It’s time for another non-fiction review. I bring you I Am Malala: The Girl Who Stood Up for Education and Was Shot by the Taliban (pt. Eu, Malala: A minha luta pela liberdade e pelo direito à educação), by Malala Yousafzai and Christina Lamb.
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If you’re a feminist, like myself, you’re most likely aware of Malala’s work and a bit of her story already. She is a Pakistani girl who always fought against the Taliban oppression in her region, specially against their wrong ideals of preventing girls from getting educated. In 2012, Malala was shot in the head by the group and had to flee her country, living now in England but still continuing her activism. In this book, she tells her story, right from the beginning of it all.
I really admired Malala before starting this and I’m glad to say that reading this book only made me admire and appreciate her strength even more.
To understand the girl, you have to know her family and how she was brought up. More importantly, you have to be familiar with her father’s work as a teacher and education spokesman. So, a big chunk of this book was dedicated to him and his story. Yeah, that took me a bit by surprise but I can’t say that I didn’t enjoy it. It’s absolutely essential to understand how influencing and supporting her father is to her. If he wasn’t the person he is, Malala wouldn’t be herself either. It all made perfect sense to me.
I was deeply touched by all the stories about that little valley in Pakistan (and all over the country really). I loved to learn about their traditions and lives there, so it made me very sad to see this radicals take that away from the people. I’m not a religious people, I never was. Although, I can understand someone’s faith and their will to follow the ideals presented. What I can’t and will never understand is how some decide to deliberately twist the words of their messiahs to their benefit and ruin other people’s lives in the name of a higher being. That applies to any religion. Besides, if people want to live in sin and burn in hell, why not just let them?! It’s they’re problem after all. All jokes aside, it really hit me when Malala talks about how taliban was a word that used to mean something very different from what it does today.
This book really made me reflect on the importance of education. Knowing how to read and write, specially, are the pillars to avoid being manipulated and oppressed by others. That’s why it is so feared. If people had the means necessary to understand the matters in question better, they would never let things get to this point. Thinking about that makes me extremely sad. I live in a fairly developed country where going to school is a right, not a privilege. I can’t imagine what it’s like to want to learn and simply be denied of that.
The writing in this is quite good. There’s not a lot of disparity between the chapters or the paragraphs even, so it was never evident to me where Lamb had the most influence (I pretty much never even remembered that she did work on this). After the part where Malala is shot, near the end of the book, things get a bit more confusing and a bit incoherent (in lack of a better word) but I blame that more on the physical and emotional state of the girl at that time than on her lack of talent to express herself (which can never be doubted).
I can’t deny that this is actually quite a sad read. Neither Malala’s or Pakistan’s story is 100% happy. But I can’t deny how inspirational it is too. This book makes me want to take some kind of action. I feel that often. Activism is something I was always been drawn to, although I never actually engaged in anything of that sort, directly at least (do online rants count?). This read made me consider that a bit more.
I loved learning more about a girl I admire and a country I wasn’t really familiar with. I would definitely recommend this to everyone, whether you’re familiar with Malala, activism, feminism, terrorism or none of the above. It’s simply a wonderful read.
Here’s one of the many beautiful quotes:
Education is neither Eastern nor Western, it is human.
Have any of you read this? If so, let me know what you thought of it!
See you next time,