I first heard about Malala when I saw an interview Emma Watson had posted with her after seeing the film about her life “He Named Me Malala” at the Into Film Festival. Hearing about her campaign for equality and education for girls, which resulted in her getting shot by the Taliban led me to want to read the book to find out more.
The first half of the book I found quite slow, it was mostly about her father setting up his school and living in Pakistan, though reading of life under threat from the Taliban, and to hear the reaction to the US attacks on them and killing of Bin Laden from the view of a Pakistani was very interesting.
It was hearing about Malala’s enjoyment of going to school, making friends and her desperation to be top of her class, that makes you realise that education is something we take for granted in the UK.
“In a country where so any people consider it a waste to send girls to school, it is a teacher who helps you to believe in your dreams.”
It also shows you that she is just a normal schoolgirl, i particularly like the description of arguments between her and her friend which made me smile…
“the other girls stirred things up, what we call putting masala on the situation”
The second part of the book and the horrific details about the attack on Malala, being shot in the head on her school bus, and the following struggle to get treatment was when i found the book became really compelling.
How, even when requiring life-saving treatment, decisions were being made based on politics, and making the right people look good, rather than simply what was best for a young girl, her recovery and her family. Being treated like a PR opportunity and political pawn.
It was especially hard to read about Malala being moved to the UK on her own for treatment, no family to support her, and the struggle she faced with realising she wouldn’t be able to go back home for her own safety.
In the weeks after the attack over 2 million people signed a right to education petition – which grew much faster and stronger than if the Taliban had just left Malala alone.
It is remarkable how much she has done, in using the Taliban attack on her as an opportunity to fight for everyone to receive an education with Malala’s movement #withMalala #YesAllGirls, and continues to fund schools around the world with her Malala Fund.