I Am Malala: The Girl Who Stood Up for Education and Was Shot by the Taliban by Malala Yousafzai and Christina Lamb

“One year ago I left my home for school and never returned.”

Today, Malala’s name traveling from one article to another, both in printed and digital form. She becomes one of the trending topics of the world’s latest news as few weeks ago she’s just got a Nobel Peace Prize award and becomes the youngest winner of all time.

Review below may contain spoilers

I read I Am Malala about a month before she got the award. And when I was reading it, I thought, “This girl would mean a lot for the world.” I could feel her bravery through the words as she was very outspoken, and even though she had lived in a “war” time, she did not step back because she knew she did nothing wrong.

“She just wanted to go to school, for heaven’s sake. What was wrong with these people.” These two words were my only review on Goodreads.

This is Taliban we’re speaking here, an organization as defined by Wikipedia as “an Islamic fundamentalist political movement” based in Afghanistan who dictated the country, and Pakistan, with their own made-up interpretation of Islam. They murdered countless of innocent children, women, and civilians who did not obediently follow their orders. And Malala, bravely, stood up to question, and even to be against with whatever orders they commanded.

Co-written with a foreign correspondent, Christina Lamb, I Am Malala moves every heart who reads the story.

Who is Malala?”

From the title, we actually have a clear idea that this book would tell us how and why Malala got shot by the Taliban in 2012. However, this book provides much more than that. In the beginning, the readers are not directly introduced to Malala and her family, but instead it describes Pakistan’s past history and the beauty of Malala’s hometown, Swat, with its indescribable moving valley and mountains. It even tells the story of her father’s, from a boy from a remote village into a school owner/headmaster and a human rights activist, just like Malala.

I may say that Malala’s courage and concern in education and human rights are pretty much influenced by her father. He is a great speaker, and from zero he built a school to help children to pursue their dreams. And yes, the school itself was Malala’s father dream-came-true.

Malala was raised in a moderate family who believed that every girl and boy had the same opportunity to get education and to go to school. Unfortunately, Malala’s mother was illiterate, but she was very outspoken as well and supported education for her children and children in Pakistan. Behind Malala and her father’s back, there was always her mother.

Malala was a bright girl, she would study hard to do the best and to be the best in her class. She even competed with her friend to get the first rank. However, when the Taliban came to Pakistan, her world turned upside down. Eventually, Taliban forced girl’s schools to close and forcibly retreated the girls from school to stay at home.

The situation worsened when death threats came to her family. She and her father had been widely known that they were against the Taliban, their stories and activities had been published in media, like in radio, and it made them were more easily to be targeted. Despite the life-threatening situation, they kept having speeches and activities to defend their school and children’s education. Malala had suffered from sleepless nights, when she was scared that one of the Taliban armies would come to her home.

“We were scared, but our fear was not as strong as our courage.”

Gradually, the number of pupils, especially girls, in the school was declining. People were scared to even leave their home. Until finally, they were forced to flee, being refugees in their own country.

After some time, Malala went back to Swat and insisted to go to school even though people surrounded her said that it was not safe. After all, she was Malala, whom the Taliban had been searching for.

One day, when she rode a school bus on the way home, the bus was stopped by the Taliban army who asked, “Who is Malala?” and the scene happened so fast, he fired three shots, three girls were injured, but none of them were killed.

One of them is Malala.

My comments:

#1 The history of Pakistan, its political background and situation gave brief explanation to me, as a reader with no single knowledge in its history. It helped me much in understanding its background, its people, and its culture as I internalized Malala’s story. It made everything’s intertwined from the general idea of the Pakistan’s situation to the specific story of Malala, and how those conflicts affected her life and inflamed her spirits to stand up.

#2 Her co-writing with Christina Lamb enriched the text. It told Malala’s story from her point of view. However, in some parts, Malala “lost” her own voice. I know that its intention was to introduce and explain Pakistan’s past and current political background, but it perhaps might have been too “heavy” to be absorbed by children and young readers. I don’t know who the actual target readers were, but considering Malala’s age (now 17, 16 when she was writing the book), young readers might have wanted to give it a try too, knowing that a girl around their ages was one of the world’s figures in education for children.

#3 I’ve watched Malala’s speech videos when she was in the UN right after she recovered and in Nigeria, regarding the hundreds of kidnapped girls by Boko Haram. From her voice, I could hear that she was fearless, and it was terrific and gave me chills. After standing up against Taliban, she also confronted the Boko Haram in an open forum. It took guts, huh?

#4 I’m not exaggerating, but Malala changes the way I think and do. Even a tiny little bit, I want to help and be worthy for at least the ones surround me. And I believe that’s also everyone’s dream. She’s five years younger than me, but I am waaay too far behind her in many aspects. I haven’t done something good for humanities. No, not yet. She’s my muse, and she is an inspiration to the world.

Featured image from here.

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