I Am Malala by Malala Yousafzai
with Christina Lamb
The cover tells the basic story: “The girl who stood up for education and was shot by the Taliban,” but there is so much more to it than that.
I Am Malala not only tells the story of one girl’s bravery to stand up for her belief in the right to an education, but of the Pakistani people’s history and oppression, of how the angry and underappreciated can become the evil, how easy and dangerous it is to interpret religion and use it against others.
Malala was only a teenager when two members of the Taliban jumped onto her school bus and shot her in the head. The Taliban claimed it was because Malala embraced Western customs and not the Muslim way; in reality it was because she had a voice and wasn’t afraid to stand up for the right to an education.
Malala wouldn’t have been “Malala” without the influence of her father, a man passionate for education, who instilled those values in his daughter as well. Under his guidance, she learned to stand up for her beliefs and rights, and how to speak and fight for herself. She followed his lead and has since become the youngest Nobel Peace Prize recipient, and the first from Pakistan.
I Am Malala is a beautiful and rich story of how war affected the town of Swat, Pakistan, and the family of Malala. It goes into the history of Pakistan, the customs of Islam, and the introduction of the Taliban. It isn’t afraid to talk negatively about the West; to accuse America of wrongdoing, and it helps paint the world Post-9/11 from the perspective of Pakistan. Just like Nazi’s influenced post-WWI Germany and took over the weak and were able to sweep people along; so has the Taliban in the Middle East. This section shows how important education truly is as well; the uneducated and illiterate don’t know to think critically, to relate events to others of history, or to question authority, and with a country like Pakistan, where 50 million adults are illiterate, it’s easy to see how these events could occur.
It was really interesting to read about the culture of Swat, Muslims, and Pakistan as a whole. Though there was a lot of history and backstory, I found it enlightening and intriguing as a whole.
Though some of the minor details seemed unimportant; she mentions her friendship with Moniba a lot, but usually randomly, and with comments along the lines of “we quarreled and she said she wasn’t my friend anymore,” which I suppose were to help remind the audience the age of Malala at the time of the incident, and paint her in a realistic light, but they almost seemed out of place and unnecessary.
If nothing else, this book made me realize how lucky I am to have grown up in America, where I can wear what I want and be what I want, and have access to so much at my fingertips. I don’t have to fight to go to school; running water has never been a problem; I’m allowed to believe what I want.
Malala is a wonderful speaker and storyteller, and her story is a powerful one. I can’t wait to see where she ends up in the future, and how she will continue to influence the world around her.