“On the way we passed through Aashiqan e-Rasool Square and were shocked to see a picture of the murderer of Governor Salman Taseer decorated with garlands of rose petals as though he were a saint. My father was angry. ‘In a city of twenty million people is there not one person who will take this down?’”
I Am Malala is the story of a young girl in a relatively unknown valley in Pakistan who comes to have more courage than most people her age worldwide. This is not simply because she was attacked and shot by the Taliban: her entire campaign and personal drive before that moment reveal her motivation, beautiful spirit, and passion to help create a world where everyone can pursue their educational goals.
First off, the cover is beautiful, as is Malala herself, and the picture inserts are great for helping readers visually connect all the information we receive. Malala’s voice, coupled with foreign correspondent and author Christina Lamb’s hand in creating the book, is inviting—more matter-of-fact than heavily biased any one way. It is disarming for folks like me, who are both different in faith from Malala and also little-read on people from her part of the world. Her narration is inviting—she explains things and reminds readers of names and facts so they aren’t confused.
It was interesting to see parallels in everyday life between people of Muslim culture and those in my Christian “circles”. There are admirable qualities in every people group, and this book is a good reminder of that…not to mention the fact that I learned so much historically and politically about Pakistan and its surrounding territories: there are so many religious sects and political regions I hadn’t had a clue existed. Innocent parties get caught in the crossfires of military conflicts, and the rest of the world often doesn’t know about them at all.
Malala’s father was inspiring, driven, and sweet toward his family. His encouragement fueled Malala’s, and she has the same courage that can be seen in his lifelong endeavor to provide education for children. The thing that most surprised and impressed me about Malala’s story was the point at which she knew it was deadly to attend school—that the Taliban were gunning for proponents of education specifically, and that to continue may mean death. Personally, I would have seriously considered staying home for a prolonged period of time. Malala, though afraid in some moments, didn’t see that as an option. She pursued her dream in an admirably courageous, unrelenting way that genuinely surprised me to read.
The reason I put the quote at the top as an opening is because one thing Malala points out about some people in her community can be said for some Christian individuals as well: people are willing to talk about things, but very few have the courage to actually put their words into action. We as Christians can sit in sermons Sunday and listen and read the Bible—but Jesus calls us to do more than that. Even in a fellow woman of a different faith, and the father who fostered her beautiful spirit, I see a truth that applies to everyone. Not all of us can be known globally, nor do we need to be; but all of us can see one thing that needs to be addressed, follow God’s call on an hour-to-hour basis, and act on the truth He has revealed to us through His Word.
Malala, thank you for your service, bravery, and the stand you’ve taken for young people everywhere. I’m proud to share a generation with you.