I am Malala: The Girl Who Stood Up for Education and Was Shot by the Taliban by Malala Yousafzai with Christina Lamb
*I’m deeply ashamed to say that I read this something like a month ago and have been sitting on this review for awhile. The end of semester has hit me hard, and reading has been way easier than reviewing. So, you’ll be seeing a lot from me tonight…*
I remember hearing about a young teenager who was shot in the face by the Taliban, survived, and went on to become a global advocate for women’s education in countries oppressed by extremist religious regimes. It felt horrifying real and surreal all at once. How do you live fearlessly when your every moment may be measured and snuffed out altogether? How do you survive the fear that comes from defying religious/political oppression when you seek to improve your own life? These questions and more form the argument of Malala Yousafzai’s rather extraordinary life.
As a child, Malala grew up educated and curious. Her father believed strongly in equality of education, and he believed in a peaceful Islam where women would not have to be afraid. He started a school in the Swat Valley, and where girls and boys could receive an equal education. Malala prized her own learning, so much so that she accidentally became a spokesperson in Pakistan for women’s education, even though the Taliban had established itself in Swat, threatened the inhabitants, and blew up schools all over Pakistan. And then she was shot on a school bus.
Malala’s story is brought to life by her attention to detail and her careful contextualization of these details and events. She is a nuanced storyteller, and she places the Iraq/Afghanistan War in an interesting light that is critical of both Pakistan and the United States, though not demeaning. Further, she demonstrates how most Muslims treat the Quran in context and don’t fixate on killing or abusing each other, which was an excellent reminder for me as an American. The initial chunk of the book is a bit uneven in tone, but it gets stronger as it continues. I do very much recommend this book, as it is an inspiring ode to education and the determination of the human spirit.