I Am Malala

 /   /  By Emma Birches
Stone Soup Magazine
May/June 2015

By Malala Yousafzai and Christina Lamb, Reviewed by Neha Gopal

I Am Malala book cover

I Am Malala, by Malala Yousafzai and Christina
Lamb; Little, Brown and Company: New York,
2013; $26

Would you stand up for what you believe in, even if it meant losing your life? With the rise of the Taliban, people of Afghanistan and Pakistan faced difficult times. Life was especially hard for girls. There were frequent whipping, beating, and verbal abuse. Women were locked up and beaten just for wearing nail polish. Non-covered ankles, bright clothes, high heels, white shoes, and even laughing loudly could lead to harsh punishment.

Furthermore, the Taliban banned girls from attending school and getting an education. Hundreds of schools for girls were destroyed by this Islamic fundamentalist organization. School is meant for learning, but in that region of the world, it was a place of fear and violence.

However, one girl spoke out and fought for the right to an education. On October 9, 2012, when she was fifteen years old, a gunman abruptly stopped her school bus and fired three shots at her. The shots were heard around the world, sparking national and international support for her. Her name is Malala.

Malala Yousafzai was born on July 12, 1997, in Swat Valley, Pakistan. Nobody congratulated her parents. Girls were thought to be capable of only household chores and raising children. “I was a girl in a land where rifles are fired in celebration of a son, while daughters are hidden away behind a curtain,” said Malala. Nonetheless, her father saw something special in her and named her after Malalai, a war heroine in Afghanistan.

Her father being a school owner and a teacher, Malala developed a deep passion for learning at an early age. She was one of the few brave people to speak out against the injustice girls faced in her community. Like her father, she spoke out and was heard on radio and appeared on TV. She also wrote a blog detailing her life under the Taliban rule. Her remarkable story became a New York Times documentary and caught the eyes of millions.

Unfortunately, her strong words angered the Taliban, who decided to kill her, despite her age. A week after being shot, Malala woke up thousands of miles away from her home with a tube in her neck to help her breathe. She had survived. And she became even more determined. Her story was heard around the world and she soon became a spokesperson for education worldwide.

At such a young age, she made people around the world stand together for a universal cause, demanding that all children go to school. More than three million people signed the Malala Petition. Her fearless nature is inspiring beyond measure and she has fought for the cause of millions of children who live in poverty, endure terrorism, and do not have the chance to go to school. In 2014, Malala won the Nobel Peace Prize for her incredible struggle, making her the youngest winner of this prestigious award.

I am Malala is a breathtaking story of how one girl’s courage and words touched millions of people: Too many children take the privilege of going to school for granted. This book reminds all of us to value our rights and freedom. It takes us through Malala’s audacious journey of confronting terrorism, violence, and fear. You’ll be glad that you traveled with her.

I Am Malala Neha Gopal

Neha Gopal, 13
College Station, Texas

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