When I first heard of the assassination attempt on Malala Yousafzai, I was in shock. The fact that the Taliban treated women and girls so poorly was no surprise, but the fact that they actually tried to kill a girl who merely fought for girls to be educated was practically unbelievable. I was so relieved to hear the reports that Malala not only survived but that her fighting spirit was still intact. While I find it terribly depressing to know that she cannot safely return to her home, it is heartening to know that Malala has the attention of many world leaders and is being kept safe as she travels the world to continue her work — fighting for the basic right to education. After watching Malala’s interview on The Daily Show — which left Jon Stewart absolutely speechless — I knew I had to read this book!
While I was already familiar with the general history of unrest in the Middle East, I appreciated Malala’s overview of the formation of Pakistan. I think it went a long way toward explaining how people could have “let” the Taliban take over; how low literacy rates meant that people had to trust what they were told, and how the intolerance and hatred crept in so slowly that many people did not see what was coming. The overview of her family’s history, specifically how her own father fought so hard for his education and the education of others, also explained how Malala grew up to be so passionate about the right to an education. Even though she didn’t win the Nobel Peace Prize, it’s great that she was nominated — her nomination has the possibility to inspire a whole generation. I can only hope that the youth of the world are paying attention and that Malala’s virtues are contagious, because there’s no limit to what a generation of people with her drive, courage, and enthusiasm can accomplish.