Sunday, 22 February 2015

Review: I Am Malala by Malala Yousafzai

"Peace in every home, every street, every village, every country--this is my dream. Education for every boy and every girl in the world. To sit down on a chair and read my books with all my friends at school is my right. To see each and every human being with a smile of happiness is my wish" (pg 313).

I've never been interested in reading non-fiction, but I've had my eye on I Am Malala: The Girl Who Stood up for Education and was Shot by the Taliban for a while now. Not only is this inspiring person the youngest recipient of the Nobel Peace Prize, but her story is so incredibly power and so important, that I really wanted to read it. I'll admit I'm not the most informed person when it comes to global news and political crises, but even if you're not aware of who Malala is beyond faint recognition of her name, it is impossible not to have a sense of who the Taliban is or the dangers of political crisis and the institution of social and political change in Pakistan right now. Malala's story and her cause are important, making this an important book for everyone to read.

Summary: 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 became 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.

It is impossible not to feel changed after reading Malala's story of growing up in Pakistan, of her family's struggles to live under the violent oppression of Muslim extremists, and the reality of the inequality of girls and boys. It reminds readers how lucky we are in North America to have the right to education; to be able to live in a society free from the fear of being gunned down in the name of twisted interpretations of holy text. Our cultures and lifestyles may be different, but the lesson Malala teaches reaches us all. You may be Muslim, Christian, Jewish, or an Atheist, but regardless of who we are and what beliefs we hold, we're all human. We all deserve peace, equality, and the right to live, and grow, and be happy.

Malala's voice is inspiring, powerful, and honest. It's easy to relate to her, to feel for her, and to be affected by her story. I flew through this book, captivated by Malala's bravery and remarkable personality. Parents/educators should be forewarned that the book does contain content (objectionable language, some graphic violence, and minor gore). However, I strongly believe that the context in which the content appears justifies its presence. We should not shy away from the truth of the terrible things that happened and are happening in Pakistan. It is only when we are all aware and willing to stand up against the violence and discrimination that change will happen.

Everyone should read I Am Malala. This is a beautiful story of a young woman whose bravery has made her voice heard around the world. I almost never give 5 stars, but nothing deserves it more than this extraordinary memoir about this extraordinary person.

5 Stars

Wednesday, 18 February 2015

Review: The Testing by Joelle Charbonneau

If you raced through Hunger Games or Divergent, Joelle Charbonneau's thrilling YA dystopian novel The Testing is sure to be your next favourite read.

I'm often judgmental and skeptical of a YA dystopian novel. Although the reason is mostly due to the fact that once Hunger Games and Divergent took the YA world by storm, there was little anyone else could do to produce something different. Nothing sums up this fact like this hilarious and honest summary of EVERY YA STORY EVER from The Toast. Seriously. EVERY.SINGLE.BOOK.

So while The Testing can be summed up in this brilliant article, I'll also provide the publisher's summary.

Summary: It’s graduation day for sixteen-year-old Malencia Vale, and the entire Five Lakes Colony (the former Great Lakes) is celebrating. All Cia can think about—hope for—is whether she’ll be chosen for The Testing, a United Commonwealth program that selects the best and brightest new graduates to become possible leaders of the slowly revitalizing post-war civilization. When Cia is chosen, her father finally tells her about his own nightmarish half-memories of The Testing. Armed with his dire warnings (”Cia, trust no one”), she bravely heads off to Tosu City, far away from friends and family, perhaps forever. Danger, romance—and sheer terror—await.

While I did love reading this book, I think part of my enjoyment came from the blindingly obvious reasons why The Testing is Veronica's Roth Divergent. There are differences, of course, but MANY of the plot events and several details are very similar. I even made this handy chart:

The Testing
Inspiring Heroine
Beatrice “Tris”
Malencia             “Cia”
Love interest
Society’s divisions
Gruesome injury during competition
Edward takes a knife to eye
Malachi takes a nail to the eye
Suicide by hanging
Vicious competitor
Source of evil
Erudite leader
Tosu City Testing officials
Dystopian setting
War-ravaged Chicago
War-ravaged USA; featuring a race to what USED to be Chicago
Weapon of Choice

But in all seriousness, while I find it hilarious that the books are SO similar (more similar in comparison to all YA dystopian novels being similar—so much so that if I were Veronica Roth, I would write a strongly worded letter to Ms. Charbonneau) it WAS a thrilling story. Well-written, action-packed, suspenseful, filled with both loveable characters and characters we love to hate.

If you love these sort of novels, it's definitely worth a read! Independent Study is book two of the series and is available now!

... So I guess in this bok, Cia decides if she's honest or peaceful or... 

3 Stars 

I do not own any of these images.