Have you ever read a book that (figuratively) slapped you in the face and made you realize the true scope of your privilege?
“I am Malala” does just that, which is why I think this book should be required reading for high school English classes.
Most people are probably somewhat familiar with Malala Yousafzai, or at least have heard of what happened to her. At age 15, she was shot point blank by a Talib, survived, and went on to be the youngest person to receive the Nobel Peace prize.
Part history of Pakistan and the rise of the Taliban, part family saga, and part memoir, “I am Malala” is an engrossing look into the Muslim world that shatters the stereotypes and prejudices Americans hold against the Middle East. Malala was raised in a world where women serve their husbands and children, but her father made sure she was educated. When the Taliban took over Pakistan and started to suppress the rights of all citizens, especially women, Malala stood up for her right to have access to an education.
Ever since 9/11, many Americans have upheld the stereotype that all Muslims are American hating terrorists. “I am Malala” shows true insight into what it’s like to live in a Muslim country under the control of a small group of violent fundamentalists. With the frightening increase in attacks against Muslims in recent news, this book shows the humanity and innocence of most of the Middle Easterners, as well as the fact that Islam is a religion that promotes love and peace, just like Christianity.
This book is heartbreaking, but ultimately uplifting. Malala wanted an education, something that most people from western countries can easily obtain and often take for granted. Because of that, she was shot by a terrorist on her way to school one day. This happened less than three years ago. It is chilling that this kind of violence, especially directed towards a young girl, is still going on in the world. Amazingly, Malala survived and was only fueled by the attack to fight harder for women’s education. She is only 17, but has already proved to be an incredibly brave and strong woman. Her persistence in seeking peace and access to education is inspiring.
Why should this book be required for English classes? Because it shatters the prejudices against Muslims, inspires you to stand up for what you believe in, and makes you appreciate that you can go to school without fear of being targeted by terrorists.
I give this book four out of five stars for its engaging writing and inspirational message.