For this first installment, I've chosen autobiography/memoir. I've read a few memoirs before (and even reviewed one here), but it's definitely not a genre I gravitate towards. I decided on I Am Malala: The Girl Who Stood Up for Education and Was Shot by the Taliban by Malala Yousafzai (with Christina Lamb, 2013).
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.I chose this particular book because, first, I felt like everyone was reading it except me. It also talks about a culture I'm not familiar with. I can't quite put my finger on it, but there is usually something about the way autobiographies and memoirs are written that just turns me off. But I was pleasantly surprised that I enjoyed I Am Malala. It had a straightforward writing style that didn't feel pretentious at all.
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-ever Nobel Peace Prize laureate.
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. - from Goodreads
Malala details the history of the Swat Valley in Pakistan and the various customs her culture observes, which were interesting to learn about. Sometimes the numerous names of individuals and groups in the region were confusing, but I think the basic ideas came across.
Malala's family is not a typical family. Her father was delighted at the birth of his daughter, and he encouraged her to go to school. Malala loves school and learning and believes every child should have the same opportunity for education. I didn't realize until I read this book how outspoken Malala was before she was targeted and shot by the Taliban. She gave many public speeches and interviews and won prizes and awards for her efforts.
I found Malala's story to be very inspiring. For someone so young to have such strong convictions is rare. In some ways she is a typical young girl: she gossips with her friends and fights with her brothers. To know she has accomplished so much already, and she is still only a teenager, makes me excited to see what she does in the future.
I know it's hard to judge an entire genre by one book, but Malala's story is beautiful, and if I could find other autobiographies or memoirs like this one, I think I would read more of them.