I am Malala: The Story of the Girl Who Stood Up for Education and Was Shot by the Taliban
with Christina Lamb
Little, Brown and Company
Published on October 8, 2013
About I am Malala
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’ve been curious about this book for the longest time, and finally I ordered an audiobook copy (I think I saw it on one of Audible’s most recommended books lists or something) and listened to it.
Before reading I Am Malala I hadn’t realized how active she was in speaking out about girls being allowed an education and how she and her family risked so much in order to continue educating young women in Swat in Pakistan.
The story not only gives a great sense of the political and social atmosphere around Malala and her family but also shows her as a girl—someone who enjoys playing with her friends, looks forward to holidays, is thinking about her future, etc.
She’s a devout Muslim, yet also devoted to the rights of girls and women, and she never feels that those two important parts of her life are at odds. Sometimes she explains why the Taliban leaders have certain positions (like their wish for women to remain at home, inside all the time), and why she disagrees with them.
I really want to listen to the book a second time. It might have been easier to read it as an e-book or physical copy. I had a hard time sometimes with keeping the names of places and characters straight, and I think having the print version would have made this easier for me, since so many were unfamiliar to me.
I couldn’t help but be in awe of this young girl and her courage, though. I really enjoyed the story and it gave me a better understanding of what happened in Pakistan before and after Bin Laden was killed.
Looking back, I kind of wish I had read the young reader’s version of this book so I could recommend it, but this version would probably be okay for most middle and high school readers.
Malala and her family are Pakistan and Muslim.
Profanity/Crude Language Content
At one point Malala hears that some boys have crushes on her and are waiting for her outside her house. She tells them to get lost. (Partly she’s concerned about getting in trouble if anyone suggests she was flirting with them, which she wasn’t.)
Malala and her family, her mom especially, pray verses from the Koran in times of distress and trouble. She discusses the difference between what the Koran says about the behavior of women versus what the Taliban demand in terms of rules about women.
Malala survives flooding and an earthquake. She describes hearing bombs exploding and gunfire. At one point, a man boards the van she’s riding in and shoots her in the head. He also shoots a friend of hers in the shoulder. A bullet grazes a third girl.