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Educated Summary


Here you will find a Educated summary (Tara Westover's book).
We begin with a summary of the entire book, and then you can read each individual chapter's summary by visiting the links on the "Chapters" section.

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Last Updated: Monday 1 Jan, 2024

Educated Summary Overview

The narrative is a retrospective view into the life of a young girl, the last of seven siblings, growing up on a remote farm in Idaho. Raised in a devout Mormon household, her father, a scrap metal dealer, and her mother, an unlicensed midwife and herbal healer, instilled in her a deep fear of government interference. This led to an unorthodox upbringing devoid of formal education, medical care, or any official documentation. The family dynamics begin to change when the protagonist is about nine years old. Her mother sustains a brain injury, which sees her shift focus from midwifery to intuitive healing. Around the same time, a sibling departs for college, leading the young girl to take an interest in formal education and take on more responsibilities in her father's business, often risking her safety. Entering her teens, the protagonist finds some independence through jobs and involvement in the local community's music and theatre scene. However, her life remains largely controlled by her father's rigid rules and religious doctrine, often causing her anxiety about sinning. Around the age of thirteen, her older brother returns home and becomes physically abusive, his behavior worsening after a head injury. Another brother encourages her to apply for college as an escape, and despite initial uncertainty, she begins to study independently, gaining admission to Brigham Young University at seventeen. Adjusting to university life was challenging but she eventually flourishes academically. Balancing multiple jobs and maintaining high grades to keep her scholarship, she also contends with her father and abusive brother whenever she visits home. With help from a bishop, she secures funding for her education and begins to understand the damaging effects of her isolated upbringing. Upon switching her major to history, she is encouraged to study abroad at Cambridge University in England, which further broadens her worldview. She wins a prestigious fellowship, leading her to pursue a Master's degree. Despite building a successful life in England and working towards a doctorate, she remains in contact with her family, but the relationship deteriorates when the truth about her brother's abusive behavior becomes known. Her family's dismissive response leads to her estrangement from them, causing grief and depression. However, she finds healing, completes her PhD, and embraces an independent life, knowing she may never reconcile with her family.


Tara, the storyteller, set the scene of her youth, picturing her home's rural Idaho location at the foot of a mountain. She recollects being seven and realizing her family's abnormality as none of the kids were school-goers. She further unravels details about her large family of seven siblings, many of whom lacked birth certificates and any standard education. Tara subtly hints at her childhood anticipation of an end-of-world event. She contemplates how her youthful understanding, limited to her surrounding land, proved unsatisfactory in adulthood.

chapter 1

Tara recounts a tale from her early childhood, of federal officials assaulting their home, recounted so vividly by her father that she mistakenly believes it to be a real memory. As the youngest of seven kids, she lives on a secluded farm at Buck's Peak's base, where her family has resided for generations. Her paternal grandmother, known as Grandma-down-the-hill, lives close by. Tara's father, a deeply devout and government-skeptical man, insists on homeschooling his kids. He fuels this by narrating a horrifying story of a family shot by federal agents for refusing to send their kids to school. Tara, therefore, grows up in an environment of fear, witnessing her family hoarding food, essentials, and firearms in anticipation of a federal attack. Despite the prevailing circumstances, Tara's grandmother proposes to take her to Arizona for formal education. Tara initially pledges to escape with her grandmother but ultimately fails to muster the courage to part from her family.

chapter 2

Tara's mother embarks on her journey as a midwife's understudy, despite her initial misgivings, propelled by her husband's firm belief. Soon, she becomes the leading midwife in their locale, which leaves her hands full. As she follows her mother's work, Tara gains insights into conventional herbal wisdom. The newfound responsibility provides Tara's mother with both monetary freedom and self-reliance, though she makes sure to always respect her husband's authority. She's instrumental in procuring birth certificates for her four youngest offspring - Luke, Audrey, Richard, and Tara. Nine-year-old Tara's first experience of accompanying her mother to a birth opens her eyes to the fact that her mother, despite being a chief midwife, doesn't have a license, and could face severe repercussions if discovered.

chapter 3

Tara delves into her mother, Faye's past. Faye was raised in a traditional, middle-class Mormon family, but she opted for a different path by marrying Gene, Tara's father. Gene, raised by an abusive dad and an occupied mother, had a tough, self-reliant lifestyle that initially attracted Faye. Her family disagreed with her marriage, leading to constant tension between Tara and her maternal relatives during her childhood. When Gene married Faye, he was just twenty-one and seemed only nonconformist and defiant. However, as the couple expanded their family, Gene's views grew increasingly radical, to the point of rejecting schooling for his kids or having a telephone. Tara reflects later that she discovered bipolar disorder and observes that its common symptom onset matches her father's slow shift towards paranoid and domineering tendencies.

chapter 4

Tara recalls a family road trip during her early years, which ends in a car crash. Her mother, Faye, observing her father, Gene's growing signs of depression, decides to take the family to Arizona to see her parents-in-law. The visit, however, is marred by Gene's constant disagreements with his mother. Irritated, Gene insists on returning home early, resulting in a severe car accident with Tyler at the wheel. Despite their injuries, none of them seek medical attention. Faye suffers a brain injury, causing her to suffer from confusion and migraines thereafter.

chapter 5

Shortly after the vehicular mishap, Tyler reveals his ambitions for higher education. With Tony and Shawn gone, Gene relies heavily on Tyler, making his departure unsettling. Unlike his siblings, Tyler is inclined towards academics and systematic learning, atypical in their sporadic educational upbringing. Their grandparents praise Tyler's choice, yet Tara is baffled, unable to fathom why he'd want to attend school. Her interactions with her grandparents during this stage highlight that Tara views the world through her father's lens and revels in their distinctiveness.

chapter 6

As the Westover children mature, their family roles change. Audrey starts a job, using her income to promote her independence. Tara and Richard increasingly assist their father in his hazardous scrap-metal business, making Tara aware of her constant risk. Meanwhile, Faye’s brain injury impacts her confidence in her midwifery skills. This leads her to transition towards creating essential oil blends, which she believes possess healing qualities. She appears to be shifting from a logical, scientific viewpoint to basing decisions on intuition and spirituality. Tyler's choice to pursue education sparks Tara's interest in learning and she starts contemplating the idea of attending school. Richard exhibits similar behavior, secretly devoting time to reading and studying. Tara suffers a dangerous accident while working with her dad in spring. Her mother administers treatment at home, refraining from seeking professional medical help. Subsequently, Tara expresses her desire to attend school to her father, but retracts her statement upon seeing his disapproval.

chapter 7

Tara recalls a terrifying summer event following Tyler's departure. Luke, her seventeen-year-old brother, unwittingly sets himself alight after dousing his jeans in gasoline. In his terror, he sets the dry grass around him aflame. Tara is the only one home when a severely burned Luke arrives in agony. She attempts to alleviate his suffering by immersing his burned leg in icy water. Her mother eventually returns, opting to tackle Luke's significant injuries and extreme discomfort herself. Tara digresses from the recollection, realizing that penning it down has sparked a question. She had always thought Luke was alone when he caught fire, but who extinguished the grass fire? She consults her brother Richard, who recalls that their father had sent the injured Luke home alone to deal with the spreading fire. According to Luke's account, their father was present at the time of the accident, assisted him initially, and then returned to control the fire.

chapter 8

At 11, Tara seeks an escape from the scrapyard work and starts babysitting in a nearby town. She works for a client named Mary, a proficient pianist. She learns to play the piano in return for her babysitting work. Mary advises Tara to learn dancing, and Tara's mother secretly arranges these lessons while keeping them hidden from Tara's father. Her father finds out about the dance lessons on the day of Tara's Christmas performance. Both parents attend the event. To avoid angering Gene, Tara's mother acts as if she hadn't known about the dance lessons or the outfit Tara wore. Tara is unable to continue dance lessons, so her mother switches her to voice lessons. Tara's singing at the church earns her a lot of compliments, and her father is genuinely proud of her abilities. When Tara's vocal coach recommends she try out for a part in a local staging of Annie, Gene supports her unexpectedly.

chapter 9

In the summer of 1999, just before Tara turns thirteen, her father becomes obsessively fixated on the idea that the year 2000 will bring about societal collapse. His obsession leads him to devote the family's resources to survival preparation. Concurrently, Tara finds success in her acting and singing as Annie, albeit she often feels awkward around people other than her family members. Through her performances, she befriends a boy, Charles. Breaking from his usual tendencies, Gene brings a cable TV home, which Tara speculates might be an indication of his belief that the world's end is imminent. However, when New Year's Eve arrives and his predictions fail to occur, Gene is left stunned as life continues as usual.

chapter 10

Following the New Year celebrations, Gene falls into a depressive state, prompting Faye to organize another family excursion to Arizona. Yet again, they experience a motor vehicle crash during their trip home, due to risky driving conditions. Tara is left with a neck injury from the accident. Not long after this incident, Tara's elder brother, Shawn, returns home to assist their father.

chapter 11

Unexpectedly, Shawn begins showing interest in Tara's life. He assists her in training a horse she intends to ride and even offers rides to her drama practice. As Tara nears her fifteenth birthday, she encounters a perilous situation where she nearly falls off her horse, but Shawn comes to her rescue.

chapter 12

Tara temporarily assists Shawn with his brother Tony's trucking enterprise, where he fondly calls her “Siddle Lister.” They encounter a girl, Sadie, during one of Tara's rehearsals, who develops feelings for Shawn. Shawn displays both sweet and harsh behavior towards Sadie. When he tries the same domineering approach with Tara, she retaliates by soaking him with water. An angry Shawn reacts violently, forcing Tara to say sorry. Initially, she brushes off the incident, but later identifies it as a deeply distressing experience.

chapter 13

In 2001, Tara Westover's sister, Audrey, is married and their father is prophesying a looming holy war. As Tara matures at fifteen, she becomes more mindful of her father's negative comments about women who dress provocatively or seek attention. Her friend Charles admits his feelings for Sadie, and they date after Sadie and Shawn's breakup, which sparks Shawn's jealousy and aggression. In a frightening turn of events, Tara wakes up to Shawn's physical and verbal attack. Her mother attempts to protect her but struggles. Tyler, however, steps in to break up the assault, encouraging Tara to escape. Upon her return, Shawn justifies his behavior by claiming he's just trying to shield her from sin. Yet, Tyler advises Tara to make arrangements to leave, hinting at college as a possible escape route. In response, Tara secures her bedroom with a lock the following day.

chapter 14

Shawn helps his father expand their construction business, often upset by his dad's refusal to modernize and use safer tools. Tara is occupied with work under a local salesman who exposes her to modern technology like the internet and cellphones. Tyler continues to encourage Tara to consider schooling, hinting at a potential in music. Intrigued, Tara starts preparing for her ACT exam, an important step for college admission. Though she finds trigonometry difficult, Tyler assists her. He's on the verge of finishing an engineering degree and plans to pursue a PhD at Purdue University. After a study session with Tyler, Tara learns that Shawn has had a serious accident. From her brothers Luke and Benjamin, she finds out Shawn fell over twenty feet onto a concrete wall. He seemed fine initially but became aggressive and odd. As his family tries to calm him, he suffers another head injury, leading to an emergency 911 call and an airlift to a hospital. Tara is reluctant to visit Shawn at the hospital, fearing the emotional impact, but when she does, she feels only sympathy. Shawn is sent home to recover, where he reunites with Sadie. Tara devotes herself to looking after Shawn, balancing it with her studies. Despite this, Shawn's behavior becomes increasingly violent and unpredictable post-accident.

chapter 15

Tara's growing discomfort with her domineering father intensifies as she realizes she must defy him to establish herself. Her dad discourages her from pursuing academia, leading her to contemplate not enrolling at all. However, contrary to expectations, her mom insists she should continue her education. Tara carries on studying and assisting her father in his scrap work. She attempts the ACT exam, but, lacking self-assuredness, concedes to the life her father has laid out for her. Tara's father detects her money-saving efforts and begins charging her for different home expenses. He suddenly orders her to leave home on the day her ACT results come in. Initially, her mother concurs, but she changes her mind when Tara reminds her of her tender age of sixteen. Meanwhile, Shawn returns to work and stands up for Tara when their father insists she operate a perilous machine called the Shear. The altercation between Shawn and their father reveals Shawn's growing frustration with the patriarch, but ultimately, the siblings end up working together on the risky machine.

chapter 16

Tensions rise between Shawn and Gene over time. Amidst this, Tara is focusing on improving her ACT score. The summer before she turns seventeen, Shawn has a motorcycle accident and she's the only one there to help. She expects her father's advice to bring Shawn home, but she decides to take him to the hospital instead. Despite the severity of Shawn's injury being less serious, Tara realizes her disobedience has altered their relationship. Three weeks on, Tara's second ACT attempt results in a high score, making her a viable candidate for Brigham Young University. She finds employment at a grocery store and applies for college with Tyler's assistance. Her application is accepted swiftly, and she is to begin her college journey in January, at just seventeen. Tara and her mother begin the search for an apartment, but the enormity of the situation leaves Tara feeling overwhelmed, and she struggles to take further steps in preparation for her college life.

chapter 17

Tara relocates to Utah and shares a living space with Mary and Shannon, two less devout Mormon girls, a fact that unsettles Tara. She discovers that there are different class levels, making it challenging to enroll in beginner courses. Tara is perturbed that she finds most of the course material confusing. This unfamiliarity draws her closer to her conventional faith and practices. During an art history session, Tara inquires about the meaning of the Holocaust, leading to her classmates mistaking it for a joke and reacting harshly. She researches about it post-class and is appalled at her lack of knowledge. Meanwhile, she comes into conflict with her roommates over strictly observing the Sabbath.

chapter 18

Tara discovers that she has greatly miscalculated the cost of her college education, questioning how she will manage to pay for it. Her grades are not high enough to earn her a scholarship, with her Western Civilization class being particularly challenging. She reflects on her unconventional upbringing, recalling a time when she and her siblings rescued an injured owl. Unexpectedly, her father shows understanding when she shares her concerns and offers to help her. Tara discovers, through a casual chat with a classmate, that she is supposed to read the assigned textbooks for her classes. After starting to read them, her academic performance significantly improves.

chapter 19

As her summer break begins, Tara heads back home unsure if she can continue her education with her grades pending. She sets her sights on a job at a local grocery store for financial support, but her father strong-arms her into returning to their scrapping business. Pressured with the ultimatum of no home without scrapping, Tara begrudgingly leaves her grocery job. During this period, Tara's longtime friend Charles develops feelings for her and invites her on a date. As she spends an increasing amount of time with Charles, she also gets the exciting news of earning a scholarship, solidifying her return to college. Despite hoping for romantic advancements from Charles, his initial physical contact sends her into a frenzy.

chapter 20

Shawn and her father take notice of Tara's growing intellect and relationship with Charles, resolved to remind her of her 'place'. Her interactions with them become uneasy due to her newly garnered knowledge. For instance, she now comprehends the inappropriate nature of the racial slur her brother uses to address her, courtesy of her newfound understanding of slavery and the civil rights movement. However, she feels helpless in preventing him from using it.

chapter 21

Just as Tara is preparing to return to university, she suffers a terrible earache. Her mother's herbal treatments are ineffective, leading Charles to suggest painkillers. She reluctantly agrees and is astounded when the pain subsides. Once at school, she shares a living space with Robin, Megan, and Jenni. Robin educates Tara about many unfamiliar social customs. Tara is challenged by her algebra course and the pressure results in the onset of stomach ulcers. Despite her discomfort, Tara rejects medical attention and even accepts a janitor role for extra work. She plans to visit her family home, Buck's Peak, for Thanksgiving, and requests Charles to assist her with algebra during the break.

chapter 22

Tara nervously invites Charles to dinner at home, but fears about Shawn's abusive behaviour. This fear materialises when Shawn instigates a violent confrontation, leading to Charles fleeing the house. The two meet later where Tara assures Charles everything is okay. Their relationship, however, ends due to the stress of the situation. Back in college, Tara's physical state alarms her roommate Robin, but she refuses medical help and counselling services. Tara excels in her algebra final, making her feel invincible. She spends Christmas at home where she learns of her father's surprising acceptance of her brother Richard's academic prowess. Her father hopes Richard will use his education to challenge societal norms. During her time at home, Shawn forces her to confront Charles at work in her unwashed work clothes. When she objects, he assaults her. He apologises later, leaving Tara unsure of whether she misinterpreted the situation.

chapter 23

Tara declines date invitations from men in her church, leading to a meeting with the bishop. Their discussions become personal as she opens up about her life and family. Upon semester's end, she plans to go home to work. The bishop advises against this and even offers to cover her rent, but Tara insists on going back. She pledges not to work for her father and takes a job at a grocery store instead. This results in her returning to school with insufficient funds. A dental emergency arises, and despite her parents' offer to help financially if she works for them, Tara resists. The bishop, aware of her struggles, proposes she apply for a grant or accept church assistance. Tara declines both. She barely survives the semester, facing the end of it penniless. Her plan is to relocate to Las Vegas and live with her brother Tony until Shawn unexpectedly provides the funds she needs to continue school. Struggling to meet expenses even with an extra job, she constantly faces the bishop's encouragement to apply for a grant. Eventually, Tara gives in, applies, and receives a grant. This makes her feel financially stable for the first time and reaffirms she won't need to work for her father again.

chapter 24

Tara, no longer burdened by monetary issues, refocuses on her education. After attending a psychology lecture, she starts questioning her father's sanity. This ignites her interest in the Ruby Ridge incident involving the Weaver family, a tale she had been told by her father as an example of a family slaughtered by the government for not sending their kids to school. Tara discovers the truth - the Weavers were involved in white supremacy and it led to their fatal conflict with the law. She realizes her father's mental condition resulted in distorted interpretations of events. Delving into the study of bipolar disorder, Tara grows increasingly frustrated and confronts her father about the negative effects his behavior has had on her. She spends the summer in Utah, moves into a flat, interns at a law firm, and begins a relationship with a man named Nick. Upon falling sick, Nick persuades her to visit a physician. She receives antibiotics, a move her mother disapproves of due to her preference for traditional medicine. The following day, Tara gets a distressing call from Audrey about their father's critical accident.

chapter 25

Tara ponders over a tale from her ancestors. Her grandfather was gravely hurt during a solitary job on a peak, but celestial beings intervened, preserving his life. Gene, her dad, has recently been a casualty of a catastrophe where a gasoline container blew up, inflicting terrible burns on his face and hands. Tara travels to Idaho, shocked by the state of her father. Miraculously, against the odds, Gene's health gradually starts to improve.

chapter 26

Over two months, Gene recuperates with the help of Tara, her mother, and siblings. Tara seizes this opportunity to open up about her life to him, hoping for a shift in their rapport. Concurrently, Shawn reveals his engagement to Emily. Tara, suspecting Shawn's abusive tendencies towards Emily, arranges a private conversation with the latter. Unexpectedly, Emily discloses not only her fear of Shawn's violent behavior, but also her belief in his divine calling. Upon her return to Utah, Tara contemplates confessing her family's truth to Nick but her shame holds her back. She keeps her family's reality hidden from him. In September, as Emily and Shawn tie the knot, Tara ends her relationship with Nick, convinced she can never fully confide in him.

chapter 27

Tara transitions from music to geography, politics, and history in her third year. She shares her non-traditional educational background with her history teacher, who advises her to apply to a study abroad course at Cambridge University, UK. During Christmas at Buck's Peak, her father is revered as a savior and seer, having endured a horrific incident. Concurrently, Emily grapples with a challenging pregnancy. Tara's Cambridge application gets declined in the winter semester, yet her professor steps in for her. Emily gives birth to a small, premature child in a blizzard at home, resulting in a hasty hospital journey in February. Both Emily and the newborn miraculously pull through, prompting Tara to further scrutinize her family's faith-based approach to life.

chapter 28

Upon reaching Cambridge, Tara finds herself awestruck by her new environment. She intends to collaborate on a research project with Professor Steinberg, who is intrigued by her non-traditional educational history. With his mentorship, Tara advances in her critical thinking and writing skills. Prof. Steinberg starts mentioning possible postgraduate studies at Cambridge, reassuring her that he will manage the financial aspects. Seeing her unease, Dr. Kerry encourages her to have confidence in herself. Despite this, Tara remains consumed by her feelings of embarrassment.

chapter 29

Once Tara is back at BYU, she intends to put Cambridge behind her. However, Professor Steinberg encourages her to try for the Gates Cambridge Scholarship that could finance her postgraduate education. By February, Tara is a recipient of the said scholarship. She carefully avoids mentioning her homeschooling experience in any public discussions, which disappoints her father who feels she's concealing her roots. Despite this, her parents show up at her graduation and even transport her to the airport the night she departs for England.

chapter 30

Upon settling in her Cambridge dorm and attending lectures, Tara recognizes her need to fully embrace her new, educated life. She begins by getting vaccinated and develops an interest in feminism, finding solace in the fact that she's not alone in opposing female subservience. During her Christmas visit to the States, she finds joy in seeing her brother Richard, studying chemistry, with his family. The holiday is initially quiet, but it's disrupted when Emily, Tara's sister-in-law, is thrown into a snowbank by Shawn and left out in the cold. Despite the urgency, Tara convinces Richard and his wife not to intervene, hoping their father would handle it. Gene does reprimand Shawn, but ultimately, Shawn and Emily leave together, leaving Tara torn with regret for not defending Emily.

chapter 31

Prior to returning to England, Tara pays Audrey a visit. Audrey is educating her kids at home which raises Tara's concerns for her nieces and nephews. Once back in Cambridge, Tara dives back into her studies, performing exceptionally well and even being persuaded to think about pursuing a PhD. During spring break, she visits Rome with classmates. The city aids Tara in forming a connection to her past and her role as a historian. After her trip, Tara receives an email from Audrey. Audrey bares the truth that she too was a victim of Shawn's abuse and that she has always been guilt-stricken for not aiding Tara. Audrey plans to confront Shawn and their parents and wants Tara's support and story. Tara agrees but requests Audrey to delay any action until she returns to Idaho. Audrey shows their mother, Faye, Tara's email as evidence of Shawn's abusive behavior. Faye contacts Tara, expressing her belief in Tara's account and her self-blame for being oblivious for so long. Faye also discloses that Gene has bipolar disorder. Tara ends the conversation feeling a sense of relief and support. A week after, Tara learns from her mother that Gene is aware of Shawn's actions and is seeking help. Tara feels optimistic about her family's future and starts being more open about her past with her friends and colleagues in Cambridge.

chapter 32

Tara revisits Buck's Peak, drawn back by her gravely ill grandmother. Her parents' enterprise is flourishing, yet her father, Gene, falls into a state of melancholy following his mother's passing. Tara picks up on a shift in her mother's personality, becoming more dominant, and discerns a growing tension in her parents' relationship.

chapter 33

Prior to Tara's departure, Audrey pleads with her to assist in facing Shawn, however, Tara declines. At this point, Tara is involved with Drew, a fellow Cambridge student. She's deeply engaged in her PhD study, exploring the link between Mormon beliefs and other scholarly traditions, and enjoys the company of her tight-knit friend group. Wracked with guilt about her disconnection from Idaho, she decides to spend Christmas with her family. During her visit to Idaho, Shawn accosts Tara, accusing Audrey of spreading false stories.

chapter 34

Upon reaching home, Tara reveals to her dad, Gene, that Shawn has intimidated Audrey, believing Audrey confronted him about his violent history. Gene, however, demands evidence for Tara's accusations about Shawn. Tara is shocked when her mother, Faye, doesn't support her, prompting Tara to leave in distress. When she returns, she discovers her father summoned Shawn. Upon his arrival, Shawn threatens Tara, presenting her with a bloody knife. Overwhelmed, Tara quickly takes back her accusations, stating she never blamed Shawn. Gene's endless sermon about female submission follows, allowing Shawn to depart feeling vindicated. After his exit, Tara calls Drew, who advises her to flee. To maintain the uneasy peace, she departs the next morning. As she drives past Shawn's trailer, she notices blood on the snowy ground. Later, she discovers that Shawn killed his dog with a knife shortly after their father's call. Reflecting on the distressing incidents, Tara realizes that even though she had an online discussion with Faye, her mother never actually confronted Shawn or discussed the matter with Gene.

chapter 35

Tara, back in Cambridge, braces herself for a clash with Shawn as he learns she spilled the truth about his deeds to their parents. In March's early days, he contacts her, issuing death threats. She alerts her parents, yet they hardly come to her aid. Eventually, Shawn cuts all ties with Tara, as her mother disputes Tara's account of the confrontation night events. During the summer, Tara and Drew take a trip to Paris. While there, an email from Audrey finds her. Audrey reveals their father's insistence that they should forgive Shawn. Choosing to forgive Shawn, Audrey now holds Tara accountable for supposedly distorting her thoughts with evil ideas and decides to sever her connection with Tara. Tara comes to understand that her familial relationships are probably irreparable. Yet, she starts doubting her recollections and even her sanity. In desperation, Tara reaches out to Erin, a past girlfriend of Shawn's. Erin corroborates Tara's accounts, having experienced it all too. The certainty of her memories only fully sinks in years later when a man in Utah, recognizing her surname, brings up Shawn. The man claims to have seen Shawn assaulting a young lady, affirming Tara's memories of Shawn's violent behavior as accurate.

chapter 36

Upon starting her education at Harvard, Tara is taken aback when her parents plan a visit to Boston. Prior to their arrival, she reconnects with Charles, who advises her to cut ties with her family. Her parents are intent on drawing her back into their faith, and despite her longing for familiar comfort, Tara is hesitant. Her parents take her on a tour around significant Mormon landmarks in an attempt to bring her back into the religion's fold. Tara's father accuses her of succumbing to the devil. During a trip to Niagara Falls with her parents, she experiences a fleeting moment of joy. Before their departure, her father proposes to offer her a divine blessing, which she declines. He foresees a difficult future for Tara, requiring divine and familial help. However, Tara remains resolute. Shortly after, her parents depart.

chapter 37

Following her parents' departure, Tara sinks into a state of despair. She yearns to mend relationships with her kin and buys a ticket to Buck's Peak. Unintentionally, Tara discovers an email from her mom to Erin, asserting Shawn is now redeemed, and Tara is devil-possessed. Faye also mentions assisting Emily in her risky home delivery, thanking God for His aid. Tara is infuriated by her mother's decision to deliver the baby at home, aware of the potential danger, and she storms out of the house. As Tara prepares to return to Boston, she receives a call from Tyler, who had been contacted by their mother. Tara had not divulged her issues earlier, fearing disbelief from Tyler. However, Tyler, having been a victim of Shawn's cruelty himself, instantly supports Tara. On completing her fellowship, Tara, alongside Drew, heads to the Middle East. She is amazed by her journey since leaving home, but simultaneously grieves over her damaged familial ties. She resolves to cut off contact with her family for a year to facilitate her healing process.

chapter 38

Overwhelmed by emotional turmoil, Tara is lagging in her academics, anxious about her ability to earn a PhD. Although Tyler attempts to get their parents to empathize with Tara, he fails. Shawn ends up issuing an ultimatum to Tyler, demanding he stop advocating for Tara or face banishment from the family. Tara dreads losing Tyler, certain he'd prefer family stability over his bond with her. To her surprise, Tyler sends a letter, assuring her of his unwavering support and acknowledging the family's abusive nature. Tara seeks therapy and, in time, refocuses on her studies, resuming her research. She hands in her dissertation on her 27th birthday and defends it successfully a few months afterward.

chapter 39

After finishing her doctorate, Tara goes back to Idaho and attempts to meet her mother in town. However, her mother refuses, adhering to her husband's wishes, and insists Tara visits her at home. Upon the death of her grandmother, Tara frets about her accommodation in Idaho for the funeral. She eventually stays with her aunt Angie. At the funeral, she observes her siblings, noticing a split; Tara, Tyler, and Richard have achieved PhDs and lead independent lives, while the remaining four siblings and their partners are employed by their parents and homeschool their children.

chapter 40

The memoir ends with a current status snapshot of Tara's life. Her parents have been absent from her life for years. However, she still communicates with Tyler, Richard, and Tony. Tara has managed to find a degree of tranquility despite her complicated family ties, but her father's future presence in her life remains uncertain. The path to freedom was riddled with personal sacrifices, but it has irrevocably transformed her.

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