I'm sure everyone knows all about Malala the girl who was shot by the Taliban or, as the title of her book describes her, Malala the girl who stood up for education and changed the world, but this co-written autobiographical book gives us a chance to see Malala the typical teenager who loves Ugly Betty, quarrels with her best friend and squabbles with her brothers over the remote control. We all know of Malala the extraordinary teenage girl but here we get a heart-warming glimpse of Malala the very ordinary teen.
The story - her story - begins in the Swat area of Pakistan as the Taliban are starting to come to power. First they take over the radio, then the TV, then the streets. As an adult, I knew all about the public floggings and executions, which are mentioned briefly and objectively without going into too much detail, but I was unaware of (or had probably forgotten about, if I'm honest) the natural disasters - an earthquake, followed a couple of years later by a major flood - which the Taliban used to further their cause, presenting them as a warning from God for Muslims to change their ways.
It shows Malala wanting to live in a way that most of her young readers would take for granted - most notably being allowed to go to school and even go out in the street unaccompanied - and refusing to abandon her dreams and aspirations, even when the Taliban close down all girls' schools and then start bombing them.
It's something you read as you would historical accounts, be they fiction or non-fiction, such as The Diary of Anne Frank, shaking your head at the unbelievable mentality of the time and reassuring yourself that it couldn't and wouldn't happen in modern times. The most startling thing here, of course, is that these real-life events happened just a couple of years ago. Malala, along with two of her friends, was shot by the Taliban because she defied them, continuing to go to school despite their intimidation, and making her voice heard internationally, asking for help to allow Pakistani girls to go to school. I love the moment when she gets to meet Barack Obama and she tells him that she is not happy about his drone attacks on her country because innocent people are hurt along with the terrorists. Who but a child would dare to be so outspoken to a world leader ?!
This young readers' version is an easy read for teens and tweens (or adults who want a narrative that isn't overly political), looking at Malala's life before the shooting, her recovery and her new life in Britain, inviting young readers to count their blessings and think about other people in the world who would love to enjoy some of the liberties that they take for granted. At the end of the book, there is a historical overview of the events in a broader scale, some questions for consideration in reading groups or lessons and news on how to support Malala's cause.
star rating : 4.5/5
Hardcover: 256 pages
Publisher: Indigo; Young Readers ed edition (19 Aug 2014)
Product Dimensions: 15.5 x 2.3 x 24.1 cm
Disclosure : I received a review copy of the book.
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