I am no fan of biographies. But I have read a few, if they were in sight and if there was nothing else to read. Maybe I wouldn’t have read this book too, if the girl on the cover hadn’t looked at me with her determined eyes, daring me to read. So I read “I am Malala”.
Though we are all aware of the atrocities that happen in that part of the world, to read someone’s experience in such circumstances is spine chilling. One can only imagine how it feels to live in constant fear, looking over one’s shoulders.
It is the story of Malala Yousafzai, the girl who fought relentlessly for her right to education and paid the price for it by being shot in the head while returning home from school.
The book “I am Malala” in Malala’s own words gives an insight into what is happening in Swat valley, Pakistan, where she grew up, and how people are affected by the atrocities of the Taliban. Her descriptions of how she enjoyed going to school, and how she had to fight for education of boys and girls, form the major part of the narrative in this book.
The book also shows her father Yousafzai’s love for his daughter, and his struggle to bring education to Swat valley by establishing the Khushal school, though he had to suffer much in the process. It is very evident from the book that parental support has helped Malala achieve so much, and if not for her father’s support, she would not have been able to go to school.
The book is interesting in its narrative and is not overly emotional. It states facts and gathers steam towards the second half where she recounts her interviews given to television and radio.
The final part is an account of how she was shot at and injured by the Taliban, shifted to four different hospitals, and finally ended up in a hospital in Birmingham. Presently she lives and goes to school in Birmingham.
This book was written before Malala won the Nobel Peace Prize for 2014.
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- The girl brims with self confidence in whatever she says and does.
- The child like innocence when she talks about her fights with fellow classmate and best friend Moniba.
- Her love for science which made her draw physics and chemistry symbols or formulae, while decorating her hands with henna.
- Her public stand on the need for education for girls.
- After her diary received attention, she believed that the pen and the words that came with it were more powerful than machine guns, tanks and helicopters.
- Gives us a peek into the beautiful Swat Valley, where we may not dare to venture.
- Gives us a first hand account of how terror reigned in a Taliban-ridden valley.
- Last, but not the least, is the contribution of Christina Lamb, who helped Malala to write this book.
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- Her grit to write a diary under the pseudonym ‘Gul Makai’, (meaning ‘corn flower’ – the name of the heroine of a Pashtun folk story). She wanted to write in her original name, but was dissuaded due to safety concerns. This shows her courage and spirit under such circumstances.
- Her insatiable love for learning.
- Her indomitable courage in expressing thoughts. For example, she expresses her opinion of the burqa – that it was fun to wear as a child while trying to dress up, but when made to wear it as a routine, it was a different matter – it made walking difficult.
- The statement of the Taliban, “To cure a disease before its onset is not in accordance with Sharia law” is appalling.
The Braveheart of Pakistan