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A Review on ‘Malala’

   Aadhya Shri Poudel - Mar 22 2024

About the Book
“Malala” is a memoir written by Malala Yousafzai, a Pakistani education activist and Nobel Prize winner. The book tells the story of her life, from growing up in the Swat Valley in Pakistan to her advocacy for girls' education and her survival after being targeted and shot by the Taliban.

The majority of “Malala” is set in Malala's hometown of Mingora, the largest town in the Swat Valley, Pakistan. The story begins in the lush Swat Valley where Malala is raised and educated, and later moves to Birmingham, England, where she receives further treatment after surviving an attack by the Taliban.

The main character of the book is none other than Malala herself, the author. Malala Yousafzai is self-confident, determined, intelligent, and intensely passionate for women’s rights and the right to education. Another dominant character is Ziauddin Yousafzai, Malala’s father and the role model. Ziauddin is an educator who supports his daughter's passion for freedom, education, and equality. Khushal Yousafzai is her younger brother, and Safina a young girl, the same age as Malala, who lives in Malala’s community.

Plot Summary
Malala is a Pakistani girl who spoke out against the Taliban’s oppressive rule and their ban on the education for girls. She was subsequently shot by the Taliban, but she survived and went on to become an internationally acclaimed human rights and education activist. Malala describes her life in Mingora, in the lush Swat Valley in northwest Pakistan. Her family is part of the Yousafzai tribe of the Pashtun people, who are guided by their Pashtunwali code, which stresses hospitality and honour. Malala introduces her family: her educated, forward-thinking father, Ziauddin, who founded and runs the Khushal School, where Malala is enrolled; her beautiful and pious mother, Toor Pekai; and her younger brothers Khushal and Atal, with whom she sometimes fights. Malala, celebrated by her father despite being a girl in a patriarchal society, was named after a courageous folklore heroine. Malala provides background about her parents, their love-match marriage, the mountainous area of Shangla where they are from, and the

Yousafzai tribe.

She offers background about her grandfather and father, including her father’s efforts to overcome a stutter, live up to his clerical scholar father’s expectations, and pursue an education. She highlights her mother’s lack of education and her father’s passionate support of education, along with the difficulty he faced when trying to start the Khushal School, where Malala spends much of her time. Malala also details the birth of Pakistan and its Islamization under General Zia.

Later, she describes General Musharraf’s takeover of Pakistan’s government. Malala describes her family’s visit to Shangla, a remote, impoverished area where women’s lives are difficult and very restricted. She then introduces her friends—her best friend and schoolmate Moniba, her academic rival Malka-e-Noor, and her neighbour Safina. She recounts valuable lessons about stealing, the negative results of seeking revenge, and the importance of being a gracious loser. Malala believes in doing good in the world, and her family sets a strong example by sharing whatever they can. Her father, a community leader and activist, encouraged Malala to speak up about the importance of education. As a result of 9/11 and America’s War on Terrorism, mullahs and religious leaders became increasingly powerful in Swat. One day, Malala’s father has a confrontation with a local mullah over girls attending his school and each man’s interpretation of the Quran. Malala provides context by detailing the religious tensions in India and Pakistan and among Muslims. With the devastating Pakistani earthquake in October 2005, Islamic militants gained popularity because they provided rapid and practical relief that the government did not.

The Taliban emerged in Swat under Maulana Fazlullah, referred to as Radio Mullah for his influential radio broadcasts that promote sharia (strict Islamic law) and designate what is haram, or forbidden. Malala recounts a violent confrontation between the army and the militants at the Red Mosque in Islamabad. The return of Pakistan’s first female prime minister, Benazir Bhutto, offers hope until she is murdered two months later. Terror increases in Swat with the Taliban’s harsh punishments and a bombing campaign that blows up hundreds of schools. Despite Fazlullah’s order that girls stay home, Malala continues to go to school. Malala and her father participate in interviews during which they speak out about the repressive, violent situation in Swat. Fazlullah decides that girls under eleven can return to school, and Malala continues her schooling even though she’s past the age limit. Malala’s family lives in fear as the army and the Taliban continue to battle and the situation in Swat worsens. Finally, the residents of Mingora were told to evacuate. Malala’s family members became internally displaced persons along with millions of other Pashtuns. After the army beats back the Taliban, Malala’s family is able to return to Mingora. Despite the devastation and destruction throughout the area, Malala’s family feels grateful that their home and the Khushal School remain intact. But the hardship continues. Extreme monsoons cause more devastation in Pakistan, and the reemerging Taliban once again provide more aid than the government. The Pakistani government sets Malala’s family up for their new life in England. The family misses their life in Pakistan, and Malala hopes to return someday. Meanwhile, Malala happily resumes school and feels more determined than ever to continue her work helping people.

Critical Thoughts
“Malala” is an inspiring book that sheds light on Malala's extraordinary journey and her unwavering dedication to education. While the book effectively conveys her experiences during the war, it may lack certain details that could have further captivated readers. It could have benefited from more complex storytelling and a deeper exploration of specific moments. Overall, the book succeeds in delivering an important message and showcasing Malala's incredible courage and resilience.

Opinion and Recommendation
I highly recommend “Malala” as it is a captivating and inspirational read. Malala's story serves as a powerful reminder of the importance of education and the fight for equality. Her bravery in the face of adversity is truly commendable. The book provides valuable insights into the war, the devastating impact on innocent lives, and the strength of the human spirit. I believe this book is essential reading for anyone interested in social justice and the power of education. I rate it a five star.

A Review on ‘Malala’

Aadhya Shri Poudel
Grade VI (Kabru)
Deerwalk Sifal School

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