I am Malala is our FLICKS (Rogue) Book and Movie Club pick for October/November. It will give us a lot to discuss! Malala was a young girl who refused to back down to the Talaban in Pakistan and gave speeches and wrote blogs about the need for girls to get education. In order to silence her, on October 9, 2012, Malala was shot in the head while she was riding a bus home from school.
I am Malala starts with the fateful bus ride home and then goes back into the story of Malala, her parents, and her growing up in Pakistan. She is a proud Pakistan citizen of the Pashtun heritage growing up in the Swat Valley, a remote valley in Northern Pakistan that sounds quite beautiful. She was named after a Pashtun heroine who sacrificed herself during battle to inspire the soldiers and win the day. Her naming is prophetic for the young brave girl she became.
Malala’s father, Ziauddin, and grandfather, Rohul Amin, were both great speakers and Malala continued in their footsteps. As Malala grew older, the Talaban came to Swat Valley, and people were getting murdered for not following their decrees. Malala spoke up when they started to demand that girls stop going to school as education is very important to her. After that fateful date, Malala and her family found themselves separated from their beloved country of Pakistan with no way to return in the current climate. They are refuges living in Great Britain. I felt really bad for their family being displaced and wanting to go back to a homeland that is not safe for them. I hope one day they will be able to return.
I was fascinated by this book by having descriptions of Pakistan and a world I don’t know much about. Equally fascinating and disturbing was a look at how the actions of the United States have a direct impact on the people of another country. While we were celebrating the death of Osama Bin Laden, our actions in Pakistan going in and killing him without telling the leaders of the Country, deeply offended the leaders of Pakistan. With drone attacks killing not only the guilty, anti-American sentiment is up and allows for groups like the Taliban to take hold. Reading this right now during our current election cycle made me very fearful of the feature. The words that the President say can lead to the rise of radicals in other countries that hurt the people of that country more than they hurt us.
I enjoyed Malala’s story of growing up. She seemed so relatable along with her love of Ugly Betty and Twilight – like an average girl. That is what makes it even more horrifying to get shot for speaking out. It made me realize one again that we are lucky to live in the United States were you are allowed to freely speak your opinion on the government. You make not like your neighbor’s opinion, but we are allowed to voice them without fear of reprisal. I also was sad that it is still so hard in other parts of the world for females to get educated. An educated female population allows a country to move onto the path of a more developed nation and a better living for all people of the nation.
There were a few times in the book where it did move a bit slow to me – I would get slightly confused on the action that was taking place in the past. I probably should have kept track of the characters and events by writing them down.
“I come from a country that was created at midnight. When I almost died it was just after midday.”
“It’s the same with stealing. Some people, like me, get caught and vow they will never do it again. Others say, ‘Oh it’s no big deal – it was just a little thing.’ But the second time they will steal something bigger and the third something bigger still. In my country too many politicians think nothing of stealing. They are rich and we are a poor country yet they loot and loot. Most don’t pay tax, but that’s the least of it. They take out loans from state banks, but they don’t pay them back. They get kickbacks on government contracts from friends or the companies they award them to. Most of them own expensive flats in London.”
“I was ten when the Taliban came to our valley. Moniba and I had been reading the Twilight books and longed to be vampires. It seemed to us that the Taliban arrived in the night just like vampires.”
“Though we loved school, we hadn’t realized how important education was until the Taliban tried to stop us. Going to school, reading, and doing our homework wasn’t just a way of passing time, it was our future.”
“We were learning how to struggle. And we were learning how powerful we are when we speak.”
“Those who could, stayed in the homes of local people or with family and friends. Amazingly three quarters of all the IDPs were put up by the people of Mardan and the nearby town of Swabi. They opened the doors of their homes, schools, and mosques to the refugees.”
“Foreign governments pointed out that most of our politicians weren’t paying any income tax, so it was a bit much to ask hard-pressed taxpayers in their own countries to contribute.”
“Peace in every home, every street, every village, every country – this is my dream. Education for every boy and every girl in the world. To sit down on a chair and read my books with all of my friends at school is my right. To see each and every human being with a smile of happiness is my wish. I am Malala. My world has changed, but I have not.”
Overall, I am Malala is a must read, inspiring tale of one girl’s struggle for education in Pakistan.
Book Source: The Kewaunee Public Library. Thank-you!
Have you read any inspiring books lately?