|[Image text: book cover of "I am Malala"]|
Her story is remarkable and yet simple. Remarkable because of the enormous courage/strength it takes to do what she has done. Simple because when you read her words (or listen to her speak in the many interviews she's given) you can see how for her, there was no other path. The importance of education for all people generally and girls specifically is so core to her being that it's abundantly clear this was the only path she could take.
Overall, the book is a quick, compelling read and I enthusiastically recommend it for pretty much anyone. It was an enormous education for me about what's been happening on the other side of the globe for the past 10 or so years, which she spends much more time on than she does on her shooting/recovery. The snippets that we've heard in US news about life under the Taliban, the "war on terror," the killing of Osama bin Laden, etc. of course pale in comparison to the first hand account that Yousafzai gives. To admit my own ignorance for a minute...I knew nothing about the Sway Valley (where Malala is from) or the Pashtun ethnic group. Thankfully, Yousafzai spends as much time educating her Western audience on Pashtun/Pakistani/Muslim customs, culture, phrases, and history as she does telling her own story. Otherwise so much of the context would be lost on people like me, who I imagine are the core readership.
For that reason, I recommend the book for cultural education reasons as much as I do for learning about this amazing young woman's personal journey. If you know a girl who is 13-17, I think this would be a particularly good read to do together. (I believe the reading level is 7th grade, so it's not over teen's heads at all.) As I was reading it, I couldn't help but think about what an incredible unit this book would make in middle school or high school literature classes. It's just so incredibly rich with the opportunity for interdisciplinary learning, building cultural awareness, and opening discussions of racism, sexism, and Islamophobia in our own society.
I am so thankful for Malala Yousafzai. I am thankful for her father who instilled the love of education, activism, and public speaking in her. I'm so thankful that she survived the violent circumstances that she faced and that she continues to speak and educate. I'm deeply saddened that she is as of yet unable to safely return home to the Swat Valley (where she desperately wants to be) and I hope the future holds that opportunity for her.
Please see the commenting policy before replying to this post.