I Am Malala by Malala Yousafsai (Little, Brown and Company, 2013) is a powerful story of a girl’s courage to stand up against wrong and demand an education in the Taliban-controlled regions of Pakistan. The work done by Malala, who still is a teenager, is so remarkable that she became the youngest receipt of the Nobel Peace Prize in 2014. Her first-person account of her life is an engaging and inspiring read for all who desire courage to stand for what they know to be right.
Malala was only 15 when a Taliban gunman boarded her school bus and shot her point blank. Miraculously, Malala was saved and continues to stand up for the rights of women in Pakistan, although she is now living in the UK due to continued threats on her life in Pakistan. She was born an outspoken girl and is the oldest child of a teacher. Naturally, with a family so in support of education for all, even for girls in their male dominated society, Malala’s life was poised for becoming a spokesperson for the right of girls to continue receiving an education. She has always sought to learn more.
Despite the arrival of the Taliban in her part of the country in the years after 9/11, she began to speak out for women’s rights, the inherent right for girls to have an education, and the importance of moderation in all things. Have you heard how to boil a lobster? Little by little, the water warms but the lobster does not even try to jump out until it is too late. Malala’s story reminds of this: when extremists took control of her region, she spoke out along with her father, warning that people need to stand up and reject the small changes. It was only when the “water was boiling” that others realized it was too late to get out.
In a sense, Malala’s father was such a strong influence on his daughter’s upbrining, that I wonder how much Malala realized the danger she was in at first, when she was speaking out in 2008 or 2009 as a young child. That said, it is clear that her natural reaction is to speak out, despite the danger around her. She nearly died at age 15, and yet she is still speaking out, making a difference, and acting for change. Her story is impressive and inspiring to me. What am I afraid of?
What most impresses you most about Malala’s story?
This seems to be a remarkable story for such a young woman.
I’ve been meaning to read this book for so long. I’ve used Malala’s speech on education in my composition courses, and I think her story is so powerful.
I just discussed this a couple of weeks ago with my book group. We were impressed by her courage but some of the members were put off by the writing – they didn’t know how much was Malala and how much was the collaborator. I do feel sad that she had to give up her country because of death threats, but she’s really inspiring.