Last year I gave my year tens their speech assignment – to research a hero and explain why young people should look up to them. One of the people who the class kept returning to in discussion was Malala Yousafzai. Malala is known as the girl who was shot by the Taliban. She was just fifteen and was targeted because of her passionate promotion of education for girls in Pakistan. She miraculously and against all odds survived the shooting and went on to win the Nobel peace prize. I had heard of Malala before but hadn’t really known
anything about her beyond what made headlines.
I am Malala is Malala’s story of her life and experiences. It is the first non-fiction text I’ve read cover to cover in a long time and I found it interesting and not too dense to enage with. Malala weaves her own story in with historical detail and stories, all peppered with anecdotal tales as well as conveying the rising influence of the Taliban. She also captures a bit of a sense of impending doom. The first part of the autobiography covers the actual shooting while the rest of the book is divided into sections which build up to that event, then cover the aftermath of the incident. In this regard it does follow a fairly conventional plot format with the build up to to the conflict, then the action and resolution.
The historical parts were slightly tedious at times but I attribute that more to my reception of the
writing than to the writing style. I liked that by reading it I gained a nice insight into the world of Pakistan during my own lifetime. It’s fascinating to see the same world events unfold but from the perspective of someone in a closer proximity. Interestingly enough, Malala describes how even in her own town they felt removed from the drama. For me, it humanised a family of devout Muslims and gave an insight into their struggles as they sought to make the world a better place. Malala’s father in particular stands out and is an impressive figure. It is clear that Malala is following in his footsteps and that her legacy is built on top of the foundation he and his family has provided. Their passion to educate young people despite any obstacle is a central theme in the text.
I highly recommend this text. I know a lot of people are reading I am Malala and I have really enjoyed talking to people about it. This is a real story and with the shooting only occuring in 2012 it is recent enough to really hit home. I’d love to use it as a studied text or a secondary text with other novels that deal with similar themes and settings.
My rating is 3/5
I’d love to hear your thoughts on I am Malala! Have you read it or heard of Malala from other avenues?