I am Malala by Malala Yousafzai and Christina Lamb

Most Americans have heard the news coverage about Malala, the Pakistani teenager whomalala was shot in 2012 for promoting education for girls.  This is her story; her co-author is an award-winning British foreign correspondent who reports on Pakistan and Afghanistan.

Malala’s father is an educator who established several schools, including the girls’ high school which Malala attended.  Her mother, like many Pakistani women, is illiterate.  Malala’s parents, unlike many in Pakistan, did not mourn because their oldest child was a daughter; instead, they did all that they could to help her fulfill her potential.  By the age of eleven, Malala was sharing stories about her life under the Taliban on a BBC blog.  She also made speeches, focusing on the importance of education.

I am Malala goes beyond the news coverage to give a more complete picture of her.  Even as a young child, Malala longed to help poor children find opportunities to attend school.  Later, when she faced death threats, she said to her father, “We can’t disown our campaign!”  Despite her idealism and her determination to achieve her goals, she remained, in many ways, a typical girl, enjoying the Twilight novels, arguing with her younger brother, finding it embarrassing when her father praised her, and wishing to grow just one more inch taller.

Malala also gives a picture of the culture of her section of Pakistan, near the Afghanistan border, where there are so many feuds that the words for “cousin” and “enemy” are identical, people kill because of ancient and long-forgotten events, and the coming of the Taliban created new problems.

(Helen Snow, retired from Information Services)

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