I Am Malala
by Malala Yousafzai with Christina Lamb
(Weidenfeld & Nicolson)
“One year ago I left my home for school and never returned. I was shot by a Taliban bullet and was flown out of Pakistan unconscious. Some people say I will never return home but I believe firmly in my heart that I will. To be torn from the country that you love is not something to wish on anyone.”
Those were the first thoughts of Malala Yousafzai when she awoke from a coma in hospital in Birmingham, England. Her home, the Swat Valley in Pakistan, was thousands of kilometres away. Fortunately the Taliban who sought her to take her life away were also just as far.
Malala has been through a lot. She was the only girl who dared to denounce publicly the atrocities of the Taliban. She wrote a blog diary for the BBC, was spokesperson for the Children’s Parliament in Swat and was the youngest person ever to receive the Nobel Peace Prize in 2014.
When the Taliban decreed on 15 January 2009 that girls were no longer allowed to go to school, Malala and her father Ziauddin stood fast, and received death threats as a result. On 9 October 2012, the Taliban attempted to make good on those threats when Malala is ambushed and gunned down on her way to school. Miraculously she survived, and she and her family eventually moved to the UK.
Malala’s memoir, written with British journalist Christina Lamb, makes a moving biography. She looks so innocent and yet her words show an indestructible confidence in the importance of education for girls. She speaks with such a weight that one forgets that Malala was just a young teenager as her life in Pakistan drastically changed.
Malala describes the atrocities that are committed in the name of tradition, and her criticism is not confined to the traditional oppression of girls and women. She denounces the disregard for the disadvantaged in her region and Pakistan’s social hypocrisy.
“I am very proud to be a Pashtun,” she writes. “But sometimes I think our code of conduct has a lot to answer for, particularly where the treatment of women is concerned.”
Not only is this a heartbreakingly moving story of a young girl who continues to stand up for equality, education and peace, but also a journey through a contradictory country. Most importantly, Malala’s courage and determination shines throughout this book, and one can only read in awe and admiration.