Review: I am Malala by Malala Yousafzai and Christina Lamb

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2013
Weidenfeld & Nicholson

ISBN: 9780297870913
Edition: Hardback
Price: £18.99

I took a trip to the library yesterday on my way home from a doctor’s appointment – I’ll talk about that in a later post – to try to get some books about depression and anxiety – again, I’ll talk about local mental health care provision in another post, I’m getting a lot of material to work on at the moment – when I noticed this book on the shelves. It’s taken about a year to get to our little library, but according to the library assistant I spoke to yesterday there has been a great deal of interest in reading it. I’ll have to get up in the morning and take it back so other people can read it.

I found this book deeply moving. Malala Yousafzai comes from a deeply troubled and exquisitely beautiful area of Pakistan called the Swat Valley. Her family are not well off but her father managed to get an education. With help from family and friends he started a school, The Khushal School, in Mingora. Malala has obviously inherited her passion for education from him. In this book she recounts the events of her life and provides family and regional background history. How fascinating to find that the area around Mingora is littered with 1300 year old Buddhas, and that Alexander the Great past through on his way to the Indus.

Malala describes the events in her region and country in the last decade or so with great clarity, and the circumstances of her shooting and subsequent recovery in Birmingham with a specificity that is commendable. Especially interesting are her observations of the rise of the Taliban in Pakistan, the affects of earthquake, flood and war in her community and her family’s displacement, first as IDP’s for three months while the Pakistani Army dealt with the Taliban in Swat and her later removal to the UK in 2012 for medical treatment after being shot on her school bus by an assassin sent by the Taliban. It was this event which brought her to global attention after she became known in Pakistan for her campaign for universal girls education. She now continues her work, through the Malala Fund, while continuing her own education here in the UK.

As I said earlier, I found this book deeply moving, and thoroughly engrossing. It provides just a bit of perspective on world events that often seem so far away, and yet are truly something we must all be concerned with.

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