What an outstanding start to my year’s reading!
I Am Malala is a beautifully paced, perfectly pitched telling of the incredible story of an outstanding young woman. This very helpful insiders’ view on the disintegration of a nation would almost have been sufficient even without the knowledge of the impending Taliban attack which launched Malala onto the global stage. Malala (helped by Christina Lamb) invites us into a world that she loves, and helps us to watch with her as it crumbles before her eyes. Through her mystification at how such things can go on in her country – how the government can apparently be so blind to the horrors taking place under their noses – she helped me to feel that same sense of mystification afresh. She humanised a place which has just become synonymous with war for me, and that made it a worthwhile book in its own right.
But then she was shot in the head for speaking out about the need for education for all. Or perhaps it was for criticising the Taliban in general. Her attacker has not been caught, so it is hard to know.
My dad and I were talking about Malala over Christmas, marvelling at how very assured she seems. She’s still only 18, yet she seems completely at ease meeting presidents, speaking in front of the UN, or doing ‘walkabouts’ and chatting with ‘ordinary people’. How did she come to be so self-assured?
This is why I read auto/biographies, to try to answer such questions. Too often they disappoint, leaving me feeling that I know considerably more about the subject, but am no closer to knowing or understanding him or her. Not so with this book. I’ve come away feeling as though I understand the mix of ordinary and extraordinary, of natural aptitude and unique opportunity, of the right person in the right place at the right time applying herself and refusing to give up on what is right.
Clearly an extraordinary girl, Malala also comes across as very ordinary. She was often top of her class, but had to work hard to get there. She was well-liked at school, but had the normal jealousies and fallings out with her best friend. She clearly has great courage and boldness, but also acknowledges how much that was shaped by her father and how her childish sense of justice was nurtured and encouraged by him.
Suffice it to say, I loved this book. Very well-crafted and well-written, it’s one I highly recommend, whether you’re a fan of biographies or not.
My rating: 5/5
Note: The link to buy this book on Amazon is an affiliate link, meaning I get a small percentage of the sale price as a commission. If you’re not happy with that, please order it from your local bookshop or library instead. They need the business more than Amazon does!