Monday, December 30, 2013

I Am Malala: The Girl Who Stood Up for Education and was Shot By The Taliban by Malala Yousafzai and Christina Lamb Audiobook Review

I Am Malala: The Story of the Girl Who Stood Up For Education and Was Shot By The Taliban
by Malala Yousafzai and Christina Lamb
Available Now
Publisher: Little, Brown and Company
Audiobook Narrator: Archie Panjabi
To Buy Links: Amazon/ Kindle/ Audible/ Audio CD/ Barnes and Noble/ Book Depository/ Indiebound/ Kobo

Goodreads- I come from a country that was created at midnight. When I almost died it was just after midday.

When the Taliban took control of the Swat Valley in Pakistan, one girl spoke out. Malala Yousafzai refused to be silenced and fought for her right to an education.

On Tuesday, October 9, 2012, when she was fifteen, she almost paid the ultimate price. She was shot in the head at point-blank range while riding the bus home from school, and few expected her to survive. 

Instead, Malala's miraculous recovery has taken her on an extraordinary journey from a remote valley in northern Pakistan to the halls of the United Nations in New York. At sixteen, she has become a global symbol of peaceful protest and the youngest nominee ever for the Nobel Peace Prize.

I Am Malala is the remarkable tale of a family uprooted by global terrorism, of the fight for girls' education, of a father who, himself a school owner, championed and encouraged his daughter to write and attend school, and of brave parents who have a fierce love for their daughter in a society that prizes sons.

I Am Malala will make you believe in the power of one person's voice to inspire change in the world.


I listened to the audio version of this book. So first I will review the audio book.  I thought the narrator's voice was good, it sounded like a young girl, but there was absolutely no variation in the tone of her voice. I would have thought when recalling being shot, she would have had some emotion in her voice, or talking about missing her family or the education she was so passionate about, I would hear that passion in her voice, but the narrator's voice was always even toned, only a few times was there maybe a smile in her voice. It didn't make me enjoy the book less, but Malala has inspired such a great deal of emotion and discussion, I feel some more emotion would have been injected into the narrator's voice.

One thing I can say about the audio book that I would recommend it over the written book is the names and places. These are all very foreign names and places and I would have spent a great deal of time trying to figure out what was a place name and a person's name if I had been reading it. And that doesn't include the time I would have taken trying to pronounce the words in my head. With it being read to me, I didn't have that confusion. The words were pronounced for me and it was clear who was who and what was what. I may not know how to spell them, but that's okay.

I am hesitant to review the book. As an American with my head buried in the sand when it comes to most things foreign, I really am ignorant of what is  happening around the world. The news is so filtered that we get a very sanitized version of what is actually happening. It's up to us to seek out the real truth through books, documentaries and reliable internet sources. That being said, I have to take this book and  see the truth in it and not fall for the hype that is Malala.

I've read the Goodreads reviews that say Malala's book misrepresents Pakistan and Muslims. Here is what I got from the book. Malala's portrayal of  people in Pakistan is mainly of those in Swat and shows a country of people with long held cultural traditions, people better than me, maybe you. They invite strangers into their homes and welcome them for as long as they want to stay. The people of Pakistan value education for both girls and boys, it's execution is not perfect, but it is valued.  Swat is not exactly a microcosm of Pakistan, being in the rural Northwest with Afghanistan on it's border. Clean water and electricity was sometimes a luxury for Malala's family. And her home was always full with people unfed and with other needs that her family tried their best to meet, despite their own lack of wealth. But they care, a lot more than we do here in our land of plenty.  I'm not preaching, I'm just saying that her portrayal of the people in her book is not something I'd be ashamed of. I can't speak for the politics, the corruption, the army. There are always truth and lies and somewhere in all that is the real story. But I can't pretend that Pakistan is the only country that happens in. I won't even start naming names.

  Malala gives a great picture of pre Taliban and post Taliban life in Swat. There was music and dancing and laughter and games before and there was nothing but fear after.  People were killed and left in the square for all to see.  If that isn't intimidating then the daily radio broadcasts and the pounding on the doors to confiscate contraband would finish the job. Again, this is not a representation of Islam or Pakistan, this is the Taliban.

The only fault I have with this book is that it didn't genuinely feel like it was Malala's words. I felt like most of it was Christina Lamb and only some of it was Malala, the parts that told about her days in school, the competition between her and her friends to get the top marks. The love she had for Swat. And speaking in front of the UN. I do believe Malala to be a very brave girl, someone that has a voice that should be heard. And she does prove that one voice can make a difference. I'm sorry it took the Taliban shooting her for her voice to be heard so loudly, but she doesn't seem to regret it. I believe she has more to say and we will hear her words again.

You know I don't usually review non-fiction, but I think this is a book that any of us should read. If a 15 year old girl can be heard then what can we do if we combine our voices?  There is a movie called Girl Rising that is about girls around the world and their fight for education and includes Malala in it. The link I have for it is an order for the DVD. The Trailer for it is below. It is an inspiring film, just as Malala is an inspiring young girl.



  1. I think her story is absolutely astounding, and much like you said Heather, I'm pretty ignorant of everything that's going on around the world which is something I should work to change for sure, so I would have no idea as to whether or not the claims of misrepresentation are valid or not. It's a shame the book didn't feel more like her, but overall it sounds like a moving, powerful book!

    1. Oh it is Jenny. It is interesting, especially if you have any interest in that area of the world, and Malala's story, the women in that region, is just so unbelievable. It does make me appreciate my nice comfy bed and food and clean water. She's fighting to get an education something our kids here grumble about going to and so many kids drop out of. The world is so upside down sometimes.

  2. For those criticizing it on a political basis, do have a political agenda. Unfortunately Malala is much maligned in that part of the world. You also notice that they are usually young men doing the criticizing. It is also telling that they cannot make specific judgements on the book since they never read it. Yep, even on Goodreads.

    I also agree that some of it was a bit too Christina Lamb, but I also enjoy her writing so it didn't bother me. It felt like it was her experiences. I would also like to hear the correct pronunciations so I may have to check out the audio. :)

    1. Mel-
      I loved hearing it read by someone with the same kind of voice and the words just rolled off her tongue.

      Yes, I did see who was doing the criticizing and it did seem to be mostly males. I think what Malala is fighting for, education, is the most significant problem in the region and if the people in the Swat valley were educated they wouldn't have fallen for the Taliban's brain washing tactics. She is fighting for a real problem and anyone that thinks she did this for fame (shot in the face for fame, really???) is nuts!

  3. It's too bad that there wasn't emotion in the narrators voice but I'm with you in the pronunciation of words. I think this would be a very powerful story. I also agree that our news is filtered. I don't even know what's going on in the world except through my facebook when people post links or comment and that makes it so I have a bit more of an idea since I have friends from all over. I vaguely remember hearing of this but really know nothing about it.
    I have trouble focusing on reading books like this and for that reason the audio might be good, but I'm not sure since she doesn't have much inflexible in her voice. I want to be able to really FEEL things, you know?

  4. I really don't know how she could have told her story and NOT be political. I think Malala has her own politics, but whenever you do shine light on the ugly aspects of a country you are going to be backlash. It's no surprise that its gotten controversy.


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