I Am Malala: The Girl Who Stood Up for Education and Was Shot by the Taliban was one of my book club books for February. When March started and I had still not started reading it, I took advantage of Audible’s free 30 day trial to “read” it. I have of course heard of Malala Yousafzai, the youngest winner of the Noble Peace Prize, and knew somewhat her story, so I was interested in diving in and learning more. Unfortunately, the story was 80% the history of Pakistan and the region and maybe 20% Malala. I wonder if having her write the book at such a young age hampered the story, as there was not a lifetime of action behind her. While I enjoyed the history, I didn’t go into the book to hear about the formation of Pakistan, I was interested in hearing the words of Malala.
Malala is known around the world for having been shot in the head by the Taliban while attending school. A strident advocate for the right of all females to have access to education, she is an inspiring young woman. However, in hearing her story on how she got there, at times it felt like she was a pawn in her father’s education and political aspirations. Not many ten-year-olds can tell stories of their father bringing them to government meetings and encouraging them to speak. While undoubtably a very intelligent girl, I do not know if I can honestly say that the start of her educational platform was her desire, or her fathers. The other issue I had was in her stories of classmates and friends, Malala was frequently jealous or boastful. “On some shelves were all the gold-coloured plastic cups and trophies I had won for coming first in my class. Only twice had I not come top – both times when I was beaten by my class rival Malka e-Noor. I was determined it would not happen again.” I believe this can be attributed to the age of the author and would like to see her author an auto-biography at the end of her career to compare and contrast.
To sum it up, Malala is a voice the world needs to hear, as all children should be entitled to education. However, this memoir was primarily a history text with a few sprinkles of a young girl’s story, told at times in a very juvenile tone. I hope Malala is able to write a stronger version of her story once she has fully matured that focuses on her true mission.
Favorite lines – “Though we loved school, we hadn’t realized how important education was until the Taliban tried to stop us. Going to school, reading and doing our homework wasn’t just a way of passing time, it was our future.”