The Harbinger Online

Fully Booked: We Are Malala

This sounds dumb, but I promise I don’t make statements like this lightly. This book changed my life.

I Am Malala is the autobiography of Malala Yousafzai, the 17-year-old Pakistani girl who, after spending a large part of her life campaigning for rights for women, particularly education for girls, was shot in the head by the Taliban. She survived, and now continues her activism from her home in England. Last year she became the youngest ever Nobel prize-laureate, co-winning the Nobel Peace Prize.

If I could have the chance to meet anyone in the world, it wouldn’t be J.K.Rowling or Beyonce. It would be her. Her book is incredible – fascinating, heart-warming and deeply moving. I can’t recommend it enough.

The novel tells Malala’s story from the beginning. Growing up in Swat Valley in North-West Pakistan. The influence of her father, who was also an activist for education. Living under Muslim extremism and becoming an anonymous blogger about life under the Taliban. And, ultimately, the attempt on her life.

“I said to myself, Malala, you must be brave. You must not be afraid of anyone. You are only trying to get an education. You are not committing a crime.” – Malala Yousafzai

She’s only our age, she would be a senior in American high school, but she’s lived through so much. Yet the novel doesn’t feel pretentious. She intersperses the awe-inspiring events of her life and detailed history of Pakistan with stories about shopping with her mother, competing with her friends in school, playing cricket with her brothers and going on vacation. She talks about the traditions she grew up with and what Islam means to her.

When she’s in hospital, teetering on the brink of life or death, she describes her emotions in such a way that, if you’re anything like me, you won’t be able to stop the tears.

One of the things I love about Malala is her idealism. She is upfront and unapologetic about her dreams for the future of her country and for girls worldwide. And her book wholeheartedly reflects that. I’ve read reviewers that say her voice is lost in the book behind that of her journalist co-writer, but I disagree. To me, every word seemed to carry an immense honesty. It wasn’t the carefully calculated memoir of a jaded politician, but the genuine thoughts of a young women who genuinely wants to change the world for the better.

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Katharine Swindells

Senior Katharine Swindells is head online copy-editor of the Harbinger Online. She likes British politics, selfies, feminism, cute shoes and books. Read Full »

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