I am Malala, a Review

“A Talib fires three shots at point-blank range at three girls in a van and doesn’t kill any of them. This seems an unlikely story, and people say I have made a miraculous recovery…. I know God stopped me from going to the grave. It feels like this life is a second life. People prayed to God to spare me, and I was spared for a reason—to use my life for helping people. When people talk about the way I was shot and what happened, I think it’s the story of Malala, ‘a girl shot by the Taliban’; I don’t feel it’s a story about me at all.”

From Chapter 24, “They Have Snatched Her Smile,” I am Malala

Malala. I write that name, and the recognition is near-universal. Like Cher and Madonna and others before her, only one name defines her—Malala, the girl who was shot by the Taliban and survived.

In October of 2012, awareness of Malala Yousafzai, though worldwide, exploded as the news of the attempt on her life lit up every cable news network, every news web site and the social media. She had been shot in the head, and we couldn’t help but believe that her sweet, strident voice in support of education, especially for girls, had been silenced forever. That she survived, mind, voice and values intact, is a miracle. She gives the credit to God and her doctors, and I agree.

I began reading I am Malala: The Girl who Stood up for Education and was Shot by the Taliban and immediately heard her voice telling the story. Christina Lamb deserves a great deal of credit as co-writer because although Malala is an intelligent, talented young woman, certainly capable of writing this autobiography on her own, when in this last busy year could she have found the time?  Instead, Ms. Lamb, a journalist familiar with Pakistan and its history, obviously completed a great deal of detailed research as well as many, many interviews in order to share not only Malala’s story but the history and culture of the region of Swat where Malala grew up.

I spoke of the voice in the book. It never falters. I was constantly aware of a young girl’s love and joy surrounding her family, her friends and her teachers. With the amount of historical information conveyed, one would assume that it could get boring to those of us who find history tedious. But, no. I felt as though Malala herself was whispering in my ear, occasionally putting her hand up to her mouth as she sometimes does during interviews. And the beauty of what she was whispering!  The valley of Swat appeared before me as a little bit of heaven dropped down to earth, and rather than enticing me to close up the book with a yawn, the chronicles of its people, the Pashtun, and of Pakistan going back hundreds of years enthralled me.

This is a marvelous book, beautifully written, and one as important as The Diary of a Young Girl by Anne Frank. I highly recommend it, especially to girls in middle and high school.

At the very end of the book, Malala says, “I am Malala. My world has changed but I have not.”  I think that about says it all.