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I am Malala: The Girl Who Stood Up for Education and Was Shot by the Taliban
by Malala Yousafzai
genre: memoir, YA
Synopsis from Goodreads
I come from a country that was created at midnight. When I almost died it was just after midday.
When the Taliban took control of the Swat Valley in Pakistan, one girl spoke out. Malala Yousafzai refused to be silenced and fought for her right to an education.
On Tuesday, October 9, 2012, when she was fifteen, 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, Malala’s miraculous recovery has taken her on an extraordinary journey from a remote valley in northern Pakistan to the halls of the United Nations in New York. At sixteen, she has become a global symbol of peaceful protest and the youngest nominee ever for the Nobel Peace Prize.
I Am Malala is the remarkable tale of a family uprooted by global terrorism, of the fight for girls’ education, of a father who, himself a school owner, championed and 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.
I Am Malala will make you believe in the power of one person’s voice to inspire change in the world.
I was introduced to the book when I saw an interview with Malala. While I don’t usually read memoirs, this one was hard to pass up. Those of you who are frequent readers know how much we value the unique power of young women to change the world.
I was impressed by Malala from page one. She’s shaken my understanding of Maslow’s hierarchy for she pursued education even when safety was an issue. After being shot in the head by someone in her own town, one of her first thoughts was to study for finals and continue vying for first in her class.
I am Malala breathed a new perspective into the Afghan War. It felt similar to when I learned about WWII from the Japanese perspective. The one thing that bothered me about it was that for chapters and chapters, she talked about how useless and ineffective the government and army were. She described how the army and the Taliban had checkpoints on the same road only a few miles apart yet no more than two members of the Taliban were ever captured. Then, when America swoops in and doesn’t work with the army to go after Bin Laden, everyone was in an uproar that America dared to not tell the army what they were doing. Really? Can you blame us? I guess it’s similar to how I can gripe and complain about my family, but don’t you dare insult them. Still, it bothered me.
Besides that, the story unfolded well. It dragged in a few places, but gave important background on how Malala was raised. I don’t want to take away from her accomplishments, but I have to give some credit to her dad. Had he not encouraged her to continue going to school and allowed her to fight for what she wanted out of life, she may not have been able to accomplish everything she has. That doesn’t mean it was easy for her. She struggled and she deserves the credit for her bravery.
This is an amazing book and I recommend highly it.
5 out of 5 stars
More on her dad:
My favorite quote from the TED talk: “Enrollment in a school means recognition of her identity and her name. Admission in a school means that she has entered the world of dreams and aspirations where she can explore her potential for her future life.”
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I know what you mean about criticisms of America*. I used to feel the same way when Irish Nationalists talked about ‘The Brits’ – I felt I was being stereotyped at the same time that my compatriots were being bombed. In the comment thread to a recent article by a Black-British feminist, I was encouraged to ‘lean into’ my ‘discomfort’ at certain things she wrote. My retort was that this would challenge me, not necessarily persuade me. But it’s worth doing – I bothered to do it with the Irish Nationalist position (and coincidentally the ‘Loyalist’ position too) and am bothering to do it with the black/British/feminist position – with something as vital as Malala’s story.
*The best criticism of American policy in war and peace is contained in William Blum’s book ‘America’s Deadliest Export’. It’s a collection of essays rather than a seamless book, and therefore it can be a ‘bitty’ read, but it is very thought-provoking. I can recommend it.
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