84 pages 2 hours read

Christina Lamb, Malala Yousafzai

I Am Malala: The Girl Who Stood Up for Education and Was Shot by the Taliban

Nonfiction | Autobiography / Memoir | Adult | Published in 2012

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I Am Malala: The Girl Who Stood Up for Education and Was Shot by the Taliban is an autobiographical book written by Christina Lamb and Malala Yousafzai and published in 2013.

Malala Yousafzai was born a little different. From the beginning, her father, Ziauddin, treated her differently than most fathers in Swat, Pakistan treated their daughters. He put her on the family tree, a position usually reserved for the men in the family and nicknamed her Jani Mun, or soulmate.

Her father worked hard to found a successful school. He met roadblocks several times, but eventually opened a school he could maintain. Ziauddin had longed to learn ever since he was a child. Though he once wanted to become a militant Muslim, he realized his error. Without much support from his family, he went away to college. There, he became a great public speaker and debater. His education pushed him to pursue public debate and advocacy. Through his desire to bring change to his country, he spoke about education, the environment, and government. He ruffled feathers, but never backed down.

The Swat Valley in Pakistan faced many challenges throughout Malala’s life, including an earthquake, a takeover by the Taliban, a military operation, and flooding. Infrastructure was ruined and culture destroyed when Buddhas were blown up and people murdered. The Taliban and others threatened Malala and her family’s beliefs about education and women’s rights. With the increasing challenges faced by the valley came increased pressure on Malala and her father to stop advocating for education. Even Malala’s extended family sees her as a “modern” girl and fears for her safety.

Malala works hard to learn. She competes with two of her classmates and tries to beat them at everything. When she is unable to be the best in the class, she is sad and vows to try harder. Eventually, she understands it is not about the grades, but about what she is learning. As she gets older, she becomes more involved with the media. She anonymously blogs for BBC about living under the Taliban. She is the star of a documentary featuring girls attending school during a Taliban ban on female education. She even becomes a spokesperson for girls’ education, with media outlets looking to her for statements and interviews.

The attention on her and her family results in threats. Everyone assumes her father will become a target. His friends, also outspoken, are shot one by one. He stays away from the house sometimes to keep the family protected. However, little did the family know, Malala has become the real target, despite her youth.

On the way to school one day, Malala’s bus is stopped. She is shot in the head. The flurry after the gunshots moves her from one hospital to another. She goes from Pakistan to England. There, she slowly recovers. Her family joins her. Unfortunately, they have yet to return to Pakistan for fear of another attack. The situation in Swat has gotten worse.