In 2012 a Taleban gunman, infuriated by Malala Yousafzai’s frequent television appearances insisting that girls had a right to education, shot her in the face. She survived and is now an inspirational symbol both of defiance and of the love of learning.
As you might hope in a memoir by a 16- year-old, full acknowledgment is given to parental influence and particularly to the role of her father. Ziauddin Yousafzai is himself a long-standing champion of girls’ education who, until the Taleban forced the family into exile in Birmingham, ran girls’ schools in the famously beautiful Swat valley in northern Pakistan.
And yet, as his daughter reveals, his life so nearly took a different path. In a passage that helps explain the dire state of Pakistan today Malala states that, as a teenager, her father dreamt of jihad and prayed for martyrdom before a family friend gradually talked him out of it.