Book review: I am Malala
Authors: Malala Yousafzai and Christina Lamb
When the Taliban took control of the Swat Valley, one girl spoke out. Malala Yousafzai refused to be silenced and fought for her right to an education. On Tuesday 9 October 2012, she almost paid the ultimate price. Shot in the head at point-blank range while riding the bus home from school, she wasn't expected to survive.
I am not sure about you, but I tend to avoid "popular/best selling" books in fear that they will be a disappointment and poorly written (many are), however I saw this one at my local library and thought I would give it a go. I am so glad I did. It was a very enjoyable read, but more importantly, a very interesting read. Only a small section of the book is dedicated to the shooting and her recovery in Britain, the majority of the book is about Malala and her family living in Swat Valley in Pakistan and what life was like under Taliban control.
When you read about the lives of those who live in this part of the world it is hard to believe they don't live under constant fear of dying or persecution, but I suppose one cannot live like that, so they get on with living under very unpleasant conditions. The book was a reminder of how fortunate we are living in such a safe and secure country. We have no concept of dictatorships, suicide bombers and militants who kill simply because a person doesn't agree with them or whipping a woman because of her choice of clothing or for speaking out. We have no understand of "no rights for women", where women are expected to be hidden away at home, unable to express any views publicly. This is an alien concept in the west. Whilst I might not agree with the views of my fellow man, I do respect their right to say what they believe. I wouldn't kill another person because they supported gay marriage for example. I can't imagine living in a country where I couldn't go to school, or walk around by myself, drive a car, wear what I want to wear or believe in what I want to believe in.
In this type of environment I was very impressed by Malala's father and his fight for the rights of girls to receive an eduction just like boys. I think he is a very brave and quite a remarkable man considering he isn't highly educated himself and quite a religious man (conservative). He must be one of few who are willing to stand up and say no, this wrong, let women have a voice. Malala is also a very brave girl and I completely agree with her - girls around the world should have equal access to eduction, not just at primary and secondary school, but also be able to access higher eduction. Girls and women should not be shut away at home as if they didn't exist and be treated as second-class citizens.
I think this would be a great read for an older teenager - to see how girls live in other parts of the world. Whilst the shooting is described in some detail, it isn't graphic or over the top. Malala and her family are devoted Muslins and personally that makes for interesting reading, however I am not sure if all parents would want their daughters to read about those in other religions such as Muslims.