor. In fact, nobody went to the doctor. Ever. Not after a brain damage-inducing car accident, nor after sustaining 3rd degree burns, nor to be born. 

Honestly, the family is wackadoodle. Perhaps some things are forgivable, but others (like standing by when one child becomes extremely violent) are not. It is a miracle that after a lifetime of zero schooling (and I mean literally none), Tara not only goes to college but graduates with honors, goes on to get her Masters at Cambridge on a Gates Scholarship, and does a fellowship at Harvard. Like I said: wow.

5 out of 5 stars.