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Tara Westover's journey from off-the-grid childhood to Cambridge

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A woman's account of her childhood experience off the grid in the Idaho mountains inspired the critically-acclaimed memoir, "Educated." Tara Westover's father was a survivalist who distrusted all forms of government. Westover charted her own path, attending college at 17 and earning a Ph.D. from Cambridge University. Westover joins "CBS This Morning" to discuss her transition into society and the difficulty of reconciling what your family wants for you and what you want for yourself. Subscribe to the "CBS This Morning" Channel HERE: http://bit.ly/1Q0v2hE Watch "CBS This Morning" HERE: http://bit.ly/1T88yAR Watch the latest installment of "Note to Self," only on "CBS This Morning," HERE: http://cbsn.ws/1Sh8XlB Follow "CBS This Morning" on Instagram HERE: http://bit.ly/1Q7NGnY Like "CBS This Morning" on Facebook HERE: http://on.fb.me/1LhtdvI Follow "CBS This Morning" on Twitter HERE: http://bit.ly/1Xj5W3p Follow "CBS This Morning" on Google+ HERE: http://bit.ly/1SIM4I8 Get the latest news and best in original reporting from CBS News delivered to your inbox. Subscribe to newsletters HERE: http://cbsn.ws/1RqHw7T Get your news on the go! Download CBS News mobile apps HERE: http://cbsn.ws/1Xb1WC8 Get new episodes of shows you love across devices the next day, stream local news live, and watch full seasons of CBS fan favorites anytime, anywhere with CBS All Access. Try it free! http://bit.ly/1OQA29B Delivered by Norah O’Donnell and Gayle King, "CBS This Morning" offers a thoughtful, substantive and insightful source of news and information to a daily audience of 3 million viewers. The Emmy Award-winning broadcast presents a mix of daily news, coverage of developing stories of national and global significance, and interviews with leading figures in politics, business and entertainment. Check local listings for "CBS This Morning" broadcast times.
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Text Comments (154)
Stephanie Diaz (2 days ago)
What an incredible story!
MIYAKO ISHII (26 days ago)
Scott P (1 month ago)
Satan loves to persecute Christians. He loves testimonies like this to discredit "ALL THOSE WHO DO NOT TRUST GOVERNMENT" To put it in the public minds that all survivalist are abusive and criminals. There is a time coming when Christians will be executed for their testimony for their following of Jesus. This is why they don't want their children to have a birth certificate and be known to the Gov Nazis. The mark of the beast is now possible with the internet. A cashless society where they can shut off your account at any time forcing you to worship the beast. aka World Government"
Ness (2 months ago)
Gayle King starting with commentary on her relief that Tara looked normal [given her off-grid/junkyard upbringing] is highly offensive and in very bad taste. Prejudice at its finest.
Liza Grace (2 months ago)
Oh Gayle, you've got that same diarrhea of the mouth that your bff has...
Alicia Davis (2 months ago)
I like what she said at the end.
Nick Vartan (2 months ago)
“ wow, you walked in here looking all normal...” Like wtf?? What tf did you expect her look like? Having a beard or nails wrapped around her wrists? I swear, sometimes these tv people are dumber than a donkey.
thegirlyouknow T (2 months ago)
Our stories are not always ones we can understand or relate to. Relationships don't work in the black and white. Gosh, history tells us that. We may never know why a story is what it is or how someone could of lived that life, but the real truth is, we do live those lives and they're aren't easy to understand. Love is not about surface level, public eye, completely relatable information. We often have relationships that are difficult to look and live in, but they are our stories and we can choose to learn from them or not. It's how we receive it, not how it's received.
alg11297 (2 months ago)
Her two brothers got PhD's? And she doesn't mention it?
Reshma V (2 months ago)
its on the book.
alg11297 (2 months ago)
You really wonder how much of this story is at all true. She repeats details over and over in the same words. Maybe it was written for her.
Yank ee (1 month ago)
You're not making a point at all; you're simply seeking to denigrate....A total waste of energy.
Lisa c (2 months ago)
Something doesn't seem quite right.
koriri sawar (2 months ago)
Yup. Felt too
Joan Dana (2 months ago)
After seeing a photo of her father, supposedly badly burned on his face, I have reason to doubt what is true in this book.,
Rebecca White (3 months ago)
Best book I've read in a long, long time....her dad created a crazy existence
Jessica Lewis (3 months ago)
She's like an even more rude version of Oprah. How do people watch her? Hard pass.
Windex from the 1990s (3 months ago)
Shes hot!
Ciera Howell (3 months ago)
They trust a lawyer though? Guess their not that way still.
M K (3 months ago)
This is such a lame story.
Bo Zhu (3 months ago)
Shawn is a nut.
Yokie Miller (3 months ago)
I read the book because I wanted to try to understand the mother. You are a nut, but to find a woman who will go along with not educating your children or treating them when they are ill...I read it and I still cannot understand her mother.
Rebecca White (3 months ago)
Yokie Miller I think the mother just went along with the dad's ideas to avoid conflict and she was a follower, not a leader like him
Maggie'sGrace (3 months ago)
Goes to show that school is worthless. You can unschool for 17 years and go to college and graduate and do fine.
WPH (3 months ago)
Clearly haven't read the book. Are you one of her parents?
Karen Becker (3 months ago)
Reading her book I became unaware of the passing of time; it is so well written and intriquing.
Ummi Sadi (4 months ago)
Tara...I wants to contact with you ..... My email:[email protected]
MRN W (4 months ago)
Her dad is a smart guy!
Jaime Medina (4 months ago)
One of the most brilliant minds! A true philosopher! I loved the book, I loved the strength, intelligence, and persistence she utilized to achieve her success! 🙏
TEZ (4 months ago)
I had a similar journey. When I eventually matured and overcame fundamentalism I thought there was a reasonable world waiting for me. I found out that fundamentalism comes in forms other than religious and is quite common. Religious fundamentalism was just one form. For example, the popular strand of feminism that was preached at my University was the same as the religious fundamentalism I had extricated myself from (in all but content): it demonised all those who disagreed, it demonoised science/reason, it offered oversimplified explanations of complex problems, it used conspiracies to explain almost all social problems, and it sought to bully people into conformity rather than offer clear cogent arguments. As a former fundamentalist, I was inoculated against fundamentalist forms of thinking and so could avoid the brainwashing process that many of my liberal peers succumbed too. The problem is not with ideas such as religion, atheism, communism, capitalism etc. It is with fundamentalist ways of thinking that refuses to learn and instead seeks only evidence to verify one's point of view. To overcome this, intelligence is not enough. It can take a bit of courage and work too.
Johanna Kline (4 months ago)
She’s amazing! The story is wild. But if her parents don’t believe in all these things why do they have a lawyer?
Sarah Crozier (2 months ago)
Johanna Kline they also run a super successful essential oil company, with lots of employees. I believe she lived an unconventional and even abusive childhood. But like most of our own personal history there is always a mix of fact and perception.
Jesse Scranton (4 months ago)
she came in looking so normal but you on the other hand not so much...........
Just Susie Again (4 months ago)
Just finished this story. It was a WOW moment.
Kairos (4 months ago)
She is truly so normal, down to Earth and intelligent. More normal than most of the people who has "standard" childhood and upbringings.
jorge pearl (4 months ago)
home schooling and living off the grid is not bad, if you provide good education and good life
RL Hat (5 months ago)
She’s extraordinary. Her father was mentally ill as was her brother. She’s fortunate she’s so bright.
Seba Ramhamdani (5 months ago)
Best book I read in a while
Anh Nguyen (5 months ago)
She sounds awesome
K H (5 months ago)
This was one of the most amazing, most disturbing books I’ve ever read.
Paul Charles (5 months ago)
Tara obviously had an excellent mind that she decided to devote to secular academic pursuits for a while. It seems exceptional because we are conditioned to see secular school and education as exclusively synonymous!!
Paul Charles (5 months ago)
I'm all for home schooling. As long as the child can read and write and has basic arithmetic and access to books and information, the child's natural curiosity and regular conversational communication with adults will, more often than not, develop their minds more quickly and intensely than all but the finest secular schools!
eco_literacy (5 months ago)
It's not just Mormons who are fundamentalists in their approach to life. The so called "normal" society that unabashedly promotes insatiable materialism and consumerism is what caused Slavery, Oil Wars, deaths of millions of Native Americans....it goes on and on. Mormons even if they are "fanatic fundamentalists" in their approach have not influenced even a millionth of a fraction of the destruction in Human history.
Ky (4 months ago)
Cherie Hogan sir, I was raised In the church. I belong to an entire family of members. I have seen kindness and mercy and goodness, and I have also seen extremism and cruelty from some people. I understand what you’re saying, and it’s what Tara said too in the beginning of the book, that the story is not about Mormons. Obviously, the leadership of the church doesn’t teach or promote the kind of behavior Tara’s father exhibits. That’s him. Someone can take the teachings and manipulate them however they want, just like extremists have taken the peaceful teachings of Islam and manipulated them into something they are not. That’s my point. You can’t generalize that an entire group is completely “good” or “bad” they are just people.
Cherie Hogan (4 months ago)
Except that mormons are almost nothing like the way she describes her parents. Remember that she keeps saying that her father referred to the other mormons as "gentiles" because they were nothing like them. Her family was extreme, mormonism as a whole is not nearly the way they were.
Ky (5 months ago)
eco_literacy Mormons are people just like everyone else. There are wonderful ones, there are terrible ones. Some use the religion to make them better, some to justify their own evil acts. They’ve contributed as much as everyone else, and helped as well.
A G (5 months ago)
5 bucks says her dad loves Alex Jones aka gay frog
5dd (6 months ago)
I read Educated by Tara Westover shortly after reading Infidel by Ayaan Hersi Ali. The parallels are shocking. Religion enables, and even encourages the very worst in people.
beachsunshineapril (6 months ago)
Gail will never be Oprah. She has no screen 'presence'.
RealityBytes (6 months ago)
“You walked in here looking so normal.” Geez lady, how can you talk with your foot shoved so far in your mouth?
RealityBytes (3 months ago)
Centennial there was really no excuse for it. They could have googled and found Tara’s picture and known what she looks like, but apparently this woman felt it was necessary to make that awkward comment.
Centennial (3 months ago)
I thought that was so cruel and in bad taste and rude!
Pri USA (3 months ago)
RealityBytes some people have zero filters!
Sakina Fletcher (6 months ago)
I grew up in an abusive religious family as well! I'm estranged from them as well. I can't wait to read this!!
Carl Eze (1 month ago)
What of abusive atheist family?
William Wordsworth (6 months ago)
if it‘s a similar story to Anzia Yezierska's bread giver, is it worthy reading?
Betül Sökmen (6 months ago)
My name is Cağın berat sökmen (CBS)
Amy McCarthy (7 months ago)
I finished reading this book today. I admire Tara and I'm grateful I got to read her inspiring story. Her ability to grow to trust her own voice after many years of being emotionally/psychologically manipulated, was a powerful read for me. I cried after I put this book down. I feel like her story will stay with me for my lifetime. Thank you Dr. Westover!
mary shaffer (7 months ago)
T hey didn't become drug addicts like most of their neighbors kids.
T. Hardy (7 months ago)
This was our book for book club . . . we had a VERY spirited discussion. This book elicits strong emotions.
JM Cast (7 months ago)
There has to be a happy medium between these two worlds. There is nothing wrong with independence and raising your kids to work hard, but it is unfortunate they had to isolate themselves so much
Donald Coder (8 months ago)
A story about one of the strangest and ugliest of the several American religions. There is nothing lovely about this dark cult!
Sarah Crozier (2 months ago)
I don’t know...I feel like I live a pretty normal lovely life. Nothing too strange or ugly here. Do you actually know any Mormon’s 🤣
Cherie Hogan (4 months ago)
You need to realize though that the way they lived was nothing like "mainstream" mormonism. They themselves called other mormons "gentiles" because they were nothing like them. The Westover's were extreme.
Dan Palmer (8 months ago)
The movie will be wonderful
Terry Anthony (9 months ago)
Very interesting book. Father Westover has a narcissistic personality disorder. Also, raging misogyny. Amazing the hold our families have over us.
McCall Cruse (9 months ago)
This book was AMAZING!
Mujeeb arahman Mujeeb (8 months ago)
U xxy publik.com her .and frand me 👐👐👐👐
Danijela Iv (10 months ago)
This is one of the most dangerous childhood to live and the most challenging path to get out. I am glad Tara managed.
AKAAKi 157 (11 months ago)
Such a great book and unique experience. So sad that Tara had to be estranged from her family in order to be her own person. We are lucky when our own families let us stay real to who we are.
Judy Bell (11 months ago)
Great story, well told. I read this in a day because it was so compelling! The odds of Tara Westover earning a PhD at Cambridge were overwhelmingly against her. The odds of two of her brothers also earning PhDs -- off the charts! One thing this book makes crystal clear -- her father isn't a stupid person; deranged and stupid are two very different things.
Paul Charles (5 months ago)
That 's because you are brainwashed into believing more in the "school" system than it deserves!
Flávio (1 year ago)
I recommend this book . I'm inspired by her story and hearing her speak in video for the first time didn't get disappointed
lexalina132 (8 months ago)
@Donald Coder what makes you say that? Anything in particular?
Donald Coder (8 months ago)
Forget this book. A big waste of time.
Jeanne Evans (1 year ago)
My family did home school and what she explained in her book was not home school. Basically it seemed like the parents just wanted them all at home to help run the junk yard. I knew about Hitler when I got to college. Yeah I hate it when people do home school and do it horribly, ends up making home school look bad. But I think her and her two brothers have been awesome proving that it didn't matter what the parents did by getting PhD's. That's pretty cool she got into BYU, that is one thing no one in my family did. But I don't think any of us applied since there are plenty of other universities around. I feel bad for her that she had to split from her family. Pretty sad the abusive brother got away with his crap. Sigh!
Julie Smith (3 months ago)
Your grammar is marginal.
Anna Wixom (6 months ago)
I have mixed feelings. You never know what the truth is. I am sure the truth is somewhere in between hers and her parents. She was clearly educated prior “to educating herself” or how would an ACT book even make sense to her? I don’t doubt she was isolated, but she obviously had access to the world to some degree.
The Stead at Home Mom (6 months ago)
I was a public school teacher for 6 years & I’m homeschooling my kiddos because government schools are pretty terrible. We are homesteading but we certainly aren’t isolated. Until our recent move 2 of our neighbors were homeschooled & have been successful adults & became good friends. Cases like this are extremely rare which makes the stories fascinating!
lisa segelbaum (6 months ago)
Jeanne Evans /
Jeanne Evans (9 months ago)
Oh and remember she went to some pretty impressive universities as well. Who goes to Cambridge and Harvard for a PhD? Sounds like you didn't even read the book! If you actually read the book and then talked then you wouldn't show off your ignorance on this topic.
Plumb Awl (1 year ago)
"Educated" is the best memoir I have read in years! I did not see nor hear any YT videos until after I read this book, firstly. I am inspired by Tara's fortitude during her self confrontations to grapple her physical sufferings while enduring family social tumults to eventually find long awaited support by some family conflicted similarly as she persued her PhD! Her singing voice echoes the very essance of her journey with pure dignity from where she began in the Idaho mountains to the accomplshed woman she is presently!
lexalina132 (8 months ago)
@Donald Coder Eh, bit of column A, bit of column B. Mormonism has its good, bad, and ugly, just like all religions.
Donald Coder (8 months ago)
Sad she never asked if all this Morman stuff was true or just a dark cult.
craig sawicky (1 year ago)
Reading between the lines, Is being self-sufficient,and maybe a little paranoid ALWAYS a BAD thing? Obviously SHE doesn't appear to have actually suffered educationally. Could ANYONE guarantee,SHE would have done as well if subjected to what is considered,a NORMAL life? Bet She is a person ANYONE would desire as a Neighbor in an Emergency.
JM Cast (7 months ago)
@Christine Braunstein Good point. You are right, I am only half way through
Christine Braunstein (7 months ago)
@JM Cast If you think that, then I don't believe you read the book. She talks quite a bit about wonderful memories that she had that are quite vividly drawn.
JM Cast (7 months ago)
I thought the same thing. I dont think she yet appreciates the aspects of her childhood that served her very well.
ramywiles (1 year ago)
She suffered physically and emotionally. That's the point.
Jeanne Evans (1 year ago)
It's called she taught herself and that's why she even got into BYU. (Also had the good influence of her brother) If she hadn't of bothered teaching herself then she would have ended up like the four siblings who were at a 4th grade level.
Cathy Y. Taylor (1 year ago)
I agree with Gayle... an amazing story!
Ronna Stefan (1 year ago)
The book is one of the best I've ever read - interesting and well written. And I read a LOT!
Lisa c (2 months ago)
Read the book "Them" by Ben Sasse
Christian Toisoul (6 months ago)
@lexalina132 Funny you mentioned the Narrative of FD. I read FD just before this one. Loved both!
lexalina132 (8 months ago)
@Openyoureyes39 It seems like you haven't either, given that you think this book is a waste of time (going based off of your other comments). I bet you'd say the Narrative of Frederick Douglass, also a story of escaping oppression through education is a waste of time too.
vanessak69 (1 year ago)
I’m reading it now. She’s a great writer.
Openyoureyes39 (1 year ago)
Haven't read much then
Holman Garcia (1 year ago)
She probably was rape by her loser brother,but THE HOLY AND ONLY GODJESUS CHRIST DIED ON THE CROSS TO GIVE LIFE TO EVERYONE WHO BELIEVE IN HIM. READ THE HOLY BIBLE IN JOHN 3;16 explain how we get save from evil in JESUS CHRIST. IN REVELATION 20;10 explain where we are going when we die,so you choose.
Francesca Cialone (6 months ago)
Holman Garcia, She was not raped by her brother.
JoEllen Michael (6 months ago)
Teach the unreachable! The truth is so good! May others read and open their hearts to be healed of secrets! Family secrets keep families sick! BRAVO!
JoEllen Michael (6 months ago)
Thank you for Tara opening up heart to
Obviously she's the product of great parenting..... BTW could Gail King be more prejudice?
Stephanie Allred (5 months ago)
Definitely not terrible parents. Just a little extreme.
Sarah Frates (7 months ago)
No way. They were abusive and neglectful. Today the children would have been taken away and they would be in jail. Failure to get medical care is neglectful. Putting them in dangerous situations is abuse. Failure to protect against "Shawm" is abuse and grounds for taking the children away.
lexalina132 (7 months ago)
Mônica you’re absolutely right, and i 100% agree that this was a case of inspite of rather than because of her parents. i should probably clarify that “because they’re abusive parents” in my prior comment is because i view it as more of a neglect situation as opposed to cut and dry abuse since the father didn’t intentionally cause the explosion/fire to his son’s leg (using a specific example from the book here), he just didn’t take him to a hospital—thus neglecting medical care, though the injury was not the direct result of a physical attack on the son by his father. I really hope that made sense! Please let me know if i can clarify anything! 😊
Mônica (7 months ago)
@lexalina132 I don't think abusive behaviour has to be intentional, though. She turned out fine in spite of her parents, not because of them.
lexalina132 (8 months ago)
I would argue that while she wasn't the product of good parenting, she isn't the product of horrible parenting either. I wouldn't say her parents are evil horrible monsters for living as they did, but there are MANY things that set of major red flags--not taking your son to the hospital after he's damn near burnt his leg down to the bone and is in severe pain, for example. They didn't do it because they're abusive parents or that they hate their children, they were just... paranoid beyond any reasonable comprehension...
Urban Beardman (1 year ago)
What a journey. What an inspiration. Read the book or listen to it - above all make it your own. Learn from it. Such a bright and intelligent woman. To call her story highly commendable is to say nothing. It is so much more than that.
Jose Villarreal (1 year ago)
Amazing! REAL Hope for individuals. Proud of this woman.
lexalina132 (8 months ago)
@Openyoureyes39 survivor of crazy people who refused to get her a birth certificate until she was 9 years old, made her work in a junkyard hauling scrap at age 10 (and ALMOST CRUSHED HER with machinery and didn't give a damn), shamed her for wanting an ACTUAL education, didn't treat her or her siblings with ACTUAL medicine thanks to psycho dad's paranoia, AND try to call her a liar when she won't shut up and get in the kitchen. The only good thing those people did for her was be proud when she got the lead role in Annie and to let her actually leave instead of holding her hostage in complete ignorance.
Openyoureyes39 (11 months ago)
survivor of what?
TL K23 (11 months ago)
It was a wonderful book. She's a blessing! A real survivor.
Openyoureyes39 (1 year ago)
Real hope? What was she escaping? She had parents who educated her, she never had to take a pharmaceutical for the first 17 years of her life. Waste of time
SUPER MORMON (1 year ago)
It should be noted that her book is not Church approved reading.
betty mach (8 months ago)
steven steinbrink (9 months ago)
Fair and Freckled i have to say you are VERY much the exception to the rule! I respect your beliefs but i have to say that many people, mormons and non mormons alike would not consider you a truely devout mormon. But as i say i respect your autonomy and single mindedness.
steven steinbrink (9 months ago)
i completely agree with you Tlotus. It's sad to say this as it may be offensive to the people of the mormon faith but it is sadly the case.
gooigigigigi (11 months ago)
I appreciate your post, its hard for me to take the religion seriously because I know several former mormons had some pretty horrific/toxic experiences. I wish you luck and happiness though if it works out for you.
Jeanne Evans (1 year ago)
Eric Rausch Obvious the other Jeanne got sick of talking to you. She obviously never replied to you. Your comments are ridiculous. So I don't blame her. Obviously she's not being coy, stupid she is accused of that for asking a question.
Eliana Peretz (1 year ago)
This was one of the best books I’ve ever read. It was truly amazing
Lisa c (2 months ago)
Read the book "Them" by Ben Sassy
Brian Bob Young (3 months ago)
@Shay Westlake yea I read it and was like, oh wow the internet malfunctioned for a sec there with kindness and a sincere question
Shay Westlake (6 months ago)
@lexalina132 The first intelligent reply to a comment I've ever seen on the internet. Congratulations.
lexalina132 (8 months ago)
@Donald Coder why was it disgusting? What parts specifically did you dislike? I get it, not every book is going to appeal to every person, if they did we wouldn't have so many wonderful genres to choose from! But I'm curious regardless--what, in your mind, made the book so extremely unappealing as to call it disgusting?
Donald Coder (8 months ago)
I found it a big bore and disgusting.
Channing Johnson (1 year ago)
Bravo Gale for insulting the guest and making her feeling uncomfortable before she has a chance to talk.
Helene von Ludowing (6 months ago)
I think Gayle shouldn't have done that... Tara looked natural, not stilted by any means, but I believe that alluding to her family in such a way is disrespectful, maybe Tara doesn't care? It sure is a great entrance but just not so friendly to the guest!
TL K23 (11 months ago)
Tara is amazing!
James Smith (1 year ago)
Channing Johnson Maybe he knows something we don't...
1catmac (1 year ago)
What poise and intelligence. Very inspirational. Getting book today
lexalina132 (8 months ago)
@Donald Coder being normal is vastly overrated anyway :) I LOVED this book!
Donald Coder (8 months ago)
Don't waste your time. Fully boring and irrelevant for normal people.
TL K23 (11 months ago)
1catmac it's amazing. I just read it. I couldn't put it down.
Jeanne Evans (1 year ago)
Pretty cool book, I felt bad for her that she had to have a crazy family like that. I'm glad she still talks to a few of her brothers though. :)
Dosadoodle (1 year ago)
I just finished listening to the audio book version today and loved it.

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