A blog by the staff of the Thomas Ford Memorial Library
On October 9, 2012, two Taliban gunmen stopped a small school bus in Mingora, Pakistan and shot three schoolgirls. Most seriously injured was Malala Yousafzai, the target of the attack. Though she was shot in the head at close range, she survived. I Am Malala: The Girl Who Stood Up for Education and Was Shot by the Taliban is a bestselling account of her life before and after the shooting which made headlines worldwide.
Before the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, the Pakistani state of Swat, where Malala’s family lived was somewhat idyllic. Though everyone was poor, life was mostly peaceful. War in Afghanistan unfortunately drove Taliban combatants into the area, leading to conflict and environmental degradation. Masala’s father stood out as a leader for starting schools for both boys and girls. One of the Taliban’s fundamental beliefs is that women (including girls) should not be seen in public and should not receive schooling. Before 2009, children were killed mostly as bystanders, but then the Taliban began a campaign to close schools for girls. They began bombing school buildings, attacking school buses, and assassinating teachers. Fifteen year old Malala was targeted for her public speaking for the rights of girls to receive an education.
The later part of the book is about Malala’s recovery and international fame.
While over 300 pages, Malala’s story is quick reading and serves as a good introduction to the issues of women’s rights in Third World countries, as well as a specific account of conditions in Pakistan, a country with which the United States has been allied since the 1960s. Readers may also be interested in Instant City: Life and Death in Karachi by NPR’s Steve Inskeep or I am Nujood, Age Ten and Divorced by Nujood Ali. – Review by Rick