Malala Yousafzai was only fifteen when she was shot in the head by a member of the Taliban for speaking out for education for everyone around the world, but especially for girls, and especially in Muslim countries. She miraculously survived and now has an even larger audience for her message.
I think I'd heard a little bit about Malala before this book came out but only a little. Then I just happened to catch her on The Daily Show with Jon Stewart one night and I was blown away. This young lady is intelligent, well-spoken and seems to be fearless in speaking her mind. I can't remember if Jon Stewart asked if he could adopt her or vote for her (probably both) but I echo that sentiment. I knew I had to have this book after seeing her speak.
The Malala in these pages is everything I expected her to be. She makes it clear that she's not perfect but her conviction rings throughout the book. She knows it is one of her basic human rights to get an education. She has a brain and she wants to use it. She is disturbed by the spread of a version of Islam that she doesn't recognize. She doesn't want the Taliban keeping the populace in ignorance and gaining even more control. She thinks we should all make an educated choice in our beliefs, whether those beliefs are personal, political, or religious.
She begins by painting a picture of Pakistan as she saw it before the Taliban started gaining control. It sounds like a beautiful place with a troubled past. Then she tells about all the ways, both little and big, that the Taliban started to affect daily life. This was the scariest part for me. It felt like it could happen anywhere. It seemed to begin with a radio show and a man who slowly gained power by starting with small statements that a lot of people agreed with and then slowly getting more and more fanatical until he had too much power for anyone to stop him. It was scary. Then Malala's valley is evacuated as the Pakistan army and the Taliban finally fight for control.
Throughout all of this, Malala's father was an outspoken opponent of all the radical changes. As the owner of a school, he was especially outspoken about every child's right to receive an education. Malala wanted to join him in that fight since it directly affected her. Her father started receiving death threats and losing friends as they were murdered for similar beliefs. He carried on though and Malala did too.
As I read, I wondered what I would do in their shoes. I'll be honest: I'm more of a keep-my-mouth-shut-and-my-head-down-and-hope-I-make-it-through kind of person. But that's how these crazy agendas gain so much ground; they count on the majority of people having exactly that reaction. When we wonder how one person can ever make a difference, we can always find an example of one person who already has. To that list, we can add Malala Yousafzai. She's one of our bright hopes for the future. Pick up this book and find out why.
Read an excerpt.
Malala has set up The Malala Fund. "The Malala Fund believes that each girl, and boy, has the ability to change the world and that all she needs is a chance. To give girls this chance, the Fund aspires to invest in efforts that empower local communities, develop innovative solutions that build upon traditional approaches, and deliver not just basic literacy, but the tools, ideas and networks that can help girls find their voices and create a better tomorrow." Check out the website, Facebook, and Twitter.
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