Summer's Reviews > I Am Malala: The Story of the Girl Who Stood Up for Education and Was Shot by the Taliban

I Am Malala by Malala Yousafzai
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it was ok
bookshelves: memoir, war

I really wanted to love this book. I don't think anyone can deny the difficulties this girl has faced or the impact she has had on the world. However, the book reads like an odd jumble of Pakistani history, politics, and personal experience that never quite comes together into a cohesive narrative. The first few chapters are very inconsistent and meander all over the place with no clear destination; it sounds more like a collection of memories or family stories interspersed with factual information about Pakistan and the history of the Swat valley, and I had a very difficult time staying engaged and keeping track of the many people mentioned. The story becomes a little more streamlined as Yousafzai starts to recount her older childhood years leading up to the banning of education for girls, but I still had issues with the writing. This is one of the more egregious examples, but I think it captures the serious need for editing: "The new girls had horrible stories. Ayesha told us how one day on the way home from Sangota she had seen a Taliban holding up the severed head of a policeman by its hair, blood dripping from the neck. The Sangota girls were also very bright, which meant more competition. One of them, Rida, was excellent at making speeches." (p.144). It is certainly inspirational to hear Yousafzai's and her father's stories about speaking up in defiance of politicians, local mullahs, and the Taliban, but I think many readers might lose interest trying to follow the disjointed narrative. The book feels like it was really rushed, which is a serious shame. Someone this brave and interesting deserves a better book.
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Reading Progress

December 6, 2013 – Shelved
December 6, 2013 – Shelved as: to-read
December 18, 2013 – Started Reading
December 18, 2013 – Shelved as: memoir
December 20, 2013 – Shelved as: war
December 20, 2013 – Finished Reading

Comments Showing 1-50 of 61 (61 new)

Blair This is exactly how I'm feeling right now.

Natalie Held I echo these thoughts.

message 3: by Meg (new) - rated it 2 stars

Meg Glad to see that someone else struggles with this book. The narrative is just so bland.

Kate My thoughts exactly.

Kathy Agree

María I completely agree with what you say!

Carol I could not agree more! I tried scanning, waiting and hoping for better narrative. But it is so disjointed, I am having trouble staying with it.

Llima I am half way through and have almost put this book down a few times for these exact reasons.

message 9: by Mary (new) - added it

Mary Gillies Yes I am also battling to get thru it. It does meander in lots of different directions tho what it's telling us is good

message 10: by Lexi (new) - rated it 2 stars

Lexi Geyster Going into freshmen year of college I am expected to read this book. It's so difficult to get through it because of everything mentioned!! Not knowing all the technical terms or details of what was and is going on over there, I find it very difficult to fully understand her experience and what is happening to her. The names are hard to remember and keep straight, and the jargon keeps me constantly flipping to the back of the book. There are no introductions to new thoughts; they are simply spat out in incoherent jumbles as one thing reminds her of another but the reader is left wondering what that subtle connection was.

message 11: by Linda (new) - rated it 1 star

Linda I gave up on reading this about a third of the way through because I just couldn't get over the poor writing.

message 12: by Anna (new) - rated it 1 star

Anna I agree so much!!!

message 13: by Rita (new) - rated it 2 stars

Rita I agree with your comments. I am struggling to read this book for my book club. It is very poorly written.

message 14: by [deleted user] (new)

I'm struggling as well... I agree wholeheartedly with your comment about the book "meander[s] all over the place with no clear destination". I'm trying to stick it out, but it's definitely not pulling me in.

message 15: by Walisson Sousa (new)

Walisson Sousa I agree with you, but I'm traiyng hard to finish this challange.

message 16: by Melissa (new) - added it

Melissa Mercado smith I thought it was just me. It was hard to get through. I will say it is not a reflection of Malala. She is an extraordinary person.

Megan I just finished it and agree completely. I find Malala to be an inspirational person but this book was anything but! So disjointed and all over the place. Poor writing and editing.

Hannah Agree. Wanted to like this book but just couldn't

Hannah Agree. Wanted to like this book but just couldn't

Angela I can see your point, but I listened to the book on CD in my car and it was much better then reading it! I would recommend to people to listen to it so you don't get caught up in the details, the overall story is very interesting and educational. It's also great for discussion.

Kristen Agree wholeheartedly.

Nadia Agreed! Finishing this book was a struggle.

Hanna You nailed it!

Julie Davis Completely agree! The last third or so - from when she got shot til the end was much more engaging.

Heidi Thompson Although only 25% through the book, I totally agree. I may or may not finish the book. And like others, I really WANTED to like this book.

message 26: by Nichole (new)

Nichole I really agree. I think this is an important book of our time, especially for American women to read and appreciate the freedoms we enjoy, but I'm finding it VERY difficult to follow and stay engaged.

Vidya Totally agree. Only the last part after she was shot is gripping. The flow in the first 3/4th of the book is a bit too scattered and with the mention of a lot of people and organizations, makes it difficult to follow quickly.

Michelle glad to see I am not alone...and so close to the beginning of the book, too. It's a shame.

message 29: by Doron (new) - added it

Doron D'silva Odd bits and pieces .. I am on part one

Shannon Brennan I definitely noticed the poor syntax, grammar, and flow but excused it because English isn't her first language.

Shannon Brennan I definitely noticed the poor syntax, grammar, and flow but excused it because English isn't her first language.

message 32: by Elise (new) - added it

Elise Nicole Thank you for this review! Your honesty is encouraging. I would still like to read it because Malala fascinates me, but I'm grateful to have read this review first. Will you be seeing the new documentary by chance?

message 33: by Dolly (new)

Dolly Have you considered reading the young readers edition? It's a lot easier to get into and has less of the technical history that the "grown up" edition has. It reads as if Malala herself was telling the story and not Christina Lamb.

message 34: by Mira (new) - rated it 2 stars

Mira Agreed. Not everyone who is an amazing person is a great writer. However, she is really young and her writing should improve with age. For now speeches are her forte.

message 35: by Cathalina (new) - added it

Cathalina try the audio book. it's beautifully narrated

Ghada I think it makes it easier if you think of it less as a work of Literature, and more as a young girl's diary or thoughts.

Carly I feel the same way - that the jumbled prose gets in the way of the story. But then I feel a layer of guilt for critiquing the writing style of something that holds more than just literary value. ~Conflicted, but still going to finish.

Nisrin Arnouk I had a similar experience. I respect and admire this girl's life and influence but the book was a horrible read. It was very bland and all over the place.

Nancy This sums it up exactly!

message 40: by Ava (new)

Ava Bird I totally agree

message 41: by kt (new) - added it

kt Tal vez los hechos parecieran no seguir una línea porque la vida es de esa forma, no es un cuento. Es una biografía

message 42: by Waqar (new)

Waqar Ahmed The impact she had on the world! wow.
How the media can give fame to a person. Extraordinary? no. She is just a normal girl, being used. How many other girls died.. but nobody gave a crap! But no! malala is special ..

message 43: by Jose (new) - rated it 4 stars

Jose Manuel Santos This girl was made an impact! I agree with the fact that she passed though many rough things, I can´t even explain how much I admire her. But at the same time I know there are many girls out there been killed and torture. So something needs to be done.

Nurul Rabat Totally agree. Too many side stories.

Christine I'm not finishing the book. I bought it excited to read about this amazing young lady, but in reading the hundred pages I made it through I don't really feel like I get it. So many side stories, so many changes through the pages and paragraphs. It seems like two people with different styles are trying to tell the story and they keep interrupting one another.

message 46: by Lucy (new)

Lucy This review is exactly how I am feeling as I try to get through this book. I was hoping for a first hand account of Malala's struggle for education not an overview of different family anecdotes.... disappointing after all of the praise.

Diana Lloyd OK, I've read 46 "messages" now, that comment on this book. That was painful too. Do we really need to repeat what everyone else has already stated? I must admit, I would not have chosen to read this book, except for the fact that my book club chose it. So I gave it a try. It was very repetitious and I found myself skipping ahead a lot. I wanted to get to the point of when she was shot, and the aftermath. I was very impressed by all the extreme efforts put forth to save her life. Yes, there have been many lives lost via the brutality of the Taliban, so why hers should be an exceptional case? Perhaps because she has made an extraordinary impact on the world to bring awareness to the situation, perhaps to show the Taliban that they could not win this one, perhaps to make it possible for her to continue her mission to bring the importance of education for all children to the world, through speaking out, perhaps to be the voice for her country, from a non-political means to help the world to better understand the true meaning of being Islamic and Pakistani. No, we didn't need all the pages and pages of details about who is who and what happened, but she needed to tell the world in her own young words, and that is OK with me. I can and did skip through a lot of what wasn't really relevant to my understanding of her plight, and savored the good bits she shared with us. After i finished the book, I went to YouTube and listened to her address at the UN, and her acceptance speech at the Nobel Prize event. She is a very gifted speaker, and I feel she has done a lot to educate the world about the plight of her country and others. She is wise beyond her years, and I give lot of credit to her father for instilling this fire in her. She is a very exceptional and inspiring young woman, and I hope will continue her mission for many years to come. There is still a lot of work to be done for the children of the world.

Julie I am just getting started with the book but I am thinking that since she is a young girl writing this book it was difficult to fill it with her own life stories so she filled it with other historical bits of information to get it to book length.

Nathan Wry I liked how this was writen. It was done so (I believe) to represent Malala's own voice and experiences. I also feel that the "everything in between" Malala thoughts and experiences leading up to her becoming an activist served to humanize us with those living in an oppresive culture that we don't truly understand, and challenge beliefs that all muslims are inherently "bad". We get to know Malala in this book, hear her own voice struggling with language and cultural barriers, and come to realize that she is a little girl, and person like the rest of us, though an incredible one who must fight for the things which too many of us in western society take for granted..
I am very happy with how this books reads, and glad that I could read this and feel as though I were sitting accross from Malala at a table and hear her as if she was tellling me her story over a conversation and a cup of tea. Malala, you are incredible and Bravo Zulu to the writer!

Kristen agree! had a really hard time getting through this one.

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