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I Am Malala: The Girl Who Stood Up for Education and Was Shot by the Taliban, by Malala Yousafzai and Christina Lamb, is the 'book set in the Middle East' selection for my 2016 (Blended) Reading Challenge.


I Am Malala


This is a great story of an amazing, true heroine but suffers from lackluster storytelling. The best description I have seen is The Literacy Advocate's review title, which says: A 5-STAR STORY WITH A 6-STAR HEROINE, BUT 2-STAR NARRATIVE WRITING.

They start the book with Malala's shooting as the 'hook', and then we go on a winding, often boring narrative that suffers from a lack of direction. These memories and things that happen don't even seem to go in chronological order. We're with Malala at thirteen, then back at eleven again, taking a detour into Pakistani history (which could have been more exciting but wasn't). Only at the end do we see the story it actually started, and the writing does seem to take off better there.

Although learning how Pakistan went from a progressive place with a woman leader to a Taliban-controlled hell-hole in such a short amount of time does give one pause. There's a message here that more people should read. I just wish it was presented in a way that makes people actually want to read it.

But Malala has done so many wonderful, exciting, and world-changing things that her life until then should and could have been presented in a more compelling way. She succeeds in educating us, though often dryly, but I nearly didn't finish the book for getting too bored in various places despite wanting to learn more!

Basically, I think it's a great story whose co-author did Malala a disservice. Malala herself seems to be a much more engaging storyteller/speaker/speech writer than what we see here, and while it's an important story that needs to be told, it could have been told better. I give it a compromise of three stars thanks to Malala herself, but based on writing alone, I probably would have rated a 1.5-2 stars. I expected a lot more from this book, especially from all the five-star reviews. Yes, Malala deserves all those stars, but the book just really doesn't.