Sunday, May 28, 2017

Addie Bell’s Shortcut to Growing Up by Jessica Brody

Addie is having a hard time enjoying her 12th birthday because all she really wants is to be 16.  Addie just knows that at 16 she'll have the coolest clothes, a drawer full of make-up, and her own cell phone.  Her birthday also sucks because she has a big fight with her best friend Grace who is content to do all the things they've always done and doesn't seem to be in a hurry to grow up.  Addie's slightly senile neighbor gives her an antique jewelry box with directions to be careful with it but Addie doesn't expect it to contain real magic.  After locking her wish to be 16 into the box, Addie wakes up the next day four years older with everything she ever wanted.  The only thing missing is Grace who apparently isn't her friend at all anymore.

I have to admit that I am a huge Jessica Brody fan.  If you didn't know, I am a young adult librarian who reads about 120-150 YA books each year and I am so over most dystopias, love triangles, secret magical powers, and every other fiction trope.  So even I find it a little surprising that someone as jaded and cynical as me is just delighted by all the silly fluff Brody puts out.  And yet I will always purchase whatever she has written for my school and I'll booktalk the Hell out of it to my kids.  In the case of Addie Bell, I horded the book on my "to read" shelf for over a month because I was saving it for a time when I really needed a reading pick me up and it did not disappoint.  Yes, her stuff is fluffy but it is well done fluff with a definite sarcastic edge and winning characters who aren't just placeholders in the story.  I would list 52 reasons to love this author in order to be super-clever but I'm way too tired to do that.  But I know at least that many reasons exist.  Read her stuff!!

I'm Not Your Manic Pixie Dream Girl by Gretchen McNeil

Bea is looking forward to starting school like she never has before.  She's going into her senior year with a boyfriend and a good chance to win a coveted scholarship to M.I.T.  She uses her extreme math skills to make a formula that is guaranteed to make her two best friends Spencer and Gabe popular rather than the target of bullies as they have always been up to now.  Her formula works like a charm for her friends but Bea's own life is not going as well.  Her boyfriend Jesse wants to be part of the popular group and very quickly dumps her for new girl Toile who is larger than life.  Now Bea has to apply the formula to her own life to win Jesse back.  She turns herself into a manic pixie dream girl in order to beat Toile in the quirky department.

This light book was just what I wanted at this point in my reading cycle.  Of course Bea learns an important lesson and realizes that what she wanted was right in front of her the entire time, but that's exactly the point.  The real fun is watching how successful the ridiculous archetype of femininity is on the population at school.  Or maybe that's the extremely sad part of the book because it rings so true.  A well-done romp that manages to sneak in some feminist thoughts along the way.

Saturday, May 27, 2017

A Shadow Bright and Burning by Jessica Cluess

Henrietta now teaches at the orphanage where she was raised along with her close friend Rook.  Despite poor treatment from the headmaster, Henrietta has been keeping her head down so that no one will notice that she is able to set things on fire, including herself.  Magical abilities are the quickest path to jail or death after a spell gone wrong opened a portal that allowed several Ancients - very evil creatures - to enter our world.  While magicians are considered dangerous, sorcerers are considered saviors.  When the powerful sorcerer Agrippa visits Henrietta's school, he discovers her power and takes her away to London to train as the first female sorcerer in ages who is prophesied to be The Chosen One. Henrietta only agrees to go if Rook can come along with her and soon she is thrust into a world entirely different from her upbringing.  But her magical powers don't seem to work the way the other young sorcerers' do which leads to a scary discovery.

I read this book months ago and gave it four stars but did not write a review of it at that time.  Recently, someone nominated it for a reading program and when I picked it up to read it, I thought "This book seems familiar" before I remembered I'd read it before.  So the fact that I'd forgotten I read it makes me question my initial rating...  But in reviewing the events of the book I do remember that I liked the world created here with the elemental Ancients and the Pride and Prejudice-esque sorcerers.  There are no unseen twists in the story in terms of Henrietta's powers, Rook's path, the male sorcerer students, or the Ancients, but the book is a fun ride anyway.

Thursday, May 25, 2017

27 Magic Words by Sharelle Byars Moranville

Kobi always knew her father was a magician because he could do tricks and had a rabbit.  But her author mother told her about the magic of words and gave her 27 of the most magical ones on post-it notes before both her parents left for a trip from which they never returned.  Now Kobi and her sister Brook live with their Grandmamma in Paris but will be spending several months in Iowa with an uncle they have never met while Grandmamma honeymoons with her new husband.  Unsure how to fit in, Kobi relies on her magic words to avoid trouble and to see her parents whenever she wants until they return home.  But Kobi's stories might be catching up with her in her new home.

I very nearly put this book down after the first couple of chapters because it was odd but then it began to even out into a more normal story.  Kobi is a little younger than I usually like my characters but she became more self-assured as the story progressed.  I liked all of the adults in the book which is unusual since they are generally set up to be the bad guys.  The loving relationships and the girls' growth made this an enjoyable, if not entirely gripping, story.  The cover is doing it no favors in terms of attracting readers.

Piecing Me Together by Renée Watson

Jade lives in the poor section of Portland but goes to a private school where she is one of only handful of black students.  She is studying Spanish with the hope of being one of the students chosen to study abroad during her junior year.  Instead, she is offered an invitation to a mentorship program called Women to Women where she is paired with an older black woman who attended her school.  Although Maxine is supposed to be mentoring Jade, there are some things Maxine needs to work out in her own life.

This is one of those books with depths that are included so quietly and calmly you don't realize how much meat is in there until you have time to reflect.  Things I loved about it:
  • One of the most racist (definitely classist) characters in the book is Maxine which was a surprise.
  • Other books that feature a main character torn between two worlds have the mandatory scenes where the friends from the different sides of the tracks clash with each other.  Jade's friends got along the entire time.
  • Jade's best friend from the neighborhood didn't try to make her feel bad for leaving the neighborhood.
  • Jade is struggling with feeling beautiful in any number of ways including her color and weight.  And her struggle is never fully resolved.  Like all of us, she has good and bad days.
  • She is not saved or made to feel beautiful thanks to a boyfriend who loves a "thick" girl.
  • Jade's mom!
  • White privilege is woven into the story but the words "white privilege" are never uttered.
  • As someone whose actual field is communication, I LOVE that Jade begins to claim some power by talking to people and telling them directly what she thinks.  Imagine that!!
  • The references to artists and their works without a didactic description of who they are.  It's up to me as the reader to either already have the knowledge of who they are or go find out.
  • Jade's friend from school has realistic layers.  She is not racist (mostly) but she is unable to see how some situations are different for her and Jade.
  • Jade lives in the poor part of Portland but there's no obligatory gangs, addicts, drug dealers...
  • The way that the symphony lady talks down to all the Women to Women members in such a natural way that she doesn't even know how offensive she's being.  
  • And so much more that I'm not remembering already even though I just finished the book. Really masterful writing that captures what it is to be a teen trying to put yourself together.

Friday, May 19, 2017

Nemesis by Brendan Reichs

Min has just turned 16 and just like all of her previous birthdays on even years, she was murdered by the man in black.  Also just like before, she wakes up in a small clearing near her home with no evidence of her death.  Min has been seeing a counselor and taking a pill he prescribes for years but neither thing has stopped the murders.  This year, however, Min and the rest of the world are facing something that could possibly be an even bigger issue.  A huge asteroid nicknamed the Anvil will be passing close enough to Earth that there is a danger of a collision that would wipe out all of humanity.  As the Earth begins to deal with unprecedented natural disasters, Min discovers that she is not alone with her problems and that several people close to her might know more about what is happening than they have revealed.
The first half of the book was great and fast-moving with a weird premise I don't remember seeing before.  I couldn't wait to find out what exactly was happening.  Then the second half began and I felt for awhile that I was reading some other book entirely.  Something Lord of the Flies-ish.  I still couldn't wait to find out what exactly was happening, but I wasn't enjoying it as much at that point and the story dragged.  Finally, at the end I felt my familiar sense of being disgruntled because of the hard cliffhanger that made this book feel almost like a prequel to what's REALLY going to happen next.  All of that is not to say that I didn't enjoy the book, just that it wasn't as great as I was expecting after reading the first few chapters.

The Diabolic by S.J. Kincaid

Diabolics are created to be the ultimate bodyguards.  Raised in horrible conditions where they are rewarded for violent behavior, they are ultimately purchased to bond with and protect one person.  Nemesis is a Diabolic sworn to protect Sidonia, the daughter of a Senator who has spoken out against the corrupt Emperor running the galaxy.  When Sidonia's father goes too far, the Emperor demands that Sidonia be sent to the galactic court for an audience.  Knowing that the Emperor could possibly be bringing her there to kill her, the family decides to send Nemesis in her place.   Now Nemesis is thrust into a world of complex politics and emotions as she works to convince everyone she is Sidonia. 

This is exactly the type of sci fi I love - a big sprawling space opera that keeps me guessing.  I was only confused by the world for a short while and even then, only in figuring out the titles and hierarchy of the nobility.  Nemesis is a great character who struggles with her humanity (as in, does she have any) but mostly deftly navigates her way through a pit of vipers at court.  There were twists and turns a-plenty that kept me guessing and even had me gasp aloud at one point, then left me with a smile I couldn't wipe off my face because of the delight of the plot twist.  There was even a turn close to the end I didn't see coming and that hardly ever happens.  One issue I had was that I pictured Tyrus as Tyrion Lannister, undoubtedly because of the similarity of their names and their cleverness.  I like Tyrion but I was pulled out of the story while I had to remember that Tyrus was not that character.  But otherwise, a smart, well-developed story that kept me enthralled.  I will be recommending it to everyone and am already haranguing my husband to start it so we can discuss.

Friday, May 12, 2017

Ashes to Asheville by Sarah Dooley

Fella had a warm, happy home with her sister Zany and her two mothers, Mama Lacy and Mama Shannon.  But after Mama Lacy died, Fella's grandmother went to court and got custody of her so now Fella lives with her grandmother, Mrs. Madison, and not her other mother and sister.  One night Zany sneaks into Mrs. Madison's house and Fella catches her stealing Mama Lacy's ashes.  The two girls, and Mrs. Madison's poodle, set off on a road trip to Asheville, North Carolina to scatter their mother's ashes in the place they called home when they were all together and happy.  The trip doesn't go as smoothly as planned, though, with car problems, a thief, an injured poodle, and more.

 I wanted to love this book concerning a family with two mothers who cannot be a family anymore due to outdated laws.  Unfortunately, I just liked the book, and even that is tenuous.  Neither of the girls were appealing to me with their constant bickering and disregard for the safety of the dog.  There were problems galore which made the book stressful and unrealistic.  Finally, I saw the ending solution to the problem coming a mile away and it seemed too pat, even though it was nicely happy.

CatStronauts: Mission Moon by Drew Brockington

An energy shortage has put Earth into rolling blackouts.  The World's Best Scientist informs the president that the solution is to set up a solar energy plant on the moon.  Luckily the CatStronauts are up to the task!  The team of Major Meowser, Waffles, Blanket, and Pom Pom begin training immediately to save the world.

This book had me at "Catstronauts" and a character named Pom Pom.  It didn't live up to my giddy expectations but it's still fairly fun.

Short by Holly Goldberg Sloan

Julia is still grieving for her beloved dog Ramon and wants to spend the summer not doing much of anything.  Those plans change when her mother makes her audition for The Wizard of Oz along with her little brother and she finds herself cast as one of the Munchkins.  Unsure of herself at first, Julia is quickly enamored of her dynamic director and Olive, an adult little person who becomes Julia's friend and mentor.  As she begins to speak out more she finds herself attracting attention and becoming more integral to the play.

I love Julia's voice although I wondered if she was supposed to be on the autism spectrum or if she was just a nonstop, full of energy kid.  I think she's just full of energy.  There were about 50 sentences in the book I wanted to write down and hang on my wall because they were just so poignant and craftily written but I also wanted to keep reading so I didn't take the time.  The story is slight in that there is not a huge crisis that needs solving and Julia doesn't alienate everyone she knows before she learns an important lesson, but I'm okay with that.  I just enjoyed reading her story and listening to her funny, preteen observations.

Monday, May 8, 2017

The Boy at the Top of the Mountain by John Boyne

Pierrot lived in Paris with his parents until he was orphaned. He spends some time in an orphanage until he is taken in by his aunt Beatrix whom he has never met.  She is a servant in a fancy house in Germany.  One of the first things she does is change Pierrot's name to its German variation, Pieter, explaining that it will be better if he has a more German name.  She also advises Pieter to not mention his childhood friend Ansel who is Jewish.  When the master of the house finally arrives it is none other than Adolph Hitler.  Pieter is impressed with Hitler and tries to do whatever he can to impress the man.  Hitler takes Pieter under his wing and begins turning him into a perfect German boy. 

I've never actually read The Boy in the Striped Pajamas because it is always checked out of my library and I never have to work to sell it to my students so I have no comparison to Boyne's earlier works for this book.  However, I was absorbed in this book.  I don't believe it is the best writing ever and the story is not always nuanced, but that is not what I took away from the book.  As he falls more under Hitler's spell, Pieter begins spouting Nazi propaganda and acting as a good Aryan boy ought to act.  He finally does something unforgivable and shocking to me as a reader but it is exactly what many Germans did during Hitler's reign.  Later in the book, Pieter begins to realize that his actions have been horrible and he tries to make amends but Boyne makes it clear that although you can apologize and try to make up for your past actions, you will always have to live with what you have done.  That is a lesson I think is very important to take away from the story. I also liked the slow assimilation of Pieter to the Nazi mindset.  All too often we ask how can people do some of the horrible things they do?  Why didn't the Germans stand up to the Nazis?  Why would people follow the teachings of the Taliban?  People can be indoctrinated slowly, in steps so small you can't even see the path until you are at then end of it.  That's the strength of this book.  Pierrot is a nice boy, a kind boy.  But even he can be molded into someone else with the right attention and messages.

Labyrinth Lost by Zoraida Córdova

Alex comes from a long line of brujas - witches - and her family expects her to take her place among them.  Alex has felt some of her powers awakening but she has been keeping it a secret from her mother and two sisters because she has seen magic bring about some sad consequences.  After an incident at school she can't hide the fact that she is an encantrix, one of the most powerful types of brujas, and her mother begins planning her deathday celebration.  During the deathday ceremony a new bruja receives the blessings of long dead ancestors which helps to shape and control her magic.  Alex decides to find a canto to renounce her powers so she can live a non-magical life but her spell goes awry and her entire family - living and dead - are taken into Los Lagos where they will be preyed upon by the Devourer.  She has to enter the underworld to rescue her family with the help of a brujo she has only just met and the unexpected addition of her human best friend.

I was unexpectedly loving this book for about the first third to half.  Unexpectedly because it was nominated for a reading program by someone whose taste in books doesn't usually mesh with mine.  I love Alex's family and the descriptions of her sisters and mom moving so easily with their magic.  I could feel how they were part of two worlds and I was drawn into their lives.  I love the mythology Cordova has created for this book with the dead ancestors still being around and still having jobs to do after death.  Alex's family's lives felt rich and homey while the female characters were strong, powerful and beautiful.  I couldn't understand why Alex would be so dead set against taking her place with these wonderful people so that was one of my first issues with the book. But then again, there has to be some conflict to make a story so of course she has to be some sort of misfit. 

Despite my issues with Alex, I was totally absorbed throughout the beginning of the book and even a ways into the adventures in Los Lagos.  But then it all started to get too trippy for me.  After finishing the book I read a bunch of reviews on GoodReads where many people referenced Alice in Wonderland for the section set in the underworld and that helped me to figure out why I didn't care for the end of the book since I am not an Alice fan nor do I like psychedelic literature.  It started to fall apart for me at the section in the field with what are sort of fairy-esque creatures.  But mostly, I had a hard time following where they went, how they got through the mountains, the battle scenes, the ghosts who helped them, what Alex's powers were, how they worked...  It was not clearly drawn enough for me and all of that went on for too long. I wish the story had stayed in Brooklyn.  Since tht didn't happen, I wish that the part of the story taking place in Los Lagos had been less frantic with well-defined events.

Finally - liked the relationship that developed even though it ended up being another insta-love situation.  The hints about the relationship seemed obvious to me but I think that won't be the case for many readers. 

Saturday, May 6, 2017

13 Reasons Why - The book vs. the series

Here's a breakdown of some differences between the book and the Netflix series, first of all with each individual tape.

Tape #
Hannah and Justin date a short while and Justin spreads rumors that Hannah was easy and went much further than the kisses they shared.
Hannah and Justin hang out one night at a nearby park and kiss.  Justin takes a picture of her coming down a slide that makes it look like she posed for a crotch shot which he then sends to everyone.
Alex makes a list of best/worst body parts and assigns girls to each section.  He puts Hannah under “Best Ass” which leads to boys objectifying her and Bryce feeling free to grab her ass in a store.
Alex only contributes the best/worst ass section to the overall list, mostly to make Jessica mad.  Hannah gets groped by Bryce in the store
Jessica begins dating Alex which effectively breaks up their three-way friendship.  She blames Hannah for the list and slaps her.
Same as in the book
Hannah becomes aware that someone is following her and taking pictures of her.  She confides in Courtney who comes over to help her catch the perpetrator.  The two girls stage a seductive backrub, Courtney makes comments about the lewd stuff supposedly kept in Hannah’s drawers
All the same except that when Courtney comes over she comes on to Hannah and ends up kissing her.  We find out later that Courtney is gay but closeted.  Tyler spreads the picture of the two girls kissing but people can’t tell who they are.
Courtney is a fair weather friend, apparently with everyone.  Hannah thought they were starting a real friendship but after Courtney uses Hannah to get a ride to a party, she tells everyone that Hannah had all sorts of freaky stuff in her drawers, furthering the idea that Hannah is easy.
Courtney uses Hannah to get a ride with two other friends to a school dance. Hannah is excited to be starting a friendship.   The picture becomes a topic of conversation and Courtney spreads rumors about Hannah to cover up her sexuality.
Marcus is just some guy, not SCA president.  He says he got her name on the Oh My Valentine list but Hannah later wonders if that was true or if he just said that because of what he had heard about her.  He stands her up for awhile on their date.  When he shows up he leads her to a booth (she’d been sitting at the counter) and proceeds to feel her up under her skirt. 
Mostly the same except that Hannah pushes him off and yells at him.
Zach was at the diner and tried to talk to Hannah after the incident with Marcus.  She blew him off.  In retaliation, he takes every positive note out of her bag in communication class.  In her tape, Hannah says that she really needed those notes because she was starting to think negatively.  In fact, she puts an anonymous note to the teacher that indicates she is thinking about suicide.  The class response is judgmental, not supportive.  Hannah sets a trap with her bag and confirms it is Zach taking her notes
Nearly the same as the book except that it is obviously Clay who is sending her notes.  When Hannah sets her trap she writes Zach a note and then yells “Why?!” at him in the hall.
Takes Hannah’s poem without her permission and publishes it in his Things I Found in the Hallway newsletter.  The poem indicates some suicidal tendencies and it gets discussed in every English class.
Publishes the poem.  The poems are not identical between the book and the show.
Clay finally gets up the nerve to let Hannah know how he’s feeling and they kiss at the party.  She shoves him off.  Says that she regrets not following through on things with him and that he doesn’t really belong on the tapes
Justin and Jessica are dating and Jessica gets very drunk at the party.  Justin leaves her alone in a room where Hannah is hiding (after her encounter with Clay but we don’t know that until a couple of episodes later) and she hears Justin and Bryce talking in the hallway.  Bryce wants to come in and have sex with Jessica.  Justin makes a couple of feeble attempts to stop him but eventually steps aside.  Hannah witnesses the rape and blames Justin for not protecting Jessica
Justin is NOT Jessica’s boyfriend, they have just started making out at the party.  He steps aside and allows Bryce into the room
Sheri (Jenny in the book)
Sheri offers to give Hannah a ride home from the party.  She does a cartwheel to prove she is not drunk.  On the ride home she runs into a stop sign, knocking it over.  Sheri refuses to call the police because she will be in trouble with her dad.  She drives off.  Hannah goes to a convenience store, makes the clerk loan her his phone, and calls the police.  She is relieved to hear that someone else reported an accident and assumes it was Sheri but, of course, it is not the stop sign accident to which the dispatcher is referring.
Jenny (Sheri in the series)                                          
Offers to give Hannah a ride home but doesn’t go out of her way to prove she’s not drunk.  Neither girl knows the boy at school who dies.
The two are in the bedroom at the party when Hannah starts thinking about all the other boys who have screwed her over.  She pushes Clay off and tells him to leave her alone but says on the tape that she was hoping he’d come back.  Still says that he wasn’t actually to blame.
Hannah goes to a party at his house and they have sex.  Hannah specifically says that although she was crying, she never said no nor did she push him away.  She is thinking about the least painful way to commit suicide and decides on pills.
After losing the bank deposit for her parent’s store, Hannah is wandering at night and ends up at Bryce’s house where a party is winding down.  She gets into the hot tub with others who leave.  Bryce comes into the hot tub and rapes her.
Mr. Porter
Hannah decides to try to get help one last time. She goes to her English teacher/guidance counselor and talks to him cryptically about her problems.  She says enough things that he understands she is talking about suicide but she changes what she says.  She talks about her reputation and he gets that she was taken advantage of by a boy.  He asks if she said no or pushed him away.  He asks if she had sex and now just regrets it.  He asks for the boy’s name but she doesn’t give it. He asks if they should contact her parents or the police.  When Hannah rejects that idea and makes it clear that she doesn’t feel there’s much the police can do and that she doesn’t want to file a report, Mr. Porter says that she really on has two options:  file a report or begin to move on.
Mr. Porter
The conversation with Hannah is pretty much identical to the one in the book.  Mr. Porter is only a counselor in the show, not an English teacher as well.

Most of the other differences are things added to the show that were not in the book. 

  • There is A LOT more focus on Hannah's parents.  The only time she mentioned them in the book in regards to her suicide is when she thought briefly about them finding her after she was dead.  In the series we see their grief in detail as well as their attempts to find out who's to blame for her suicide.  We also see that they are having financial issues trying to keep their pharmacy viable against a Walmart-type store.  They are working on a legal case against the school
  • Clay's parents - No significant mention of them at all in the book.  In the book he plays the tapes one right after another so there is less time for his family to notice he is acting strangely.  In the series they are around a lot.  In fact, Clay's mother is a lawyer who is hired by the school district to represent them in the lawsuit filed by Hannah's parents.
  • Tony is gay in the series.  No mention of his sexuality in the book.  He is still the keeper of the tapes in the book but he is less involved with the story overall.  For instance, there is no rock climbing scene in the book to help Clay get ready for what's to come next.
  • As I mentioned, the book takes place over the course of a few hours.  I'm not sure how many days it takes Clay to listen to all the tapes in the series.
  • The other teens and their reactions to Hannah's revelations are explored in depth.  They meet in small groups to discuss how to shut Clay up because they're worried about the tapes becoming public knowledge.  They try to intimidate him by taking his bike, forcing him to drink a 40 ounce beer, putting pot in his bookbag which gets him suspended, and beating him up a couple of times.
  • Clay takes a picture of Tyler undressing and circulates it to everyone in retaliation for what Tyler did to Hannah.  This action prompts the others on the tapes to step up their worries about what else he might do or reveal.
  • Tyler is collecting an arsenal and it looks like he has a hit list based on the pictures he has hanging in his darkroom.
  • Alex commits suicide at the end of the series.
  • Jeff (the boy who dies in the accident due to the missing stop sign) is a known character.  He is someone Clay is tutoring who encourages Clay to confess his feelings to Hannah on several occasions.
  • Courtney is a closeted lesbian. She has two dads and says she doesn't want to come out because it would be a cliche in some way?  I'm not sure exactly why she's so worried about coming out specifically other than the usual reasons you might be closeted.
  • Ryan is gay.
  • Sheri (Jenny) is working on penance for knocking over the stop sign and the accident it caused.  She is helping the elderly man who was in the accident with Jeff.
  • Skye is a waitress at the coffeehouse they all frequent and she talks to Clay fairly often.  In the book she is someone he used to know who appears to be slipping into being the kind of person the others overlook.  He calls out to her at the end of the book, apparently to start helping others who might be feeling unnoticed like Hannah.
  • Jessica is slowly falling apart after her rape but she doesn't know for sure she actually was raped.  Others have told her that Hannah was lying on the tapes about a few things so she goes along with that story for a good deal of the series even while she becomes more self-destructive.  It seems she is going to tell her dad what happened as the show is ending (the only point I cried, btw).
  • Hannah's method of suicide is to cut her wrists in a bathtub.

I Am Malala: How One Girl Stood Up for Education and Changed the World by Malala Yousafzai, Patricia McCormick

 I am late to reading Malala's story.  Prior to now I only knew a bit about her story but it turns out there was so much more to know.  For those who, like me, only know a bit, here is an overview.  Malala's father was the principal of three schools that he started all by himself.  He encouraged his children to go to school and to stand up for whatever they believed in - even girls, which was very unusual in Afghanistan.  Malala loved school and learning, competing with a friend for the top spot in class each year.  But when she was ten her region of Afghanistan that was taken over by the Taliban led by an Iman who preached strict adherence to Sharia law.  That meant extreme changes for women who were no longer allowed to go to the market or to school.  Malala began to be known as she gave interviews on TV speaking up for the right to go to school.  For quite awhile the government of Afghanistan left Malala's region to fend for themselves against the Taliban but eventually the army arrived to help and things returned to normal for a short while.  But the Taliban's influence continued to grow.  In October 2012 Malala was purposefully targeted on her way home from school when she was shot in the face.  Miraculously, she survived and continues her fight for education.

Malala's story is amazing and something that needs to be heard by my students who take so much for granted.  She is grateful for every day she gets to go to school and for many smaller things that would not even register for most Americans.  Her story is one that needs to be heard by everyone so that we can be vigilant against extreme voices that start as something small but eventually lead to widespread oppression.  Malala's town did not start out as a Taliban stronghold but people were swayed by a radical voice on the radio to start to take action.  Not all of us can be as brave and out there for our beliefs as Malala, but we can all do small things to stop hatred and oppression before it takes root.
The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing.
Read more at:
The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing.
Read more at: