March Bookclub Review: I Am Malala

Tuesday 31 March 2015 by

I Am Malala, Malala Yousafzai, Book, Weidenfeld & Nicolson, Non-fictionI Am Malala by Malala Yousafzai

Published by Weidenfeld & Nicolson

‘Who is Malala?’ the gunman demanded.

I am Malala. This is my story.

When the Taliban took control of the Swat Valley, one girl fought for her right to an education. On Tuesday 9 October 2012, she almost paid the ultimate price when was shot in the head at point blank range.

Malala Yousafzai’s extraordinary journey has taken her from a remote valley in northern Pakistan to the halls of the United Nations. At seventeen she has become a global symbol of peaceful protest and is the youngest ever winner of the Nobel Peace Prize.

I Am Malala will make you believe in the power of one person’s voice to inspire change in the world.

~*~

“Isn’t it really depressing?” I was asked when I mentioned this month’s choice of read. But I Am Malala: The Girl Who Stood Up for Education and Was Shot by the Taliban is far from depressing. It is one of the most uplifting stories I have read.

Malala Yousafzai is known to the world as the girl who was shot by the Taliban. But, as her story goes to show, she is so much more than that. Even from the age of 11, she was a political activist, inspired by her father to fight for girls’ education in Pakistan. I was overwhelmed by her strength of conviction, her fearlessness, and her maturity right from the beginning.

Malala is ten years my junior, and yet her story is enlightening and humbling. She writes with poetic brilliance, narrating the story with emotion and skill. I was impressed by every sentence.

Malala not only tells the story of getting shot, and what happens thereafter (for that is only a portion of her tale). She tells the story of her childhood, of growing up in Swat, the area of Pakistan where she lived, and how her education and upbringing inspired her to do what she does.

One of the overwhelming things I notice throughout is her family. Her father shines through in particular. They have a special relationship, and Malala’s love for him (and his love for her) is clear on every page. This is almost his story as much as hers. Her mother, a devout Muslim and Pashtun, perhaps risks being hidden in the shade of Malala and her father, but she is equally as present. She is the quiet character whose strength and power continues to surprise the reader. She is the anchor to Malala’s family.

Reading Malala’s story drives home how privileged my upbringing has been – with access to free education, and no fear of violence – and also the importance of family. There were many times while reading that I had to just ring my parents just to remind myself how brilliant they are!

She writes as if writing to a new friend – explaining with patience and humour her upbringing and how the Taliban changed her life, but welcoming you in to accompany her as she fights. There is a “Young Adult” version of this book, but I feel that it isn’t needed; any age can read Malala’s story and understand it.

Malala is unafraid. She is confident, knowledgeable but keen to learn. At a mere fifteen years old, she began to change the world. At seventeen, the Malala Fund has gained momentum. There are no parallels to draw here – Malala is a unique young woman, and this is only the first chapter in what will be many more.

What did you think of I Am Malala?

April’s House of Blog Bookclub is back to fiction! This month, we are reading The Children Act by Ian McEwan. Tweet your thoughts through the hashtag #HoBBookclub on Twitter or write on the wall on the House of Blog Facebook page.

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