This week we’ll be wrapping up Nonfiction November with a discussion of our read-along book, I Am Malala by Malala Yousafzai and Christina Lamb. Discussion questions, my answers, and a link-up are below. In your post, you can answer these questions and/or write about your own response to the book. You can also share your thoughts on Twitter using the hashtag #NonficNov.
1. What did you think of the tone and style in which I Am Malala was written?
I had mixed feelings about the tone. I felt as though this book was probably at least actually drafted by Malala. That apparent authenticity appealed to me, but the language was unsophisticated compared to what I’d expect from an older author. I also sometimes wondered about the facets of life she chose to highlight or contrast with life in other parts of the world. Although she has had to relocate to Britain, these bits still sometimes felt less authentic to me because I was uncertain if she’d actually have known these were things that might confuse readers from other countries.
2. What did you think of the political commentary in the book?
The politics generally fit with things I’ve heard about American involvement in the Middle East from other sources and I didn’t mind Malala sharing her political views in a memoir, which I don’t expect to be as objective as other nonfiction genres. However, like some of the aspects of Malala’s culture that were highlighted in the book, the cynical part of me wondered how authentic these parts of the book were. Some of the political and military events she shared didn’t seem like things she’d have been aware of at the point in the narrative where they were inserted.
3. Did anything particularly surprise you about Malala’s daily life or culture?
I was surprised that Malala had the freedom to go out without her face covered during most of the book and equally surprised, though in the opposite way, by the casualness with which she mentioned the fact that most husbands in the area hit their wives. I was also particularly surprised by how much American culture (Twilight, for example) was part of Malala’s life.
4. Do you think you would act similarly to Malala in her situation? If you were her parents, would you let her continue to be an activist despite possible danger?
I’d like to think I’d be brave enough to keep speaking out the way Malala did or to be as supportive as her parents, but I’m not sure I really would be! I was incredibly impressed by Malala, but the part of the book I found the most moving was reading about Malala’s parents’ response when she got shot.
5. What did you think of the book overall?
I really liked it. Despite my mixed feelings about the style in which the book was written, I did find it particularly moving to read about this complicated region in the words of a teenage girl. I also loved how much information there was on the history and culture of Pakistan.