It was a closely fought race, but the winner of the 2018 Goodreads Choice Award for Best Memoir and Autobiography is Tara Westover‘s powerful debut, Educated.
The story of Westover’s journey from a childhood in the mountains of Idaho, the daughter of survivalist parents who never sent her to school, to gaining a Ph.D. from Cambridge, beat Michelle Obama’s Becoming, which came in second. Last year’s winner in this category was Hillary Rodham Clinton’s What Happened.
At times harrowing and emotional, Educated charts Westover’s girlhood working in her father’s dangerous junkyard and helping her herbalist mother, never seeing a classroom or doctor. Constantly prepping for the End of Days, she was in thrall to an older, violently abusive brother and parents who told her she had been “taken by Lucifer” when she tried to speak out. As a teenager, she began to educate herself, eventually attending Brigham Young University, then Cambridge and Harvard. But finding herself through education would also cost her dearly; after a mental breakdown, Westover was forced to accept that to live the life she wanted she must sever ties with the parents she still loves.