I come from a country that was created at midnight. When I almost died it was just after midday.
When the Taliban took control of the Swat Valley in Pakistan, one girl spoke out. Malala Yousafzai refused to be silenced and fought for her right to an education.
On Tuesday, October 9, 2012, when she was fifteen, she almost paid the ultimate price. She was shot in the head at point-blank range while riding the bus home from school, and few expected her to survive.
Instead, Malala's miraculous recovery has taken her on an extraordinary journey from a remote valley in northern Pakistan to the halls of the United Nations in New York. At sixteen, she has become a global symbol of peaceful protest and the youngest-ever Nobel Peace Prize laureate.
I Am Malala is the remarkable tale of a family uprooted by global terrorism, of the fight for girls' education, of a father who, himself a school owner, championed and encouraged his daughter to write and attend school, and of brave parents who have a fierce love for their daughter in a society that prizes sons.
I Am Malala is a beautifully written memoir recounting the violent relationship of the Taliban with the people of primarily Pakistan. This relationship is akin to that of an abusive domestic one, as the militant group seeks to isolate, control, and terrorize its mostly unwilling subjects.
Malala describes an idyllic existence in Pakistan’s Swat Valley prior to the arrival of the Taliban. Her words slowly take apart her beloved homeland, as militants destroy important ancient landmarks and attempt to rewrite history and infiltrate Pakistan’s rich culture.
Named for Malalai of Maiwand, Pakistan’s version of Joan of Arc, Malala is a special girl who is very close with her family, especially her father, the founder of the school she attends. Malala and her friends find respite from the near constant bombings and shootings on the streets of their city at school six days per week.
Unfortunately, Malala’s school and father are under threat from the Pakistani Taliban to close the school’s doors, as its values do not coincide with those of Sharia Law.
Following in the footsteps of her beloved father, Malala began speaking out against militancy and championing the rights of girls to be educated and giving interviews to various news outlets at age eleven.
Amid suicide bombings and the mass blasting of schools, Malala perseveres, continuing to attend school despite constant threats to cease her education.
The Taliban virtually takes over Pakistan, while authorities stand idly by, merely allowing mass killings, all in the name of Sharia. Malala bravely asserts in an interview that the Taliban “are abusing our religion.”
In October 2012, Malala was targeted and brutally shot by a member of the Taliban, along with two girls sitting on either side of her, due to her standing up for the education of girls and speaking out against terrorism.
Miraculously, Malala and her two classmates survived the attack and escaped Pakistan. Malala is the youngest person ever to be nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize and continues to advocate for universal education through her personal fund.
I never thought I would be interested in reading Malala’s whole story, but I was captivated by her words. Not only am I in awe of Malala’s accomplishments and good deeds, I am amazed and deeply saddened by the destruction of her homeland and culture.
Malala tells her story in such a way that makes it easy for the reader to empathize with her and her situation. As I read I Am Malala, I imagined what it would be like if my home country, the US, were overrun by terrorists who want to destroy everything that I love and believe in.
I admire Malala’s courage very much and truly hope she is able to one day return to her beloved Pakistan.