Tara Westover’s *Educated* IS a Story About Mormonism

Educated Tara Westover

Like many of us, I resonated with Tara Westover‘s memoir Educated.  I wrote about it here.

Westover writes that her memoir “is not a story about Mormonism.”  But John Durham Peters, an English professor at Yale who comes from a Mormon family and studied at Brigham Young University, is not buying it.  I don’t know enough about Mormonism to know if Peters’s review of Westover is right, but it is certainly thought provoking.

Here is a taste:

Reviewers tend to treat Westover’s story as miraculous. They miss how classically Mormon it is. Rural-smart-kid-goes-to-fancy-university is a well-established cultural archetype, one present in my own family for several generations. Anytime anyone gets a PhD at any university it is a minor miracle, of course, and Westover’s path was more circuitous than most. But her book is a version of the classic Mormon story of the talented young person rising from obscurity to the highest levels. For Mormonism, such an ascent can go both ways—as affirmation or abandonment of the faith—and Westover fully wrestles with the profit and loss.

Read the entire review here.

One thought on “Tara Westover’s *Educated* IS a Story About Mormonism

  1. The review by Professor Peters was interesting and very well written. (It’s no surprise that he’s in the English department.) In passing he brought attention to the fact that Mormonism might now be in a time of transition as great as the days around the turn of the previous century. I wish he would have developed this idea more but realize that his goal was to focus upon other aspects of LDS Church psychology.

    It has been my observation that the most dramatic changes in today’s Mormonism are the result of internet access to honest nonsectarian historical research into the life of Joseph Smith and into the origins of the church. As the professor noted higher education cuts both ways, but simple access to layman’s level historical facts is slaking the very foundations of the faith.


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