Educated: Summer Reading Discussion Questions

(Students: Check your Siena email and Canvas several days before the first day of class to see if your FYS professor has specific instructions in regard to these questions.)

  1. What was your initial reaction to the memoir? Use specific references from the text as support for your response.
  2. Why does Tara Westover point out that the book is not about Mormonism in her Author’s Note?
  3. Why does Westover continually return home, despite the tremendous adversity and abuse she faces there?
  4. What is Gene Westover’s attitude about women’s roles in society, and does it change to suit his personal agenda?
  5. Of all of the people Tara Westover encounters on her journey, who has the most positive impact on her and why? Who has the most negative impact and why?
  6. Before Westover leaves her family home for good (Chapter 37), her dad tells her that he loves her. In Chapter 40, she admits that the only way she can love her father is, in fact, by leaving. What does this reveal about the complex nature of love and relationships?
  7. In an interview with PBS NewsHour, Westover says that she had to ask herself the following: “What do you do when the obligations that you owe to your family are somehow in conflict with what you owe to yourself?” How is this question answered in the book, and how would you respond to this query?
  8. What does Tara Westover think it means to be educated? As you embark on your college journey, what do you think it means?
  9. On page 197, she states: “My life was narrated for me by others. Their voices were forceful, emphatic, absolute. It had never occurred to me that my voice might be as strong as theirs.” How does Westover ultimately find her voice and how does she change her own life and potentially the lives of others by expressing it in her memoir?
  10. Westover frequently uses asterisks in her text to clarify a memory or detail at the bottom of the page. What does this say about her as a storyteller?
  11. Do you think your understanding or appreciation of this memoir would be different if it were a fictional narrative?
  12. Why do you think you were asked to read this book at this time?
  13. Explain how the memoir connects to your First Year Seminar course theme.