Malala Yousafzai and her struggle for education for women in Pakistan was launched into the international spotlight when she was shot in the head by the Taliban and survived. I Am Malala is her story of growing up in a Pakistan that slowly morphed into a unrecognizable country under an religious extremist government.
When the Taliban moved into Pakistan they began severely limiting the rights of women, preferring them to be neither seen or heard and disallowing girls from going to school. Malala is a typical girl who likes to read as much as she likes doing her hair. She is also incredibly intelligent thanks in part to a father who values education and whose life ambition was to run a school. Besides owning the school Malala attended and fostering a desire to learn, her father encouraged her speaking out about girl’s schooling in a public forum.
“Education is education. We should learn everything and then choose which path to follow.” Education is neither Eastern nor Western, it is human.”
After Malala was shot she was taken to a hospital in Birmingham to receive more specialized intensive care. She was separated from her family during the early days of her hospital stay and, after waking up from her coma, was fearful she’d never see them or Swat again. Her family was luckily able to join her in England where she hasn’t let her fear of another attack stop her continued fight for girl’s education.
This book was published about one year after Malala was shot and it lead to a sort of rushed feeling of all the events. Clearly they wanted to capitalize on her global popularity following her attack as well as her Nobel Peace Prize nomination but I wonder what Malala’s memoir would look like today. She’s an adult now who has spent the last five years in the spotlight including winning a Nobel Peace Prize (but not the one she was nominated for at the end of this book) for her efforts which seems like the better time to write a book. While this wasn’t the book I hoped it would be it was still an engaging memoir by an extraordinary woman. A lot of the criticism I saw regarding I Am Malala is how one sided the argument is but, ignoring the fact that Malala hasn’t been to Pakistan since her attempted assassination, I don’t think Malala set out to play Devil’s Advocate against the Taliban!