Author: Malala Yousafzai, Christina Lamb
I come from a country that was created at midnight. When I almost died it was just after midday.
When the Taliban took control of the Swat Valley in Pakistan, one girl spoke out. Malala Yousafzai refused to be silenced and fought for her right to an education.
On Tuesday, October 9, 2012, when she was fifteen, she almost paid the ultimate price. She was shot in the head at point-blank range while riding the bus home from school, and few expected her to survive.
Instead, Malala’s miraculous recovery has taken her on an extraordinary journey from a remote valley in northern Pakistan to the halls of the United Nations in New York. At sixteen, she has become a global symbol of peaceful protest and the youngest-ever Nobel Peace Prize laureate.
I Am Malala is the remarkable tale of a family uprooted by global terrorism, of the fight for girls’ education, of a father who, himself a school owner, championed and encouraged his daughter to write and attend school, and of brave parents who have a fierce love for their daughter in a society that prizes sons.
I Am Malala will make you believe in the power of one person’s voice to inspire change in the world.
Participating in the 2016 Monthly Motif Reading Challenge has been so far a good experience and has done me good by making me pick up books from my huge stack of tempted-to-bring-home-but-not-yet-read books. For the month of May I had to select a book under the motif “Story of Survival” and while going through my earlier mentioned stack, the picture of Malala Yousafzai staring at me from the cover made my job easy. So, for the month of May, MALALA it was!
There will be rarely a soul who had not heard about Nobel Prize for Peace winner Malala Yousafzai who had taken a bullet in her head from the Taliban just because she wanted to go to school & be educated and also her famous speech at the United Nations on her 16th birthday. But this book is about her life before that, how she reached that position, what she had to endure in her journey from Swat Valley in Pakistan to Birmingham, where she is currently pursuing her education.
The early part of the book deals with history and was more of an explanation for outsiders about how people misinterpret the teachings of the Prophet, how people are being misled for jihad and then how Taliban made an entry into their beautiful valley & lives. However, it soon delves deeper into the happenings & changes, in and around Malala and her family. This book made me thankful, once again, of the many things in my life, which I take for granted. I can only imagine how it must be to live a life under continuous gunshots, bombings and forever living under the fear of losing one’s loved ones to the unjust wrath of the Taliban; and being a kid in this kind of a scenario, can only be worse.
The best part of the entire story for me was the unstinting & continuous support of Malala’s parents, Ziauddin & Tor Pekai, for her education and also for that of the other children of the Swat Valley. It is only because of Ziauddin’s continuous efforts & support against all odds that Malala grew up to be such a strong-willed child who knew that it was not wrong to raise her voice for her & her friends’ right to education. Ziauddin realized the power of education and made no distinction between Malala and her brothers and provided equal opportunities to all three of them. He has played a significant role in making Malala what she is today. Malala’s mother, Tor Pekai, in spite of being uneducated herself, give the father-daughter duo all the support she could.
Malala’s story is both inspiring and emotional. The book takes us through a good amount of historical data about Pakistan, focussing more on her people, the Pashtuns and it was a good learning experience for me about them, their culture and many other aspects of their country as a whole.
I am ending my post with some excerpts from the book –
“Today we all know education is our basic right. Not just in the West; Islam too has given us this right. Islam says every girl and every boy should go to school. In the Quran it is written, God wants us to have knowledge. He wants us to know why the sky is blue and about oceans and stars … The Taliban could take our pens and books, but they couldn’t stop our minds from thinking.”
“Outside his office, my father had a framed copy of a letter written by Abraham Lincoln to his son’s teacher, translated into Pashto. It is a very beautiful letter, full of good advice. “Teach him, if you can, the wonder of books…But also give him quiet time to ponder the eternal mystery of birds in the sky, bees in the sun, and the flowers on a green hillside,” it says. “Teach him it is far more honorable to fail than to cheat.”
“We realize the importance of our voices only when we are silenced.”
“Let us pick up our books and our pens,” I said. “They are our most powerful weapons. One child, one teacher, one book and one pen can change the world.”
“If one man can destroy everything, why can’t one girl change it?”
“I don’t want to be thought of as the “girl who was shot by the Taliban” but the “girl who fought for education.” This is the cause to which I want to devote my life.”
Final Words:This is indeed a very powerful story of a strong-willed child that will never fail to inspire many like me!
Note:This review is linked to my 2016 Monthly Motif Reading Challenge & Goodreads Reading Challenge, 2016.