A year after her book “Educated” hit the stands, the woman whose entry into the world was so obscure she didn’t even have a birth certificate has been named as one of Time Magazine’s 100 Most influential People this year.
For the last 16 years, Time has made the list based on people their editors think have broken the roles, the records, the silence, or the boundaries to revel what they are capable of, stated their website.
This year’s categories were: pioneers, artists, leaders, icons and titans. Westover was listed in the pioneer category.
“Near the end of Tara Westover’s breakout memoir, Educated, she pauses on a timeless question, ‘Who writes history?’” writes Edward Felsenthal, editor in chief and CEO of Time, in his introduction of the 2019 list. “Decades from now when we look back at this era, it’s a fair bet that the answer will be many of the people on this year’s list of the world’s 100 most influential people. Among them is Westover herself, who has captivated readers with her astonishing journey from the mountains of Idaho to Cambridge and Harvard universities, and beyond."
Westover’s introduction on the list is written by Bill Gates, known worldwide for his philanthropy stemming from his success as one of the founders of Microsoft.
“If you haven’t read Educated yet, chances are you know someone who has. Tara Westover’s brilliant memoir has been on the best-seller list since its release, and for good reason. Her story of growing up in a Mormon survivalist home — and eventually escaping to earn a doctorate from Cambridge University — is hard to put down,” he states.
Gates writes that he interviewed Westover last year and was even more impressed with her in person.
“Her unique perspective on polarization in America feels especially important right now," Gates writes. "Educated isn’t a political book, but it touches on common divides in our country: red states vs. blue states, rural vs. urban, college-educated vs. not. Tara has a lot of smart things to say about overcoming those divides."
What's next for Westover? She told Gates in the interview that she wants to keep telling stories that show people other perspectives.
“If we had more ways that we can understand and communicate with each other, I believe that that would do a lot to help us communicate and work on what I think is the central problem with our democracy right now, which is that the two sides no longer feel like they’re even part of the same country," Westover said. "I kind of want to make the Idahos and the Ohios and the Alabamas a little bit more accessible to the places like New York, to those places where that way of life is so foreign and almost unimaginable.”
In her book, Westover describes being raised on her parent’s junkyard on Buck’s Peak in Franklin County, where she helped her parents and was taught to read and write, but was never enrolled in the public educational system. “Educated” is a memoir of her journey of reaching past her parents' view of the world into her own.