Malala. A name that is known throughout the world. An activist, a hero, the youngest ever recipient of the Nobel Peace Prize, but above all else? A teenage girl.
I am Malala: How one girl stood up for education and changed the world is the Young Adult novel that stems from the 2013 I am Malala: The Girl Who Stood Up for Education and Was Shot by the Taliban. This time told more from her perspective to her generation, I Am Malala is equal parts harrowing and hilarious, it is so simple yet poignant. I have never felt so connected to a Nobel Prize winner, and she details her plight in such a way to unite the world just as she has done in her public speeches and her activism.
Malala begins and repeatedly returns to an event that has defined her – the morning when she was shot in the face by a member of the Taliban in October 2012. Her voice shines through, a beacon of hope in spite this horrific act that she, with the help of Patricia McCormick, can explain so succinctly that it will undoubtedly resonate with her YA audience. This is exemplified in the other anecdotes in the novel, where Malala happily bickers with her brothers, skypes (and bickers!) with her best friends when she moves to Birmingham, and displays her unwavering admiration for her father. Suddenly, Malala isn’t just a recipient of the Nobel Prize, isn’t just a household name the world over, but she’s just like them – just a teenager struggling with everything they’re struggling with.
The book is particularly enlightening in explaining what the infiltration of the Taliban was like on the everyman; something that is often hard to come across in a world that is constantly mediated by the news broadcasts on the subject. Especially for a teenage audience, whilst this is not a difficult read by any means, it’s breadth of information accompanied by the tone becomes instantly so welcoming that it is one of the most engaging narratives of the last decade. It is a relief to be faced with a book that is not saccharine in its treatment of horrific acts, but honest and rooted firmly in the real life infinitesimal details that make Malala who she is. This book inspired me to learn more about Malala, whose representation I only knew through media portrayals of her beforehand. I knew nothing of her roots as a young BBC blogger, but have relished in reading her history. I would recommend this book to anyone who is wanting a fantastic read, even if you have no idea who Malala is and what she is fighting for, you will be struck by how engaged this book can make you feel, and it will bring out the activist in you.