Monday, March 03, 2014

I am Malala by Malala Yousafzai

Malala Yousafazai's biography, I am Malala: The Girl Who Stood Up for Education and was Shot by the Taliban is a moving tale of life in Pakistan. Malala is the first born child for her parents, but her father Ziauddin is offered no congratulations because she is a girl. Ziauddin refuses to follow Pakistani customs and delights in the birth of his first child. He adds her to the record of the family lineage which is usually reserved for males. Ziauddin's refusal to see Malala as less valuable will shape her view of the world, and give her the courage to stand up to the Taliban and advocate for women's education across the globe.

The Yousafazai family lives in the Swat Valley of Pakistan. It may not have many of the amneities of Western society, but it makes up for this lack of luxury in beauty and history. Malala lives with her two younger brothers, a loving but illiterate mother, and a school teacher for a father. She recognizes the value of education from first hand observation and is encouraged to attend school by her father, rather than staying at home which many traditional Pakistani families require of their daughters. Malala dreams of becoming a politician and improving life for people in the Swat Valley. But as the Taliban comes into power in the valley, these dreams become impossible. The government seems powerless to stop the Taliban as they impose Sharia Law, vigilante justice, and ultimately ban the education of girls. Malala refuses to stop attending school. She speaks out publicly defending her right to an education, attracting national attention. She also draws the ire of the Taliban. Convinced that the Taliban would never attack a young girl, Malala only fears for her father's safety. But she has underestimated the lengths that the Taliban will go to silence her. Her school bus is stopped one afternoon and armed Taliban demand, "Who is Malala?" When her classmates eyes instinctively glance her way, the man takes his gun and shoots her at close range.

Malala miraculously survives this attack. She's flown to England for adequate care and her family follows her there. Now, as an exile from the country she loves, Malala fights for equality and hopes that one day she can return to a peaceful Pakistan.

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