Title: I Am Malala
Author: Malala Yousafzai
Publisher: Little, Brown and Company
Goodreads Rating: 4.09
Amazon Rating: 4.5 (CA) / 4.6 (US) / 4.7 (UK)
My Rating: 5 out of 5 stars
I come from a country that was created at midnight. When I almost died it was just after midday.
Let me just start by saying I hate reading memoirs. I can never get into them. They bore me to tears. I really wasn’t sure what to expect when I started this. While I’ve always been inspired by Malala’s story and her work for education around the globe, I had never read a memoir or autobiography that I didn’t hate.
I. Loved. This. Memoir.
From the very first page, I was gripped by Malala’s account of her childhood in Pakistan. She has such a power with words and painted a vivid picture of her life and childhood memories; the sights, the sounds, the people. Everything she described made me feel like I was a young girl living in Pakistan with her. I felt like I was going on school trips with her and her friends, playing cricket on rooftops with her brothers, and listening to her dad tell stories and give speeches. While I can never truly understand her life the way she does, she still made me feel like I was there.
Most people probably pick up this book to read about how she was shot by the Taliban, and that story is in here. Of course it is. It’s an important story and an event that marked a massive turning point in her life, but I think if you’re only reading for that one event, you’re missing a lot of Malala’s real message. Her motivations for her actions go so much deeper than the Taliban. She’s motivated by the natural beauty of her valley, by her positive memories as much as her negative memories, by her friends and family, by her Muslim faith, and by all the beautiful things in life she’s known that are at serious risk if education is stifled, particularly education for girls.
Only after I finished this incredible book did I realise that Malala Yousafzai wasn’t born the moment she was shot in the head by the Taliban. Malala was always Malala. She is the accumulation of every moment in her life, both good and bad. To know Malala as “the girl who was shot by the Taliban” is to do a disservice to her because she is so much more than one single event in her life and her memoir illustrates this beautifully.
In that way, the title of the book is fitting. I Am Malala. You are Malala. We are all Malala.
And if we’re not, we should be.
I am Malala. My world has changed but I have not.