I am Malala
By Malala Yousafzai with Christina Lamb
Malala Yousafzai refused to be silenced and fought for her right to an education.
On Tuesday, October 9, 2012, when she was 15, she almost paid the ultimate price. She was shot in the head at point-blank range while riding the bus home from school, and few expected her to survive. Instead, her recovery has taken her from a remote valley in northern Pakistan to the UN in New York.
I Am Malala is the tale of a family uprooted by global terrorism, of the fight for girls’ education, of a father who encouraged his daughter to write and attend school, and of brave parents who have a fierce love for their daughter in a society that prizes sons.
Opening the book I realised I did not know very much about Pakistan - a country with a history of political turmoil and the rise of the Taliban. I was about to be enlightened – a loving mother, two young sons, a father who believes his daughter has a right to be educated and who owns a school for both girls and boys.
In 2007 the Taliban swept into power and mayhem ensued. The army ousted the terrrorists in 2009, and the following year a devastating flood in Swat killed 2000 people.Then came a normal day, sitting in the bus with two other girls, when a chap with a motorbike helmet beckoned the driver to stop, walks down to the girls and Malala is shot.
This is when the story really begins - a triumph of good over evil which cuts across all nationalities and cultures.
This book is a great educational and entertaining read. It constantly reminds us of how fortunate we are to live in the “Lucky Country”. Good triumphing over evil is a great theme for a book “... the Taliban arrived in the night just like vampires... they decreed that girls could not get an education and started bombing schools and killing anyone who disagreed.” Malala is shot, survives, forgives and becomes a passionate advocate of education for girls. She won the Nobel Peace prize in 2014 for her humanitarian work. “There are two powers in the world; one is the sword and the other is the pen. There is a third power stronger than both, that of women.” Malala has used two of these powers to great effect for girls and women in the Muslim and third world. Bravo Malala 8/10
From birth, her father declared that “Malala would be free as a bird” and his love for his daughter nurtured a passion in her for equality in education. Males were favoured by her Muslim culture and Islamic faith.
Malala’s mother supported her resistance to the dictates of the ruthless and cruel Taliban that sought to deny education and freedoms to girls.
A very young Malala showed exceptional courage in speaking out at local, regional, national and international forums, ultimately paying a heavy personal price for her effectiveness and dedication to the cause.
Not a great read but provides a useful insight into Pakistan and the Taliban.
Malala is an ordinary teenage girl. She hates getting up in the mornings. Her room is a mess. Yet along with her father, she becomes an international advocate for the education of girls. This is a well-constructed autobiography that gives us an insight into everyday life before and during the rise of the Taliban. The experiences and missed opportunities of her parents play a big part in how Malala is encouraged and supported.
After Malala was shot her family moved to England, where they still live. With so many thousands of displaced persons flooding into Europe in 2015, Malala’s comments about home and homesickness are worth pondering.
I discovered all of the elements of a great thriller - terrorism, violence, suspense, unexpected twists and turns, an intelligent and determined heroine - and yet I had to stop frequently to remind myself that the story of Malala was real.
The book was co-written by Christina Lamb and there were a few instances that her voice, rather than Malala’s, came through but this did not diminish the sincere message from 16-year-old Malala - education for all, respect everyone’s beliefs and learn to live in peace. Historical references were sometimes confusing but some research helped me understand some of the complexities of that region. This is compulsory reading for high school students and if the pen really is mightier than the sword, it will go a long way in influencing the opinions of others.
I read this book slowly, absorbing the history of the Swat Valley, the struggle to build schools for boys and girls, the fear that the Taliban spread. Inevitably I found myself comparing Malala’s life with the privileged life we have in Australia. I wondered how brave I would have been. The first and ongoing hero in this story is Malala’s father Ziauddin. When Malala was born “he even asked friends to throw dried fruits, sweets and coins into her cradle” a custom usually reserved for baby boys. He instilled in Malala the longing for education and the belief that it was a right for all. We see Malala in the news today and she is a hero, healthy and beautiful. It is easy to forget the horrifying extent of her injuries, her lengthy rehabilitation and the need for the whole family to live in England away from their beloved Swat Valley. This book would be ideal for high school students.