For those of us who live in a world free of poverty, violence, and oppression, we should be extremely thankful. Every day, I take so many things for granted. I have food on my table, books at my fingertips, and countless opportunities to advance myself in our competitive world. Yet, this world is not fair, and, as you all are fully aware, millions of individuals go without the elements every human being deserves, like food, shelter, and an education. Malala Yousafzai understands this, and that’s why she became the force for women’s education around the world.
Most of you are probably relatively familiar with Malala’s story. Born to a Pakistani educator, Malala Yousafzai began advocating for women’s education at an early age. As an Islamic country, Pakistan was overtaken by members of the Taliban who claimed women were inferior. The Taliban wanted all women to observe purdah, which includes covering one’s face in public and not going anywhere without a male family member. These oppressors hated the idea of women receiving an education because they considered it secular and contrary to the teachings of the Koran. But, Malala knew education was a basic human right, regardless of a person’s gender, and continued to campaign for women’s rights despite threats from the Taliban.
On October 9, 2012, Malala was on her way home from the girl’s school she attended when two members of the Taliban stopped her school bus. She was shot at three times from close range, but was only struck once – directly below her left eye. Amazingly, Malala survived. After the facilities in Pakistan proved to be insufficient to meet her medical needs, Malala was air-lifted to Birmingham, England, where she spent weeks in recovery. Now, Malala is more eager than ever to share her message on the importance of free education. She has received numerous awards, including the Nobel Peace Prize in 2014, for her activism and her dedication to promote equality in Pakistan. Malala wants to become a politician or an inventor in order to help navigate her country to a system of peace and prosperity.
I learned so much from reading this book. It’s the poster child for how reading can “expand your horizons.” Malala talks extensively about her Islamic faith and the valley she called home for 15 years, Swat. She incorporates both aspects into her autobiography, giving readers a culture and geography lesson as well as a deep insight into the importance of standing up for what’s right. After reading I Am Malala, I felt kind of like I had visited a close friend in her homeland of Pakistan and soaked up the local lifestyle. Malala’s story and her writing style is so accessible, that readers will feel like they’ve said good-bye to a good friend when they finish reading the book.
As far as content is concerned, I Am Malala is pretty clean. The major concern for Christian parents is Malala’s strong profession of Islam. Although she doesn’t give an extensive course on the ideology of her religion, Malala makes her Muslim faith sound a bit like Christianity, which may confuse young Christ followers. For example, she continually refers to Allah as God (not god), and Bible is not capitalized. She speaks of praying as well as some of the individuals in the Muslim texts that are also found in the Bible. For younger readers, this would be a good book for parents to use as a platform for discussion on faith, human rights, and culture. Those who are rooted in their faith in Christ will find I Am Malala a satisfying, independent read that will leave you inspired and grateful for the privileges you have in your own life.