File Name: I Am Malala: The Story of the Girl Who Stood Up for Education and Was Shot by the Taliban
Author : Malala Yousafzai , Christina Lamb
ISBN : 9780316322409
Format : Hardcover 327 pages
Genre : Nonfiction, Biography, Autobiography, Memoir, Feminism, History, Biography Memoir, Audiobook, Politics, Education,
Rating: it was amazing
Reading this book reminded me of how much I take for granted every day: Freedom of speech. Freedom of religion. The freedom to go to the store without needing a male escort. And the ability to get an education, regardless of gender.
"I was a girl in a land where rifles are fired in celebration of a son, while daughters are hidden away behind a curtain, their role in life simply to prepare food and give birth to children."
Malala, who is now 16, is an outspoken advocate for girls to have the same right to go to school as boys. In her native Pakistan, she lost that ability when the Taliban took over: "I was 10 when the Taliban came to our valley ... It seemed to us that the Taliban arrived in the night just like vampires. They appeared in groups, armed with knives and Kalashnikovs ... They looked so dark and dirty and that my father's friend described them as 'people deprived of baths and barbers.'"
The Taliban started bombing schools and decreed that girls couldn't get an education. Malala's father was a school principal and encouraged her to speak out. She was only 15 at the time, but threats were made against her and her family. And in October 2012, when she was riding the school bus with her friends, a man with a gun climbed aboard the vehicle and shot Malala in the head.
Amazingly, Malala survived the bullet and was able to recover. She and her family currently live in England, but Malala writes about how much she misses her home country and wishes she could return to be with her friends. Her graciousness was such that she did not wish revenge on her attacker, and instead prays for peace.
"I thank Allah for the hardworking doctors, for my recovery and for sending us to this world where we may struggle for our survival. Some people choose good ways and some choose bad ways. One person's bullet hit me. It swelled my brain, stole my hearing and cut the nerve of my left face in the space of a second. And after that one second there were millions of people praying for my life and talented doctors who gave me my body back. I was a good girl. In my heart I had only the desire to help people."
Malala's story is both heartbreaking and inspiring. I admire her courage and her tenacity, and also hope that her country will one day find peace. "Why are we Muslims fighting with each other? ... We should focus on practical issues. We have so many people in our country who are illiterate, and many women have no education at all. We live in a place where schools are blown up. We have no reliable electricity supply. Not a single day passes without the killing of at least one Pakistani."
The book is lovingly written, and I also appreciated her stories about the history of Pakistan and her people, the Pashtuns. While reading the book I realized that I knew more about the history of other countries in the region, such as Afghanistan, Iran and India, than I did about Pakistan, and it was very informative. I would highly recommend the book to anyone interested in women's rights, current events, history or inspirational memoirs.
"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."
Update October 2014:
I was thrilled to hear that Malala had been awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for her humanitarian work. I have recommended this book to numerous people in the past year, and am still amazed by her courage. Three cheers for Malala!
Rating: liked it
Just to be clear, the rating is for the book not the person Malala herself. I read this quickly whilst on holidays and was keen to find out more about her story after seeing a short tv piece just before leaving home. I think her story is amazing and her courage remarkable, her plight and vision inspiring but the book itself I found to be an odd mix of political and historical fact and personal reflections that didn't quite gel for me. Still a worthy read and I really appreciated the insight into the young girls life with her family. I can see that the historical documentation that was added, presumably by the other author, is there to inform people like me who have a flimsy grasp on the political events and motivations of power brokers in that region of the world, however I found Malala's personal account to be much more interesting and think the book would have done better with a different angle that focused on just her story or even told the political through her eyes or words...I found myself wondering sometimes "who am I listening to here?" and feeling a little as if I was being coerced into forming a political opinion based on the interpretations being offered in the factual accounts.
Rating: it was amazing
Being a fellow Muslim, I was indeed intrigued and awed by the courage of this young girl who is brave enough to state out what is wrong with her country and strive for education to be available for all.
Coming from a country where education is a main priority and females over populated the men in schools,colleges and universities, I was indeed aghast to discovered that in certain parts of the world, women are being treated as second class citizens. It brought a tear to my eyes, how Malala and her friends struggled to continue their education despite the horrors of war, earthquake and ongoing power struggle between the military and the Islamic militants in Pakistan. Certainly Malala owed much of her courage from her own father who is an education activist and is the owner of a private school. Their family background and details about the Swat Valley is described vividly in the book and readers get to know more about the places that she have lived and been to.
This book should be given out to every teens so that they would realised how important an education is and not to think of schooling so lightly. I felt so grateful to be able to live in a country where although the majority are Muslims, the women are not banned from attending schools and told to stay at homes to serve the men. Thank you, Malala for bringing attention to your plight. Isn't it ironic that instead of silencing Malala with the gunshot, the Taliban instead have given her an even bigger voice that have been heard the world over.
Rating: it was ok
I really wanted to love this book. I don't think anyone can deny the difficulties this girl has faced or the impact she has had on the world. However, the book reads like an odd jumble of Pakistani history, politics, and personal experience that never quite comes together into a cohesive narrative. The first few chapters are very inconsistent and meander all over the place with no clear destination; it sounds more like a collection of memories or family stories interspersed with factual information about Pakistan and the history of the Swat valley, and I had a very difficult time staying engaged and keeping track of the many people mentioned. The story becomes a little more streamlined as Yousafzai starts to recount her older childhood years leading up to the banning of education for girls, but I still had issues with the writing. This is one of the more egregious examples, but I think it captures the serious need for editing: "The new girls had horrible stories. Ayesha told us how one day on the way home from Sangota she had seen a Taliban holding up the severed head of a policeman by its hair, blood dripping from the neck. The Sangota girls were also very bright, which meant more competition. One of them, Rida, was excellent at making speeches." (p.144). It is certainly inspirational to hear Yousafzai's and her father's stories about speaking up in defiance of politicians, local mullahs, and the Taliban, but I think many readers might lose interest trying to follow the disjointed narrative. The book feels like it was really rushed, which is a serious shame. Someone this brave and interesting deserves a better book.
Rating: it was ok
I could not be bothered with negative comments. So, get on with your life. Just ignore the review if you think I write negatively.
I don't want to raise some sentiments here, so if your comments got deleted, like I wrote earlier, get on with your life.
Edited to include what I have wrote earlier in my comments on 4 December '13:
I do feel that this autobiography should have waited for a few years for Malala to have a much more distinctive voice.
Unfortunately, this was muted by the co author.
OK shoot me!
I actually hated this book, because the co-author named Christina Lamb actually used 3/4 of the book and sensationalise everything. EVERYTHING! That is why I am giving 2 stars for the 3/4 of the first part of the book. And this co-author put on dates and tragedies and events and it was like, I am in war all over.
I actually enjoyed Malala Yousafzai retelling, on her father's dream, on her school, on her daily life. But when the other author start saying Pakistan is bad all over, oh hey, I got quite a few friends who are studying for their qualifications in the UK, and they turned out quite well. And they are men, and not Talibans.
I know Talibans are wrong because they stop the girls for going to school and be educated. But there are some people who are not bad. The way Christina Lamb painted that all Pakistanis are violent (that's the vibes here) makes me want to smack her. I am a Muslim, BTW, and this co-author who is living in London is trying to say Muslims are bad.. oh heck.
But for the second part, 1/4 of the book, it will be 3 stars. This is because Malala's voice has become more prominent later in the book. And I do love and enjoy her stories after she survived that Taliban shooting in her school bus.
OK if I can survive this auto biography, maybe I will survive other horrid books.
Rating: it was amazing
These days it seems like our world is a giant game of telephone. Any news story or online gossip you hear is hard to believe because it has been skewed so much since it left the source. It is refreshing and enlightening to hear a story straight from the source - especially on the topic of life in the Middle East which is always quickly demonized in America. By experiencing Malala's story, it gives a true face to the people of Pakistan who are mostly wanting peace and prosperity, not oppression and terror.
I highly recommend this book to anyone who only has views of the world from the news and social media. Seeing how the war on terror in the Middle East was experienced by a child on the front lines is pretty amazing. I thought my teenage drama was hard here in the United States, but what Malala and her countrymen and women went through is humbling. In fact, I think the story of this book can be of value to anyone living today who feels like they are far away from the terror or that they are better than people from other countries. For every terrorist, there are hundreds of people just like us.
5 stars all the way - let's just hope other books like this stop having to be written because people are being terrorized and having their rights threatened. The more people that read this and don't take it with a grain of salt, the closer we will all be to a better world.
Rating: did not like it
---The people who are bashing me, Kindly take a look at the quotes or in the comment section. After some of the gif-y juvenile opinions, the discussion is rather educating.
---Why did you write an emotionally manipulative story specifically directed at international readers and compelling them to feel sorry about a nation using the lethal weapon of exaggeration and one sided execution of truth.I always thought why Malaala and not someone else as everything about your story is neat.Too neat.You might be a fugitive for all I care but why ruin an already bad reputation by pointing out all the controversial issues of the last 20 years about a country you claim to love.I'm not even a religious or patriotic person but after reading your sobstory I feel like becoming one by kindly pointing out all the BS.I expected you to be a peacemaker not a pacemaker,Since you won a Nobel prize for peace.You made me fight with a lot of people(who don't know the first thing about Pakistan just like I still don't know what the hell Starbucks is).(view spoiler)[JK Justin Bieber explained that all in baby (hide spoiler)] Aren't All the "ugly truths" you like pointing out so very much subjective matters and cant be explained as one liners.So, I want to be mean to you because you make my whole existence look bad.
You are a show off:(
--We don't need to know about how high and mighty and how different from every girl you are in like every chapter.You wrote an autobiography at 16,Please let us judge for ourselves.
*‘Don’t you think she is meant for the skies?’
*‘Malala is not just the daughter of Ziauddin,’ they would say; ‘she is the daughter of all of us.’
*‘Malala is free as a bird.’
*On some shelves were all the gold-coloured plastic cups and trophies I had won for coming first in my class. Only twice had I not come top – both times when I was beaten by my class rival Malka e-Noor. I was determined it would not happen again.
*‘Malala was a lucky girl,’ says Hidayatullah. ‘When she was born our luck changed.
*My parents say I have qualities of both grandfathers – humorous and wise like my mother’s father and vocal like my father’s father!
Why do you hate
the army everyone except the Bhutto-Zardari clan?
*My country may not be very old but unfortunately it already has a history of military coups, and when my father was eight a general called Zia ul-Haq seized power. There are still many pictures of him around. He was a scary man with dark panda shadows around his eyes, large teeth that seemed to stand to attention and hair pomaded flat on his head. He arrested our elected prime minister, Zulfikar Ali Bhutto, and had him tried for treason then hanged from a scaffold in Rawalpindi jail. Even today people talk of Mr Bhutto as a man of great charisma. They say he was the first Pakistani leader to stand up for the common people, though he himself was a feudal lord with vast estates of mango fields. His execution shocked everybody and made Pakistan
look bad all around the world. --------->Isn't that exactly what you are doing.
*Thanks to President Zardari and his family, whose love and
care kept me strong.------>This was in the acknowledgements section.
I won't be surprised at all if she ends up getting married to Bilawal Bhutto Zardari and having his 2.5 kids,You know.
*One day I will be a politician and do these things myself.--------->OH MY GAWD *blink blink*
Now people think we are discriminating:(
*We are a country of 180 million and more than 96 per cent are Muslim. We also have around two million Christians and more than two million Ahmadis, who say they are Muslims though our government says they are not. Sadly those minority communities are often attacked.
*The most important jobs in the army, bureaucracy and government are all taken by Punjabis because they come from the biggest and most powerful province.(maybe because Punjab has the largest population and education to population ratio)
Thanks to you now everyone thinks Pakistan is illiterate:(
*‘I agree that female teachers should educate girls,’ he said. ‘But first we need to educate our girls so they can become teachers!
Anyone living in Pakistan can see how false this statement is since majority of the teachers are women here.
* The boys learn the Quran by heart, rocking back and forth as they recite. They learn that there is no such thing as science or literature, that dinosaurs never existed and that man never went to the moon.
Do you have something against Pakistani Doctors?
*In our country few doctors bother explaining anything to an illiterate woman.
*In fact the Pakistani doctors had shaved my head with no mercy.
TO BE HONEST I CAN FIND A THOUSAND FAULTS, BUT I'M TOO TIRED AND I'M GLAD THIS MENTAL ABUSE IS OVER.
P.S if you've some time, Read this fellow goodreader's review
Rating: did not like it
Being resident of the area, Valley of Swat, where she lived (basically she is from the adjoining District Shangla whence her father came to Swat and established private school), I find the authenticity of the most of events described and actions claimed hard to believe (as do almost all the residents).
First there is the question of Local Talibans forcing girls from going to schools. That is not true. I was, as everyone else, a regular listener of the Taliban's daily half an hour or so long FM radio broadcast and they only verbally 'forced' girls to wear proper veils when going to school, which was hardly an enforcement as the local culture is already extremely conscious of the 'veil' (Mala herself wears a scarf). However, to my knowledge they 'encouraged' girls to leave 'western' schools but they 'claimed' that after installing an Islamic government here in the area, they would set up proper 'exemplary' girls schools. In fact, in the local tribal society it is unthinkable to 'force' a woman or girl from doing or not doing something as it is tantamount to man-handling them, which is, frankly speaking, a sure way to get killed or beaten not only by relatives (distant or near) of the woman/girl but anyone who is nearby. Anyone here can testify to fact that on various occasions many 'individual' talibans were mercilessly beaten up by locals when they spoke to shopping women reproachfully. Additionally, the Talibans were locals (later they were joined by savages from central Asian region and Afghanistan but they kept to themselves) and they never held absolute power here.. As opposed to the official stance, the people of Swat never left their homes when Talibans were in control, as a matter of fact, they were 'forced' to leave when army started the operation by the army.
Secondly, Talibans were never in control of the city where Malala resided for so long as to impose their alleged rule. They entered the city in early May ( I was there buying DVDs with friends) by then the impending military operation had already caused educational institutions to close indefinitely. A week or ten days after the 'invasion' of the city (they, despite the hype, actually numbered not more than two or two and a half dozen who 'occupied' few private buildings and hotels) army entered the city. In any case, people started to leave the city after Taliban 'invasion' for fear of artillery and aerial bombardment by the army. Therefore, it highly unlikely that there were any female students still going to schools. This 'timing' problems also exist in her 'diary', dated January & February, which records the 'incidents' on her way to school. Valley Swat is officially a 'Winter Zone' and all educational institutions are closed for winter vacation on the 25th of December to 1st of March.
Thirdly, no one is aware of anyone raising their voice for the general cause of girls education at any point during the uprising in any way or on any forum (since there was nothing as such called for). However, I personally am aware of two occasions where a relative(s), affiliated with the Talibans, tried to stop daughters or sisters of close relatives from going to school and were physically forced to abstain from any such acts in the future.
I personally do not wish to malign anyone's reputation, especially not that of the adorable yet unfortunate Malala whose courage and personality I admire. However, as the history is been written, I would disapprove of any one who may, innocently, inadvertently or deliberately, represent truth in a distorted form. We were unfortunate enough to have had Talibans forced upon us, let us not be burdened with half-truths and tarnished representation.
I am not alone in these perception, everyone share them here. That was the reason that the students of prime Girls College in the city here refused their college to be named after Mala.. In fact, the allegedly' repressed young girls vociferously protested out the college any such decision that forced the army and official authorities to relent.
I am led to understand that there is a 'Malala Fund' with millions of dollars with the aim to spread girls education in my area.. May I respectfully ask when would a dollar from that money be spent here for the cause?
Rating: it was amazing
I absolutely loved this book. I have been following this story ever since Malala Yousafzai was shot and articles about her began to appear on CNN.com. I was always captivated by the way Malala spoke in interviews before she was attacked: I simply loved the sound of her voice and the sight of her face, which seemed to shine with her spirit. She might not think she is beautiful, but to me she is stunning. I adore the bright colors she wears and the liquid wonder of her eyes.
It was difficult to read about the shameful, cowardly attack on her, from her own POV. I empathized so much that it was painful to hear the details--some of which she could only describe as being what was told to her about the shooting.
On the other hand, I will always remember one statement she made. "A Talib fires three shots at point-blank range at three girls in a van and doesn’t kill any of them . . . I know God stopped me from going to the grave. It feels like this life is a second life. People prayed to God to spare me, and I was spared for a reason— to use my life for helping people."
It will always give me chills to think that it is amazing indeed that a Talib gunman fired three bullets, intending to kill one young girl--and that, unbelievably, he failed. I find it very hard to argue with the idea that Malala was, in fact, spared for a reason.
The parts I enjoyed most about this autobiography were the beginning and end, where Malala speaks about her home, the Swat Valley, and everything that she loved and was proud about there: from her amazing father who, unlike most Pashtuns, celebrated when his wife gave birth to a daughter, to her best friend Moniba, with whom she giggled and played with, and who was also her rival for top of the class at at Kahshul School.
When Malala described an ordinary day in her old life, fighting with her younger brothers, listening to the village women who would gather at her mother's in the afternoon, I was absolutely charmed. It seemed that there was no ghostwriter and that I could hear Malala's voice speaking the words aloud as clearly as I had heard her speak on videos about her mission to help all girls, everywhere, get an education. I was fascinated to read that Malala was named after the brave Malalai of Maiwand, the greatest heroine of Afghanistan, and startled and concerned to read about the Pashtunwali code, by which all Pashtuns live, which deals with honor, but which demands revenge in kind for any attack or killing and can lead to never-ending blood-feuds easily.
When it came to the terrifying attack and all that happened in its aftermath, I was glued to the book, reading page after page with breath-snatching speed. There was so much that I had never even imagined: the suffering of her parents after the shooting, the story of how they worried about ever seeing their daughter again once Malala was airlifted to England. I think that any reader from ten years on up could read and be just as captivated as I was. Although many parts of this story brought tears to my eyes I couldn't stop reading, and although I knew that Malala would make it I was white-knuckled while I learned about the details of her medical treatment.
The only part that seemed to bog down was the middle of the book, where Malala describes many political events in her homeland. In these it seemed that Malala’s voice was obscured and I rather quickly got lost in the details of which leader promised what and how this or that man became corrupt and never came through on their promises.
Even if you just skim through this part, the book is most definitely worth reading. I came to love Malala even more dearly than I could have imagined, and to admire and even envy the bond she had with her father, the man who was determined to open a school in which girls could be educated. I couldn't help but feel great affection for all Malala's family, her people, and everything in the beautiful valley she misses as she lives in exile.
I was hoping that Malala would win the Nobel Peace prize this year, not out of pity for someone who was a survivor of a hideous attack, but simply because I believe she has had an amazing effect on the world. She has brought together people from all over the globe in a way that I believe will have profound implications for the key to a better life for women in countries where it is currently against the law for girls to have a true education. I also thought that it would be stunning if the Nobel committee acknowledged that a teenager—a teenage girl—could have had so great a role in making people of different cultures understand each other.
But Malala has plenty of time, and I have no doubt that she will distinguish herself again and again with her moving speeches, her gentle, stubborn nature, and her unique view of life in years to come. I hope that there will be more books by Malala in the future about why education is so important for girls around the world.
Finally, I would like to say “Wah wah” to Malala about the entire autobiography. She says that this is what one says when a particular line or stanza of a poem pleases you, and is a bit like “Bravo.” Wah wah and Bravissima to Malala.
Rating: liked it
I would ask all those Pakistanis who are making the book controversial through over-sensationalized and misplaced critiques:
1. Please remove the lenses of bigotry and prejudice and read the book in a casual way. Its not a great book so comparisons with Anne Frank's diary are perhaps out of proportion. However, I would hate to speculate that it might be considered a great classic if Pakistan continues on its usual disastrous course and experience a people's tragedy comparable to holocaust. This in my humble yet optimistic view is impossible, God willing.
2. It is not even a well-written work either; understandably so, since its from a young girl. Its just an ad lib commentary by a 16 year old girl which is most probably composed by Christina Lamb in readable English. Our so-called second grade media intellectuals who have issues with Lamb's reputation, well Yousufzai is not synonymous with Lamb. At least try to add a minimum possible of degree of objectivity in your criticism.
3. When you quote, please do so with the purpose of discussion and critique rather than ridicule. Please learn to read and understand the texts. They are meaningless and misleading without a context. Those who are calling it interpretation of her father's ideas, well what if I may ask is wrong with that? All 16-year olds think their fathers are cool. We, as fathers and mothers, have right to impart our version of goodness into our children. We may disagree with each others' views but disagreeing with other's interpretation of history, politics and social issues doesn't make one anti-Islam or anti-Pakistan.
4. It might be a very interesting work for western audience, specially when Lamb ostensibly lets Yousafzai speak (in my view Lamb has added historical and political bits to it where necessary for coherence of discourse), but have very little for Pakistani reader in terms of engagement with the text. However, what you must understand is that you are reading a very brave girl who can stand eye-to-eye with adversity and horrors in conditions where most of us would end up compromising with our liberty or would simply run away. She is a brave girl, mentored and taught life by an audacious father. We must be proud of her and listen her carefully since we have a young hero towards whom we can point our children to look-up to.
Lastly, lets try to read the same book the author has intended to write; please don't end up reading the book which you intend to criticize, apriori
Rating: really liked it
This is a powerful story about a child, but with topical, global relevance.
The media is full of alarming reports of extremists of all religions, across the globe. Finding perspective can be hard, especially for non-believers, and it’s important to balance valid criticism and condemnation with avoiding the suggestion that all followers of a faith are mad, bad, or dangerous to know.
So it’s good to read a positive portrayal not just of a religious person, but a Muslim one. The fact she is young, female, and influential is all the better.
Who Is Malala?
People around the world know her by her first name. They know she campaigned for the right of girls to attend school, initially via an anonymous blog on BBC Urdu (aged 11). That she was shot in the head by the Taliban and eventually airlifted to hospital in Birmingham, UK - a city where she and her family currently live. That she has a very close relationship with her father. That she spoke at the UN on her 16th birthday. That when she was joint winner of the Nobel Peace Prize in 2014, she was the youngest Nobel laureate. That she’s a devout Muslim. That she’s a giggler.
That, I knew. I read this to understand, especially why Ziauddin (her father) is so enlightened about women and their education; how and why Malala became a campaigner so young; the role and opinion of Tor Pekai (her illiterate mother); and her two younger brothers, Kushal and Atal, raised in a culture that favours boys and men, but perpetually in the shadow of their sister.
I learned the chronology, and a fair bit about Pashtun culture, the natural beauty of Swat, recent Pakistani political history, Taliban tactics, and the difficulty of living as a displaced person at home and abroad.
I discovered that Malala loves Cheesy Wotsits, Justin Bieber, Ugly Betty, styling her hair, Twilight, halal KFC, gently teasing her father, high(ish) heels, pink, and squabbling with the elder of her younger brothers. She’s proud of her academic prizes because she earned them, but has mixed feelings about the others, because they remind her of how much still needs to change.
She comes across as a charming mixture of serious and light-hearted, mature and child-like, loyal to her heritage, but open to other ideas and influences. The perfect example was doing henna hand tattoos using symbols from chemistry and calculus, rather than the traditional flowers and butterflies.
But I still don’t feel I really understand the family themselves.
Who are Tor Pekai and Ziauddin?
Theirs was, unusually, a love match, rather than an arranged marriage.
Tor Pekai may be uneducated and in the background, but “My mother comes from a family of strong women” and Ziauddin always shares information and decisions with her. He’s the dreamer; she’s the practical one. After Malala had been airlifted to the UK and the family were battling bureaucracy to join her, it was Tor Pekai’s threatened hunger strike that got things slowly moving.
Ziauddin apparently overcame a childhood stammer by determination and public speaking. He was conscious of his preferential treatment for being a boy, particularly in terms of education, and felt that was wrong. He was briefly radicalised in his youth, but going away to college when Benazir Bhutto was PM, he discovered “women who had greater freedom and were not hidden away as in in his own village.” That seems insufficient explanation for founding a chain of schools against extraordinary odds, and speaking out against governments and terrorists. “It was my grandmother’s faith in my father that gave him the courage to find his own proud path.” Hmm.
Whose Voice, Whose Truth?
The more significant biographies will be written decades hence, but until then, this is an important and readable book, and I don’t want to diminish that. It is by Malala in conjunction with journalist, Christina Lamb. The writing can be a little uneven and plodding, I sometimes lost track of how old Malala was, and it’s not always clear to what extent her thoughts and words are really hers, or have been modulated, moderated or embroidered.
Maybe it doesn’t matter. When the Islamic studies teacher couldn’t be trusted, her father advised, “Learn the literal meaning of the [Arabic] words; don’t follow his explanations and interpretations. Only learn what God says. His words are divine messages, which you are free to interpret.”
There’s a fair bit of mythologizing. “My father always said ‘Malala will be free as a bird’ but I wondered how free a daughter could ever be.” She was always special: the family’s luck changed after her birth, omens abound etc. “All children are special to their parents, but to my father I was his universe” – he had a wife and two other children!
But given Malala’s life and stature on the word stage, mythologizing is perhaps inevitable and even appropriate. But.
Although feted around the world, Malala remains a controversial figure in the country she loves, and to which she repeatedly and firmly says she wants to return.
The extremists think her a puppet of the west, and too liberal in her interpretation of Islam. Even moderates dislike her for symbolising bad aspects of their country, and think her hypocritical for living in greater comfort abroad (as if it were her choice).
The Pakistani government created the role of Educational Attaché in the UK for Ziauddin so the family would have income and diplomatic passports - and, crucially, not be eligible to claim asylum in the UK (which would make Pakistan look bad).
“We might be the world’s best-treated refugees.” The Yousafzai family may live in greater material comfort now, but the pain and loneliness of their new lives, especially for Tor Pekai, is made plain.
It’s not safe for Malala and her family to return to Swat at the moment. Meanwhile, she’s receiving an excellent education at an academically-selective private girls’ school in Birmingham - a city with a large population of Pakistani heritage. She’s two years older than the other girls in her class, but doing well, after the initial shock of no longer being effortlessly at the top of the class. I assume her brothers are receiving a similar education.
After that, there is speculation she may go to the US for university; the only certainty is that it won’t be Pakistan. She has reiterated the decision made aged 13 that she wants to be a politician. How and where remains to be seen. She’s certainly fearless and determined: she only agreed to meet President Obama on condition they could talk, rather than just have a photo opportunity, and when she was awarded Pakistan’s first National Peace Prize, she accepted it and then gave the PM a list of demands!
Just as importantly, Tor Pekai is attending classes in English, reading and writing.
Religion in My Life
I was raised as an Anglican (Church of England), at home and at school. A somewhat passive (non-evangelical) sort of faith, with dramatic architecture, good music, and beautiful words.
In my late teens and early twenties, I earnestly sought a personal experience of God. There were times it felt close, but I never quite got there.
Eventually, I gave up the quest, and was happier facing my truth. I dabbled in Dawkins and agnosticism, and am now at the stage where I am somewhat bored with the debate, and actively dislike organised religion and many of the beliefs that go with it.
Nevertheless, I retain a visceral affection for the beauty of some religious practices (only some), and respect for good and sincere believers, including those among my family and friends.
I don’t share Malala’s faith, but I admire her sincerity, courage, commitment, and passion for worthy causes. She has paid a high price. I hope she continues to think it worth it.
Good and Evil; God and the Godless
History is full of people who have done evil things in the name of religion (including those who shot Malala) and non-religious people who have done great and altruistic things. But we should not forget the opposite.
Malala cites the Koran as saying “God wants us to have knowledge”. Her explicit religious faith may sustain and drive her, but she evangelises for girls, women, and education, rather than God. Even unbelievers and followers of other faiths can support her in that.
She thanks God for saving her – but she’s keen to thank people, too. It also strengthened her campaigning resolve, “I was spared for a reason – to use my life helping people”.
Maybe the truth is that the world has good and bad people in it, and that their religion is no more relevant than whether or not they like Justin Bieber.
· “My life has changed, but I have not.”
· “For us girls, that doorway was like a magical entrance to our own special world. As we skipped through, we cast off our headscarves like winds puffing away clouds to make way for the sun then ran helter-skelter up the steps.”
· The Taliban take control of the valley, commit atrocities: “All this happened and nobody did a thing.”
· “Some people are afraid of ghosts, some of spiders or snakes – in those days we were afraid of our fellow human beings.”
· “They can stop us going to school but they can’t stop us learning.”
· “The Taliban is not an organised force… It’s a mentality.” In the film, when Ziauddin is asked who shot Malala, he says it wasn't a person, but an ideology.
· “I love physics because it’s about the truth, a world determined by principles and laws – no messing around or twisting things like in politics.”
· “I am Malala. My world has changed but I have not.”
One answer to my questions is the fact that Ziauddin carries a version of Martin Niemöller’s famous poem in his pocket, “First they came”: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/First_t......
UPDATE: Book versus Film
A couple of weeks after reading the book, I saw the film, He Named me Malala.
It’s a very good complement to the book: each has things the other does not, so I recommend both. I don’t think it matters which is first.
The film uses charming animated sequences to illustrate the legend of Malalai and scenes from the life of Malala’s parents.
On screen, you see more of brothers and mother, a little more of Malala's personality – especially her famous giggle, get a feel for being on the receiving end of hordes of journalists at international events, and see some of the education projects the Malala Fund is sponsoring. However, it’s no more enlightening on the relationship between Malala and her parents than the book is.
The book has more (gentle) mention of Malala’s own faith, more background in Pakistani culture and politics, more about Ziauddin’s motivation and the schools he founded, and covers the family’s difficulties in joining Malala in the UK.
Rating: it was amazing
I was caught in a dilemma as to what rating should I give this book. I vacillated between 4 and 5 but the message contained in the book made me give it a 5 star rating.
Needless to say this book chronicles the dreams, hardships and dangers faced by Malala - but it is much more than that - it also chronicles the hardships and dangers faced by the people of Swat and the people of entire Pakistan as well as.
The book begins about the day when the Talibans shot Malala and then goes on a flashback. We get to know about Malala's family, Malala's father's struggle to set up a school, the social customs of the Pashtuns, a short lesson about the factors that led to the rise of extremism in her country, government apathy towards the masses, army inaction, the sheer terror of living under the extremists etc. We would also get glimpses of Malala as the young girl she is - whether fighting with her brothers, best friends, enjoying TV series.
I had read about the atrocities committed by the extremists in newspapers but reading a first hand account of the victim somehow made it more terrifying. Malala only wanted the right to go to school and she was shot for it. As children, most of us hated having to go to school and there are people in this world who fight and risk their lives for this privilege.
Many people say with forceful conviction that it is education which can put an end to this extremism and end many of the injustices prevalent in this world.
I agree but somewhere there is a small doubt which keeps nagging me. In the papers I have read about young people, of both sexes, hailing from well-to-do families and having the privilege of attending good schools and colleges, gravitating towards extremist ideologies. Then there is something seriously wrong with the education system of the world - i say world because this is happening in many countries, and the authorities should think about it.
I would recommend it to anyone who likes reading good books.
Rating: liked it
Malala is one of my idols and i've had my eye on this book for a very long time. I listened to this on audio, and the prologue of this is read by Malala herself. I cried three times just in that first half hour listening to her talk about her story.
For the first third of this book, I was convinced that I would be giving it five stars. I love what Malala stands for and I think we got such a vibrant description of her life and I loved that we got to know sort of "a day in the life of Malala." She felt so real to me, like I was one of her school friends. But then toward the middle of this book, there was about 2 hours of infodumping. The story switched from an explanation of Malala's education and her life to an explanation of Pakistan and different leaders and terrorist regimes ruling and political drama, and although others might think this adds great info to the story, history/politics does NOT interest me whatsoever, so I found myself almost returning this audiobook just because I was so miserably bored. I stuck with it, though, only skim listening (is that a thing????) and it finally returned to events regarding Malala for the last third of the book.
I agree so much with what Malala is fighting for and I think her story is really tragic but encouraging. I wish this book had focused less on giving us a history lesson, and rather Malala could have gone into depth about the topics she's passionate about.
I will be purchasing a physical copy of this, and I would recommend it to you if you support Malala!
Rating: it was amazing
انها ملالا....ملالا الفتاة التي ناضلت من اجل حق التعليم
ملالا الفتاة التي لا تعرف المستحيل,ولا تخاف من اي شيئ سوى الله .
ملالا الفتاة الشجاعة التي لم تخاف حتى من طالبان دافعت عن حقها كفتاة
ملالا الفتاة التي وقفت في وجه اعداء العلم والدين الذين يريدوننا ان نعود الى العصر الحجري
ملالا الفتاة التي تعرضت الى محاولة قتل اثناء ذهابها الى المدرسة . ولكن الله كتب لها عمر جديد.ولم تنتهي حياتها بالرصاصة
رائعة هي قصة ملالا ,تعلمنا ملالا الصبر وقوة العزمية وعدم اليأس
ففي الفصل الاول تحكي ملالا يوسفزاي الحياة الجميلة والهادئة في مسقط رأسها مينغورا ,كبرى مدن وادي سوات قبل قدوم طالبان .تستعرض حياة والديها وجانب من علاقتها بعائلتها والتقاليد التي تميزت بها منطقتها
أما الفصل الثانى والذى يحمل عنوان "ظل فوق وادينا"، خصص للحديث عن التغيرات التى نجمت عن ظهور طالبان، وخاصة معارضة تعليم البنات، وتهديد العائلات التى ترسل فتياتها إلى المدارس
الفصل الثالث، يسرد قصة بداية ملالا فى طريقها للدفاع عن حق بنات جيلها فى التعليم، عندما كتبت العديد من المقالات والخطابات التى عبرت عن احساسها ومشاعرها تجاه حملات منع الفتيات من التعليم وحرق مدارسهم،
بينما يحكى الفصل الرابع من الكتاب حكاية وتفاصيل محاولة اغتيال وقتل ملالا، ويوضح الفصل أنه قبل تنفيذ عملية الاغتيال، كانت تصل إليها عدد كبير من رسائل التهديد إليها ولغيرها من الفتيات اللواتى كن يتعلمن فى مدرسة خوشال،
وفي النهاية الفصل الخامس يتحدث عن رحلة ملالا في العلاج ، وماعانته . وتروى فيه التغيرات النفسية والفكرية التى مرت بها نتيجة اضطرارها لمغادرة وطنها والعيش فى المملكة المتحدة، حيث مازالت تقيم هناك اليوم
Rating: liked it
So I knew of Malala before this...but I KNEW NOTHING ABOUT HER REALLY. And I was so curious! So I thought I'd just eat the book up and for once actually understand why everyone praises and loves Malala. And I totally get it now: gawsh, this girl is INSPIRING. (And sort of intimidating??? She's like 17 and has won countless prizes and is a public speaker and politician and survived a shooting and woowowowowow. I feel like a potato.)
I always find it really hard to review memoirs because...I don't want to critise the person's life. But sometimes the writing and I don't mix. That's definitely the case here. Malala is AMAZING. But the book is. so. politically. heavy. I was just...I was lost. And the writing felt really detached? Like Malala is really intelligent and knowledgable and amazing, but her writing (to me) lacked any personalisation. Like even when she's shot, she just clinically writes "and then I was shot and this is where the bullet went". So IDEK. Maybe that's just how memoirs go...
It's really interesting to get such a personalised glance at Pakistani culture too!! Because I really don't know much about Pakistan today OR the politics. NOW I KNOW A LOT. (Although I feel like it went in one ear and out the other. Seriously. I'm overwhelmed right now.)
So despite being a) flooded with information and drowning, b) not really understanding all the politics, and c) feeling like the writing was sort of clinical...the story is truly an inspiring and remarkable one and I REALLY LIKED READING IT. And I finally know who Malala is and what she did and what she stands for! EDUCATION FOR ALL. HUZZAH. (I really hope she becomes a wonderful political leader one day...)