Monday, March 3, 2014

Book Club: I Am Malala

This month’s book for Bon’s Book Club was I Am Malala: The Girl Who Stood Up for Education and Was Shot by the Taliban by Malala Yousafzai. 

Here is the description of the book from Amazon:

“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.”

Hmmm ok, where do I even start with this book?

I guess I will first say that I really, really was not looking forward to reading this book.  I just didn’t think the subject sounded very interesting to me and I was afraid I would be bored.  I was a little surprised though reading it, as it wasn’t as bad as I thought. Though it was long, I seemed to get through it pretty quickly somehow.  I read 50% of the book in a week!

There were definitely moments where this book dragged on.  I have no idea why she chose to go into SO MUCH detail about things that didn’t even really matter.  At 352 pages, for a memoir, this seemed a bit overkill. I mean really, 352 pages?!? She didn’t even really get to the point of the shooting (which the book is supposed to be about) until maybe 80% through the book?  That shows how off track it went and how much un-needed info was in there.

I didn’t really love her style of writing either. She was seriously all over the place sometimes.  She would be telling one story , then segue into another, then segue into another and then another and then we’d be so far from where she started I wasn’t sure why she was telling us all of this. I was confused a lot. She also had some odd grammar mistakes that you’d think an editor would correct before printing.
Error example on line 3.  At least I think. Fitted??
Another at the end of the 1st paragraph...."To this day I still haven't got to try duck pancakes."
I honestly had a hard time connecting with her as well.  Yes, there are clear cultural differences, but I think it was more about the main subject, education.  She was so incredibly into going to school that it blew my mind.  She’d cry when she couldn’t and carry her school books around everywhere.  I just never felt like that about school.  I guess that also has a little to do with cultures and something I may take for granted, but I just had a hard time connecting. 

A couple other things that really stood out to me?  She was pretty much obsessed with the show Ugly Betty (it got several mentions in her book) and she really liked tooting her own horn. She’d insert nice comments that people said about her when it really had no point in the story. For example, when people thought her father had written the BBC diary, but in fact it was her, she quoted her teacher as saying " No, Malala is not just a good speaker but also a good writer." Of course she would include that.
Another, after she woke up from surgery in the large paragraph she mentions that her friend says "I never noticed how beautiful her eyes are."  How is this relevant to the story?
All that being said, I found the book very interesting.  I learned a lot about their culture, their history and their politics.  I don’t keep up much on world events (gasp!) so it was also interesting to hear the point of view of someone in their country when things like 9-11 and Bin Laden’s death happened. 

I don’t think I would call this an easy, summer read nor would I highly suggest it.  It was just ok to me.  If you like reading about other cultures and history, this may be up your alley. I don’t want to discount what she did for herself and her country and how brave she was by standing up for her rights, but the book just wasn’t my thing.

Have you read this book? What were your thoughts?

Next up is Divergent by Veronica Roth.....will you be joining us?

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  1. Thanks for sharing this review! I usually love reading memoirs/non-fiction books & even though I've heard quite a few people talking about this book, I just haven't been interested in it. From your review it sounds like it gave you a good viewpoint & was interesting, but I can see what you mean about not being totally into it!

  2. Love your review! I totally see what you mean about her transitions being weak and it being difficult to get into (Also, I never even noticed the grammatical errors. I think being an English teacher I see so many errors that I have tuned them out! Yikes!) It seems like with such an important story they could have gotten a ghost writer to help her (There is another name on the book so I know she had help in writing it, but maybe they didn't want to change her voice too much?) to really vamp the book up writing style. And yes, she got majorly distracted the first half of the book! I do think, though, that the second half of the book makes up for the slow start!



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