Review: I Am Malala

I Am MalalaI Am Malala
By Malala Yousafzai
(Little, Brown and Co., Hardcover, 9780316322409, October 2013, 352pp.)

The Short of It:

Malala Yousafzai was just a young girl on a field trip for school when she was shot point-blank in the face. This book is about that day, the events leading up to it and the role it played in her struggle for education equality.

The Rest of It:

My book club selected this book back in January to be read in October. That was before Malala Yousafzai won the Nobel Peace Prize and before her gunman had been identified, so imagine our surprise when she was back in the news by the time we met to discuss the book. Timing, it’s everything.

I didn’t know much about Malala prior to reading this book. I do recall the shooting in 2012 and some of the details behind it, but other than that, not much. In case you’re like me, I’ll give you a little info. As a young girl, Malala lived in the Swat Valley, a province in Pakistan. Her father ran a school for both boys and girls but as you can imagine, most girls in that region were kept home to help around the house or married young to start their own families. Education was not a priority for young girls and Malala took it upon herself to make sure that young girls got the same education that boys did.

This presented a problem for her father. Threatened and told to close his doors, he began to worry about making ends meet. Without female students, he would not be able to keep his doors open. Knowing this, Malala did what she could to support education for all children and this angered many in their town, including the Taliban which eventually led to the attempt on her life. Amazingly, the gunshot wound to her head, did not cause permanent brain damage but called for quite a bit of physical therapy. This required her to be moved to a London hospital and after much discussion, a decision was made to move the rest of the family there as well.

Instead of being fearful of what could happen to her in the future, she used the events of that day to her advantage and became even more vocal, knowing that at some point the Taliban could succeed in taking her life. However, this mattered little to her. What mattered more, is that education be accessible to ALL who wanted it. Through her efforts, she’s been awarded numerous prizes for her humanitarian efforts. An impressive list but especially so given her young age.

I was surprised at how readable the book is. With every page, you are reminded of Malala’s youth. She’s a young girl like any young girl, watching popular TV shows and wanting to wear make-up and try new hairstyles. She’s very likable and the book is written simply, without a lot of historical background. This is a plus as well as a minus. A plus because almost anyone can read the book but a minus because if you are looking to learn more about that region of Pakistan or the Taliban itself, you won’t find it here.

Since this is not a book I would have normally picked up on my own, I was hoping to get a little more insight into that part of the country but even though I did not find it, I still enjoyed reading about this remarkable young woman.

Source: Borrowed
Disclosure: This post contains Indiebound affiliate links.

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15 thoughts on “Review: I Am Malala”

    1. There are two different versions… actually three if you count the children’s book so make sure don’t read the one geared towards YA.

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    1. I am impressed with her too but I have a confession, when reading the book it seemed that she was so young at the time, that she didn’t fully understand what she was up against. Her fearlessness was partially her being naive about the situation. I know this quickly changed but that was my first reaction.

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  1. Sounds like this is a well done story about a young girl’s experiences with the Taliban, et. al. I probably would want more background, but I’d still probably read this for her story too.

    1. You will miss the lack of historical references for sure. It’s still very readable but she chose to focus on her cause and not so much of what was going on in the background.

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  2. She’s such an amazing young woman. I admit to not having much interest in this book until recently (but before the Nobel Peace prize was announced). I do wish the book would go more into the region’s make up and background, but I am glad for the warning that it doesn’t. Less disappointment when I do read the book.

  3. She is an incredible inspiration, but in these cases, I always want to be completely immersed and pulled into all the detail. That just may not have been something that was her thing, and I applaud her for telling her story.

  4. I’ve thought about reading this one, but wasn’t too sure. I think I’d like more info about that region as well – seems like it would be beneficial to her story. However, she is a remarkable young woman and I do think I’d find her book to be inspiring, so I think I will give it a read.

    1. There are many versions of the book too. I think her point was to reach young readers so I am glad that your son’s class chose to read it. There’s even a picture book!

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  5. I was wondering about this one for my book club. Sounds like we’d enjoy something where we could learn more but I think I may still pick it up.

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