Monday, February 16, 2015

I Am Malala

I Am Malala: How One Girl Stood Up for Education and Changed the World
© 2014 Malala Yousafzai
240 pages

     In 2012, Islamic fundamentalists shot a girl in the face for refusing to be cowed by their forceful attempt to impose regressive mores on her village. Malala Youfsayzi then became an international celebrity, honored by the leaders of nations and even awarded the Nobel Peace Prize. I Am Malala is her autobiography,  and like the girl, utterly earnest and encouraging. Raised in a small Pakistani village, Malala’s politically engaged father  raised her to speak her mind. She was one of her school's most diligent students, often its top-ranked. When the Taliban began moving into her area, however, that changed, and starting with the enthusiastic reaction of people to the radio preaching of a self-appointed imam who urged  a return to more puritanical mores. At first, he appealed to only the fringes, but after an earthquake leveled much of the region, it was billed as God's wrath and became the impetus for a larger following.  Like Anne Frank, she and her family are persecuted by malicious powers, her plight ignored by the Pakistani government; but also like Frank, she never gives into despair despite waking up in a strange land, her body hooked up to bizarre machines, her family utterly absent.  I Am Malala covers her young career as a political activist, first as a student simply sending anonymous briefs to the BBC, and now as a woman on the cusp of adulthood.  I Am Malala offers a glimpse into the life of a region only familar to the US offices bombing it with drones, and delivers a sense of how it feels for one's town to be taken over by armed lunacy.  This definitely of interest for those who need a sense that good still fights for itself in the world.

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