Book Review: I Am Malala

Friday, November 1, 2013


Written by Alice Lin

I Am Malala is an inspiring memoir of a 15 years old girl, Malala Yousafzai whom was shot in the head at point-blank range by the Taliban when she refused to be silenced and fought for her right to an education.

The book begins with Malala telling stories of everyday struggles and challenges in her hometown in Pakistan. She has faced these challenges since the day she was born as girls were not celebrated. Her mother and she would not be able to roam freely about town without being accompanied by a male relative, even if it was a five-year-old boy. Such was the tradition. Malala’s family would be considered untraditional in her country. Her father never laid a hand on her mother and they married for love as opposed to an arranged marriage. Her father took her to the school he opened and taught her how to read and write. His school also encouraged other girls in their town to attend. Still, when the girls went to school on the bus, they’d hide their books.

Her tone and voice in the book is eloquent, refined and firm, not something you really expected from somebody of that age. By the age of 11, Malala had already established herself as an advocate for girl’s education in Pakistan. Her fearlessness and courage came largely through the support of her father and other like-minded people in the country. In her memoir, she brings to light that Pakistan is a country of 300 languages, varied in cultures, religions and identities. But such diversity was not celebrated. Instead, groups fought for what they believed was their ideal image of being a Muslim in Pakistan.

One such group was the Taliban, whom targeted young Malala for ‘spreading secularism’. In her book, she recounted the public whippings, torture, and killings of those that the Taliban felt was against the Muslim religion. Indeed, she was afraid though not for herself…but her father. Who would be that cruel to target a young helpless child? On October 9, 2012, Malala was shot by a Taliban in the head while on the way to school. Despite the vicious attempt to silence the young girl, she survived.

Since the incident in 2012, Malala has gained recognition for her courage and advocacy. She is the youngest person ever nominated for a Nobel Peace Prize and continues to champion universal access to education through her non-profit organization called the Malala Fund. On her 16th birthday, Malala spoke at the United Nations Youth Assembly (Click to see her speech).

I am Malala, is a powerful book that I would encourage everyone to read. The book is another reminder, to take a step back and be thankful of what we have. More importantly, it gives you confidence to be able to create positive change. Even if you are just one person, you can inspire change in the world.

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