I am Malala By Malala Yousafzai and Christina Lamb

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Naturally we all have heard Malala’s story and while some are inspired by it, some seem to have major hostility toward her and her approach.  Chosing to take her at face value and be inspired by her, I was generally looking forward to reading her story before I ever entertained thoughts of using it as a teaching tool in a school.  It is an AR reading level of 7.1 so once I obtained the book I rushed to read it before the end of the school year to see if perhaps our 7th and 8th grade students could read it and leave for the summer realizing the blessing that an education can be from someone who has had to risk it all, just for the chance to learn.  However upon completion I think that the dates, and history of Pakistan would ultimately drag the book on for the majority of Middle-Schoolers and her message and inspiration would be lost.  For adults looking for a book club book however, I would highly recommend it.  As a half Pakistani-American growing up spending my summers in Pakistan, I could relate and recall so much of what she wrote about.  I think most adults of any background would similarly be able to recall major news events, and be able to follow along.  I think anyone younger would find it incredibly difficult and possibly dull to get through.  I think that students would benefit from learning about her story and then only reading excerpts from the book.  There are some very moving sections that I think the average middle schooler would be impacted by, and the included pictures amongst the 327 pages would give them a glimpse into her world.   I on the other hand, couldn’t put it down, the book reads very quickly and bounces around all over the place, which actually didn’t bother me, I enjoyed her descriptions of her town and family and friends.  While Malala wrote it with an author, I think the tone is very much that of a young girl and thus the style works for me.  Political views aside the book made me smile, made me cry, and makes me feel better off having read it.

SYNOPSIS:

Malala is a Pashtun girl in the Swat Valley in Pakistan.  In a culture that keeps females behind doors and cloth, her father is the anomaly and encourages her to be educated, free, and vocal.  As 9/11 occurs, the Taliban sets in, the west wages war on Afghanistan, Osama bin Laden is killed, governments change in Pakistan, floods and earthquakes destroy the land, Malala and her family struggle to survive, improve their community, and advocate for the right of women to be educated.  All this climaxes in the Taliban boarding her school van and shooting her in the face at point-blank range.  She is then rushed to various hospitals before being taken to Birmingham, England. 

WHY I LIKE IT: 

It gives hope and shows that there are people making a differences and despite the risks, do want to change things in the world.  It is a great example that one person can make a difference.  Her family and her are active Muslims, that reflect on the Quran and try to understand where the Taliban is wrong in their interpretation.  Religion is a defining factor in every aspect from personal to culturally to government, and presents just how different each person seems to manipulate religion to their own benefit.   It might seem odd for some that she is writing this memoir of sorts when she has barely lived a long enough life to reflect back upon.  It also is perhaps overly optimistic as the story is ongoing, what she will do now is unanswered because it is not yet been given a chance to unfold.  I think the story is strong enough to cut through the criticism, and can be very powerful from both a child’s point of view, and from her parents.  Most readers if they can get through the intermingling of her story and that of her country will be affected by her plight.

FLAGS:

Violence, but done in a newscast style, not overly sensationalized, but details are given.

 

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One response »

  1. Pingback: Malala: A Bave Girl from Pakistan/Iqbal: A Brave Boy from Pakistan by Jeanette Winters | Notes from an Islamic School Librarian

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