Review: “I Am Malala”

Review: I Am Malala

Claire Gilliland, Opinion Editor

“Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world.” — Nelson Mandela

Malala Yousafzai was, at first, a normal teenage girl in Pakistan.  However, when the Taliban started attacking girls and limiting their education, she spoke up and was heard by millions all over the world.  Her book, I Am Malala, is about standing up for everyone’s right for education, no matter their gender, race, or anything else — all people deserve to learn.  

Malala and her classmates didn’t understand how important education was until the Taliban took it from them.  The group bombed girls’ schools, killed students at all-girls’ colleges, and attacked girls wearing school uniforms.  Many parents took their daughters out of school, either because they agreed with the Taliban or because they feared for the girls’ safety.  Those who remained, like Malala and her closest friends, wore their normal clothes to school and hid their books under them so they wouldn’t be targeted.  

Despite the danger, Malala still publicly stood up for girls’ right to receive education.  This ranged from doing TV interviews and appearing on a documentary to writing an anonymous diary blog about school life as a girl in Pakistan.  Even after the Taliban’s discrimination against female students, Malala never imagined that school would be cancelled, but it was, for all girls over ten.  Malala and some of her classmates, who were eleven, pretended that they were younger so they could continue to learn.  Her parents encouraged her to speak up for girls education, and she did not let threats from the Taliban stop her.  Malala and her friends continued learning and thriving at school.

Her mother, Toor Pekai, went to school for less than a year before dropping out when she was six because she wanted to stay at home and play with her friends.  Her parents didn’t notice or care, so she never received a good education.  She didn’t regret this until her adulthood, when she could not read or write even in her own language, Pashto.  She could not understand the poetry that Malala’s father, Ziauddin Yousafzai, wrote for her.  When Malala’s family moved to England after she was shot, her mother could not communicate with anyone because she didn’t speak English.  She couldn’t make friends or even go to buy groceries, and because of this had to go to a special school to learn.  

Malala’s father, on the other hand, had gone to school and then college, and dreamed of opening a large school that would educate anyone who wanted to learn.  He often allowed poor students who could not pay tuition to attend for free, and was also an advocate for girls’ right for education.  Malala’s parents both encouraged her to stand up for her rights and the rights of her peers, and because of them, Malala became a brave spokesperson for girls all around the world who could not go to school to learn.

Malala’s book is truly inspirational.  In her book, she stated that, “It does not matter what language you choose, the important thing is the words you use to express yourself.”  Because of the words Malala used, she was targeted and shot in the head by the Taliban — and survived.  Malala believes that she was given a second chance to continue advocating for the right to education of children around the world.  Malala travels to poor countries like Kenya and Nigeria that still don’t have equal education for girls, like her home country, Pakistan.  Malala visits schools and listens to little girls talk about their dreams of becoming doctors and teachers and then talks to leading politicians in their countries and says what needs to improve.  

Even after she was shot, Malala was not bitter towards the Taliban members who hurt her and instead wanted them to receive a better education, too.  “But I think that if someone kills your brother, you shouldn’t kill them or your brother, you should teach them instead,” she said in her book.  Malala Yousafzai is truly a modern hero, and can serve as an inspiration to speak up and take action against the everyday injustices that some people have grown accustomed to.