Published: October 8, 2013
Genres: Nonfiction, Biography, Memoir
Goodreads Rating: 4.01
My Rating: 5.0
Synopsis from Goodreads
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.
Since the fateful shooting back in 2012, Malala has been one of my idols. The shooting did not stop her message, but gave her a larger platform to spread her message. Malala doesn’t advocate for girls alone; her goal in life is to see that all children have the opportunity to go to school.
I’m not going to post a “Did/Not Like” section because, as a biography, I don’t think that’s a fair assessment. Instead, I’d like to just give a general rundown of what I thought with a few quotes in there that really stood out to me.
When Malala describes her attacker as, “a young man in light-colored clothes,” I was surprised. I always pictured the man to be in typical Taliban garb – black clothes, terrifying looking, just like in the comics posted on the internet (right). It never occurred to me that, to Malala, the young man on the bus was not a threat. The Taliban did not rush the bus, screaming, “Allahu Akbar,” and threatening everyone. After the shots were fired, the bus driver immediately rushed them to the hospital, where Malala’s months in the hospital began.
I’ve always had issues when people decide to take artistic license with history. Obviously some are “necessary” for the audience of the story, like Maus. Even that stuck to history in a way that a younger audience could appreciate. Art Spiegelman, the author of Maus, didn’t shy away from the harsh realities his father faced during the Holocaust, and it didn’t sugar coat or intensify scenes for shock value. This comic, however, seems to be perpetuating a stereotype about terrorists – that you’ll know one when you see one. The truth is, you won’t.
“My father said the Taliban presence in Swat was not possible without the support of some in the army and the bureaucracy. The state is meant to protect the rights of its citizens, but it’s a very difficult situation when you can’t tell the difference between state and non-state and can’t trust the state to protect you against non-state.
Our military and ISI are very powerful and most people did not like to voice these things publicly, but my father and many of his friends were not scared…. ‘A state is like a mother, and a mother never deserts or cheats her children.'”
Malala’s father is a constant source of reason in her life. Had she been born to different parents, her life could have changed in so many ways. It’s passages like the one above that show how much her father saw through the false promises of these militants and his own government. Living in the U.S., it’s so hard to understand how absolute the corruption is in countries like Pakistan. If more people around the world knew about it and were able to do more, it would help the people of Pakistan (and countries like it) more than wars would.
The more I read this book, the more I realized that education is the key to stopping terrorism. Terrorism is an idea, just like racism is. You cannot fight ideas physically; no matter how many people you kill or bombs you drop, you won’t be able to stop people’s thoughts. However, if you were to fully educate people against the ideas and ideals of terrorism, you wouldn’t just educate one person – you would educate whoever that person educated, be it their children, siblings, friends, or family members.
Malala has been an idol of mine for years, but only after reading her book did I begin to truly understand her message. This is a book I believe everyone should read. If you really want to help the people under the control of terror, you need to understand why terror came into power in the first place.