Who Is Malala: New Book Reveals Another Side of Girl Activist and Her Country
Published: Monday, December 9, 2013
Updated: Monday, December 9, 2013 14:12
At age 16, she is known all around the world by just her first name. Known as “the girl who was shot by the Taliban,” Malala Yousafzai has already started her own organization and written a book. But as readers learn in her autobiography out earlier this fall, there is a lot more to this girl than just what has been in the news.
Aptly named “I Am Malala: The Girl Who Stood Up For Education and Was Shot by the Taliban,” this book sheds light into not only Malala’s life, but into a culture many Americans understand little about.
Biographies have never been a favorite genre of mine, but from the moment I ordered “I Am Malala” I was anxious to begin reading. It is not only the miracle of the fact that she survived being shot through the head at point blank range that fascinated me—moreover it was Malala’s fight for education that enticed. But as I began the book, I was even more drawn in than I thought I would be by her story—a story that is intertwined with the rich history of her homeland, the Swat Valley in Pakistan.
Malala’s life is every bit as inspiring as I thought it would be. She explains the circumstances of her birth, being a girl in Swat, living under the terror of the Taliban and speaking out for education—even when her life was in danger.
But we also get to see another side of Malala: the girl who loves playing with her friends, reads the Twilight books and argues with her younger brothers. She stops becoming “the girl who was shot by the Taliban” and becomes in the reader’s eyes Malala Yousafzai, a courageous young girl who cannot be fully described in one line.
What surprised me about this book was how deeply it delved into the history of her region. Malala and journalist Christina Lamb, who helped her write the book, explain a great deal about the forming of Pakistan, the culture of Swat, and how the Taliban came to power. She explained a lot about Islam and what it is like to be Muslim there.
Since it is from Malala’s point of view, it is very personal and relatable; it shows a side of the story that is never shown on the news. It was also very humbling to learn about her culture’s opinions on America, told from a different point of view. Readers not only get to know Malala, but her people and her culture, in this book.
After reading this book, I joined her organization, the Malala Fund. As she states in the book, “The Malala Fund believes that each girl, and boy, has the ability to change the world and that all she needs is a chance.” Malala believes so much in her cause that she risked her life for it—the least I could do was sign up on the website.
More than anything, “I Am Malala” made me appreciate my education more than ever. It makes it hard to skip out on lecture knowing there are millions of children around the globe who would give anything for even a chance at a college education. So as finals come rolling around and studying begins to take over your life, keep in mind Malala, who almost died defending the right—yes, the right—to study.