Book Review: I Am Malala

I Am MalalaI Am Malala: The girl who stood up for education and was shot by the Taliban

By: Malala Yousafzai with Christina Lamb

I Am Malala is the memoir of one of the world’s most famous teenagers even though she is not in films and does not have a new album coming out. Malala Yousafzai is one of few young people internationally renowned for her social activism.

I Am Malala was written after Malala was shot in the head by the Taliban on her way home from school. She was targeted because of her participation with her father in advocating for better access to education for girls in Pakistan. She currently lives with her family in Birmingham, UK which is where she was treated for her injuries.

The book provides a glimpse at the history of Pakistan which helps the reader to better understand the political situation in which Malala has lived. It can be easy to forget that there are individual people behind the headlines about the Taliban and drone attacks, but this book reminds the reader of the humans that are involved in the politics of the Middle East.

Pakistan was the world’s first Islamic nation, established in 1947. After years of political unrest and bouncing back and forth between democracy and dictatorship, Pakistan has become known for the presence of Taliban, particularly in the northern regions.

Malala grew up in Swat in northern Pakistan, a region she describes as a natural paradise. When Malala began attending school, she could walk to school freely and proudly. But over ten short years, she has had to change what she wears to school, hide her books, enter the school only through a private entrance, and eventually stop attending altogether.

To hear the story of Pakistan’s experience of the Taliban from this teenaged girl is at times infuriating. The stories of competing with her classmates and watching TV with her brothers show us that Malala is like millions of other children around the world. Why would such a girl seem to be a threat to an international terrorist group? However, Malala’s international blogging at age 11 and meeting with politicians to expand girls’ education also show us how exceptional she is. It also shows us the power of education which is precisely why the Taliban tried to kill Malala.

In Canada, it is easy to take public education for granted. It is not dangerous to promote education or attend school here. In fact, we’re more likely to complain about the systems we have! I Am Malala is a reminder to us all of the power of education and the important role it plays, not only in our country but in every country for every child. Because of the power of education, it is important that we support education for all whenever we get the chance.

I Am Malala appeals to many different readers. There is something here for history buffs, politicos, educators, social activists, teenagers, multi-culturalists, and anyone who enjoys a good memoir. The appeal of the book is broad which is very important because the message is one that all people need to hear and keep in mind. When Malala addressed the UN on her 16th birthday, July 12, 2013, she said “We cannot all succeed when half of us are held back.” While addressing the need for peace and education, I Am Malala emphasizes that gender equality and the equal empowerment of all women and men, boys and girls is essential for a better world. The solution for many social and political problems begins with education for all. “One child, one teacher, one pen and one book can change the world. Education is the only solution. Education first.”

I Am Malala is available through the Pinawa Public Library.

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