I’m not usually the type that will sit and read a non-fiction book. There are very few non-fiction titles on my shelves, purely because I can’t get as invested in fact as I can fiction. However lame that might sound, it’s what happens for me. But on rare occasions you’ll come across a non-fiction book that is a story, it’s someone’s story. They’ve told it as it happened. I Am Malala is the first book I’ve read like that, and I honestly can’t put into words how I truly feel about the book, but I’ll give it a shot anyway.
Malala Yousafzai lives in Birmingham, United Kingdom, but she used to live in Mingora, Pakistan, in the Swat region. As a girl in Pakistan, life was difficult. There were no celebrations if a girl was born, just commiserations. But her father was determined to make her equal, and as the operator of schools in the region, Malala had an education at an all-girls school, until Fazlullah had his way. On the 9th October 2012, she was shot point blank by the Taliban for standing up for her right, and girls’ right, to education. In this re-written teen edition of her book, I Am Malala, Malala recounts how life was in Pakistan and what it’s like now.
For me personally, Malala is an inspiration. Her blogs she wrote for BBC Urdu at 11/12 years of age are still live on the BBC’s website, and reading over them you can tell this girl has been through so much. She lives in a much safer place now, but her work is inspiring.
I said in my introduction that I rarely come across non-fiction books where it feels like I’m reading a story. The sad thing is that I wish this was a story, and that none of this ever happened. I wished that Malala was still living where she wanted to (I’m not saying this to be mean and saying I don’t want her in the UK, Malala has publicly stated it is her dream to return to Pakistan one day), getting an unchallenged education and that none of the attacks ever happened.
But it’s true. Every event that Malala said happened, and everything in speech marks (as best as she can remember them, obviously) was all said by real people.
I Am Malala opens us up to the home truths of what is really happening in the world, and tells the story in such a well-written way, designed to draw empathy out of you as if reading it were a blood test, except this you don’t mind at all.
Malala’s way with words is extraordinary. I don’t know about anyone reading this, but before I read this book, I completely supported Malala’s aims, but now after I’ve read it, I stand #withMalala more than ever.
Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’m off to see the movie!