I remember a little while back—maybe a couple years, but I am not sure—I saw a clip of Malala talking to Jon Stewart. In the clip, which you can watch via this link, Malala says that if she were to hit a Talib with her shoe, there would be no difference between the two of them. She would be the same.
I will admit that I did not really think about Malala a whole lot, despite the fact that is certainly a profound statement on some level. However, recently I was seeing her book come into my path while surfing the Internet and such, especially given the amount I have been reading this year. Thus, remembering the clip and knowing other bits about her life since that clip, I thought that I would give her book a shot.
It’s hard to critique a book like this, if only because it is a person’s real story. It’s not a work of fiction. As such, I cannot treat the plot in the same way. I can only say in regards to her story: holy shit. This definitely gives people a perspective into what life is like in her country (former, because as I understand it she is in England now). It is certainly a dramatic and jarring difference from what my life has been like. Sure, things are not necessarily completely equal between men and women where I live (pay inequity, sexism, rape culture, et cetera), but I know I have always had the right to an education. I never had to consider if I would be shot, if my family would be threatened, or otherwise if I continued to attend school.
I love that someone is standing up for issues like this. I probably should do more, but with the amount I want to do—I have to pick my arena, so to speak. If I tried to do everything, I might go insane, broke, or perhaps both. However, I think Malala’s voice has a bit more power than mine in this situation, if only because she is a Pakistani female saying there are girls who want the right to an education. Do I want it for them? Sure, but I always try to check my perspective as a white woman. Even if I think I have the right idea, I still try.
What I can critique about this book, somewhat at least, is the writing style and quality. Now, I could be wrong here, but I do believe English is not Malala’s first language. However, I think she did have some help writing or in the translation. With this in mind, I think the writing quality and style is decent, but not the best in the world. It is not the sort of quality of writing I look for or find in the books I tend to enjoy the most. I imagine this is because English is not her first language, and perhaps also a little that she was younger when writing this. By how much I am not sure, because I believe she is 19 now. In any case, her youth shows. This is not necessarily a bad thing, but the fact remains it does not hold the same tone I tend to like. The subject matter, on the other hand, helps to make up for this. So too does the book’s non-fiction nature and Malala’s specific position within both the narrative and Pakistan as a whole.
Regardless, my thoughts essentially boil down to this: I Am Malala is an eye-opening book detailing life in Pakistan, the effect/presence of the Taliban, et cetera, that you do not see with mainstream media outlets. Even if I tend to gravitate towards different books, I am very glad I read this one. I would highly recommend reading this if you have the chance. Let me know what you think of it if you do!
Title: I Am Malala: The Girl Who Stood Up For Education And Was Shot By The Taliban
Author: Malala Yousafzai
Publisher: Little, Brown and Company