Gather the Daughters

Gather the Daughter – Jennie Melamed

The lovely people of Bookbridgr sent me a gorgeous hardcover of this (seriously the dust jacket is beautiful) right around the time that the Handmaid’s Tale was wrapping up, it’s almost like they knew I would be hunting for something to fill the Offred sized hole that was left behind and this book, dear God this book. It, as the kids say, left me SHOOK.

GATHER THE DAUGHTERS tells the story of an end-of-the-world cult founded years ago when ten men colonised an island. It’s a society in which men reign supreme, breeding is controlled, and knowledge of the outside world is kept to a minimum. Girls are wives-in-training: at the first sign of puberty, they must marry and have children. But until that point, every summer, island tradition dictates that the children live wildly: running free, making camps, sleeping on the beach. And it is at the end of one such summer that one of the youngest girls sees something so horrifying that life on the island can never be the same again.

Honestly, I’m a bit lost as to where to begin with this. It was as hard to read as it was to put down.
That doesn’t explain a lot, does it?
Sorry, let’s try again.

This book reminded me of lots of other things, but at the same time it was so original. What we have is a cult like community where the patriarchy rules, each family is given their own profession, couples are paired up and allowed two children and when they become too old to be useful, they are put out to pasture. They are confined to their island and are not told anything of the world outside, much like The Giver, which is one of my faves. The only freedom allowed is for those considered children, every summer they’re allowed to live as though feral, in an almost Lord of the Flies kind of way. The adults remain inside and those girls unfortunate enough to start menstruating have to do their summer of fruition, which, like in Only Ever Yours, is when they’re gathered up and presented to a group of single men to be picked and matched up. By winter they’re likely married and pregnant and the cycle continues. In this society the birth of a boy brings celebration, the birth of a girl brings sorrow for before the girls belong to their husbands they belong to their fathers. Yes that sentence is heaped with innuendo and here’s the part where I chuck you some trigger warnings. This is a society where child molestation and sexual assault are not only normal but are insisted upon. There is also a character with an eating disorder, just fyi.

The story is told from the point of view of four girls aged between 17 and 13 living in this society and one of them sees something they’re not supposed to which throws this whole community into turmoil. Now you can see why it was so hard to read, these girls’ lives are horrific but Jennie Melamed tells it with such subtlety that it creeps its way into your subconscious and haunts you. Her author profile tells me that she’s a psychologist that works with abused children and you can tell that she’s someone who understands the sensitivities and employs them with care. A lot of the incidents in this book are inferred, nothing is gratuitous. The bio also tells me that she owns three shiba inu’s and frankly, that’s brilliant.

Gather the Daughters is a wonderful and horrific book (can that be possible?) that should be a must for anyone who’s into their dystopians or is interested in reading more about cults.

Here’s another thing, this hasn’t been done in a while, but this was so good it gets a Nick Fury Seal of approval.

Easy Way Out

Easy Way Out – Steven Arnold

When I requested this from bookbridgr, I only had a vague idea of what it was about and it turned out to be so much better than I anticipated! Though I do need to go through a few trigger warnings with you!

If you could help someone in pain, would you?
Evan is a nurse, a suicide assistant. His job is legal . . . just. He’s the one at the hospital who hands out the last drink to those who ask for it. 
Evan’s friends don’t know what he does during the day. His mother, Viv, doesn’t know what he’s up to at night. And his supervisor suspects there may be trouble ahead.
As he helps one patient after another die, Evan pushes against legality, his own morality and the best intentions of those closest to him, discovering that his own path will be neither quick nor painless.
He knows what he has to do.
In this powerful novel, award-winning author Steven Amsterdam challenges readers to face the most taboo and heartbreaking of dilemmas. Would you help someone end their life?

So, now you’ve seen the blurb, you know why I think a little warning might be needed here. This is a book about assisted suicide, there are many instances of terminal illness, dying and hospitals, there is also some very explicit sex in there. Not that that’s a big problem, but sometimes its just not expected, you know?

Regardless of how you feel about assisted suicide and the right to die, I’m pretty sure you wouldn’t think that a book about it could be enjoyable, but honestly, I’m not sure how Steven Arnold does it, but this book manages to engaging, warm and in places, funny, whilst dealing with the moral and practical sensitivities surrounding assisted suicide. It was interesting to see the subject from both sides and also to see what life is like working in a busy hospital and how difficult it is to care for people that you know aren’t going to get any better. I think one of the reasons why this book worked so well is that the author is a nurse and knows this world only too well.

While I would say that I don’t think this book is for everyone, it is a great read and certainly offers up an interesting subject.

July roundup

July began with that huge change that we talked about in June, I started my new job! This month has mostly been learning about robots, amongst other things! This month saw the fourth anniversary of my book’s release, you can check out Harley’s Angels on the sidebar if you know… You like! It was great for movies, Spider Man, Baby Driver and Dunkirk are all amazing, it was the month we got a new Doctor and DEAR GOD THEY’RE FINALLY A GIRL! I also headed into London at the end of July to attend YALC and try and fail to stop myself buying ALL THE THINGS. I made a little thing about my YALC swag, check it here!

What I read this month:

When it happens to you – Molly Ringwald
So, Molly Ringwald can act, she’s fabulous and she can write! I’m not sure how to explain this book, the story is presented in a really interesting way – so we have a collection of what is essentially a series of short stories, but all the characters over lap into each other’s stories and are some how related and complement each other’s lives. It is engaging and addictive reading and how I hope Molly Ringwald has another book in her because I really loved this!

The Power – Naomi Alderman
If you’re looking for something to follow the Handmaid’s Tale, this is kinda perfect.  I think that, this and Only Ever Yours are the feminist novels we have longed for this whole time. What we have is a novel set out almost like a research paper of a phenomenon where women all over the world suddenly develop the power to harness and use electricity and how they use it to overturn the patriarchy. Utterly genius and made me think a lot about how different life would be if women were the dominant gender.

The Song of Achilles – Madeline Miller
I picked this up because long ago I was given a list of things to read and on it were many retellings of the Iliad (which I’ve never read) so when I saw this in the library I thought I’d give it a go… While the story was interesting, I didn’t like the way it was written, it had a lot of short sentences which made the pace a bit juttery and kept taking me out of the action. Think I’d like to give more books like this a go though!

Strange the Dreamer – Laini Taylor
Dear God, this is my favourite book of the year. I’m not even adding a ‘so far’ on the end of that because I don’t know if I’m going to be able to find anything else that quite matches up to this. I did tell myself that I wouldn’t buy any more books until I’d read everything on my shelf and gotten rid of what I don’t want any more, but honestly, I am breaking that because I need this in my life especially so I have it to re read for when the sequel comes out!

Optimists Die First – Susan Nielsen
I’ve read Susin Nielsen before and this was very similar in tone, it was a sweet, flippant tale of a young girl with anxiety dealing with the aftermath of a traumatic event and the odd characters she comes across during her therapy sessions. While this was a fun, easy read, I did think that the whole anxiety thing was dealt with a bit too easily. If only my own mental health problems could be solved by a tall boy with a bionic arm. Once the story’s big reveal came about it was all wrapped up very quickly and nicely, I’d have rather spent a bit more time on it, but it was a fun read nonetheless.

The One We Fell in Love with – Paige Toon
I was really looking forward to reading this because everyone tells me they love Paige Toon, but honestly, wtf did I just read? This is the story of three identical triplets who fall in love with their childhood next door neighbour… who is also in love with all three of them and at one point in the novel kisses two of them 24 hours apart. Like… I’m supposed to think this is romantic? He’s a douchebag. Anyone who dates you and when not dating you is going after your sister is a douchebag. These girls deserve better. No one should read this and think of it as romance and aspirational. Don’t fall for emotional fuckwits who don’t respect you enough not to bang your family members! I know there is a big reveal that some how makes it ok but no. Really no. Its a shame because I liked her writing style but the story didn’t sit right with me.

The Jane Austen Book Club – Karen Joy Fowler
As Jane Austen got herself on the ten pound note this month and was listed as Andrea Leadsom’s favourite living author. Yes, seriously. This is a woman who tried to become prime minister and she thought Jane Austen was still alive and writing. Anyway. This was a nice quick read, but I’m not really sure what exactly Jane Austen had to do with it?

Easy Way Out – Steven Amsterdam
I was sent a copy of this by the lovely people over at Bookbridgr and while I had a vague idea what the book was about, I really wasn’t prepared for this at all. I have a review coming for this if you’re interested, but for now here are a few trigger warnings for you because you know I can’t be recommending people things without letting you all know if there is content that might hurt you. This is a book about assisted suicide, there is also some explicit sex in there and lots of mentions of terminal illness and hospitals. Just so you know.

Films I watched this month:
You may have noticed if you follow me on twitter, have been keeping up with my Film reviews in 10 tweets or less posts or this video, that I really like films and that I spend a lot of time watching them, so here are all the films (some new, some rewatches) that graced my television/cinema screen this month!

  • The Circle
  • Baby Driver
    This is my new favourite film, please see it!
  • Spiderman: Homecoming
  • Escape from Planet Earth
  • While we’re Young
  • To the bone
  • Captain America Civil War
  • The Amazing Spider Man
  • Dunkirk
    mate what a film!
  • War for the Planet of the Apes
  • Before I fall

TV I watched his month:

  • Doctor Who
  • Handmaid’s Tale
  • Rick and Morty
  • House of Cards
  • Ripper Street
  • Game of Thrones
  • Shadow hunters

My favourite Instagram posts this month:

baby driver more like bae-by driver

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four years has passed since harley's angels came out – head to leahsmith.webs.com/my-books to get a copy!

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playing frome festival tonight

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thanks for the awesome book post @bookbridgr

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So. Many. Books

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What I did on YouTube this month:

What I loved on YouTube this month:
Firstly, Dan Howell and Anthony Padilla’s collab was hilarious! Here’s more D Hizzle because he is bae, ok? Also because I literally only joined Tinder so I could find him and charm him with my awkwardness and then I left because I couldn’t find him and then this. Damnit Daniel. Why not fill this whole section with his face to hide my disappointment, here’s Anthony, Dan or a Rat for your pleasure and a PSA on former emos.  Not had enough yet? Here’s TomSka’s latest sketch! I also want to mention Lucy Moon’s latest 168 Hours and James Cordon’s protest song because yes.

My weekend at LFCC and YALC

Hello there chaps, chapettes and those who identify as neither, how the devil are you? It feels like forever since I last opened WordPress, I’m going to assume you’ve missed me. But you know, it’s fine if you didn’t. Anyway, you good? Good. Now, let me tell you about my weekend where I spent a day hanging out with a bunch of nerds in London and then ended up hanging out with another bunch of nerds in my home town!

I’ve spent the past few days mostly sat in various train stations around the South of England because I went to LFCC AND YALC! I did visit a few years ago when it was in a different venue and much like last time, I did spend a huge amount of time wondering around in awe at all the cosplayers. My favourites this time around was a large group of Rick and Mortys who all decided to hang out together singing Get Schifty, the family that came dressed as Guardians of the Galaxy with the parents as Star Lord and Gamora and the children as Drax and Groot and their baby as Rocket. How did they get a tiny Rocket costume?! I also enjoyed a couple who came as Deadpool and Spider Man who spent most of their time holding hands and skipping around the convention together and the Newt Scamander I stood next to in the queue for the bathroom.

Honestly, I spent most of my time on the second floor of the building at the YALC where I visited a load of publisher stands and got all the swag below!

I’m actually very proud of myself for only buying two things from the whole event! There were so many things I wanted to buy! Though I missed the panel I wanted to see, I did get to listen to many authors, including a bunch of my favourites, talk about everything from their latest work, to romance, to bending genres and making it work for them – fascinating stuff! I was super sad I had to leave before Non Pratt had her head shave witnessed by Benedict Cumberbatch (yes, that is a thing that happened, the Twitter moment that was put together was a work of art).
I did check out LFCC too and got to see Christopher Lloyd posing next to a Delorean, Alyson Hannigan hanging out at her booth, Sylvester McCoy heading to his talk and squeed a bit too hard at the display of Back to the Future costumes and props. One day I will learn to go all three days and enjoy the whole event. Also one day I’d like to be able to source/make an awesome costume because honestly cosplayers are the coolest. I want to be that cool! After traipsing through London in the rain to get my train home and then sitting on a platform wishing GWR would get their shit together and run their trains on time, I met up with a group of nerds I’m more acquainted with to see Woody Harrellson fight some monkeys. So, pretty successful weekend I’d say!

Like The Handmaid’s Tale? Check these out!

Do you know what the internet is missing? More posts like this /end sarcasm.

Anyway, the TV adaptation of The Handmaid’s Tale is on at the moment and so everyone has done a similar post, but there are always more books to recommend am I right?

So, here are a collection of books I think you might like if you’re enjoying the Handmaid’s Tale.

The obvious one to go with is 1984, so instead of including it on this list, I’ll do some honourable mentions first, so you know, if you haven’t read 1984, then you totally should especially if you are a fan of dystopia. Other honourable mentions would go to Fahrenheit 451, the Hunger Games trilogy, the Divergent trilogy and the Flawed series, which yes, are all YA books, but show a society that are strictly governed. I’d also mention Children of Men, you know, cos the whole no kids being born thing. Anyway, on to the real list.

I’m going to start off with The Giver by Lois Lowry, it’s the first in a series, but I think the book stands well enough on its own. Like the Handmaid’s Tale, we have a very strictly regimented society in which everyone is given a job to do when they reach a certain age. For example, again like in the Handmaid’s Tale, certain people are picked out for giving birth, others are picked out to look after babies which are then assigned to family units. The story follows Jonah who is given the job of keeping all the memories of the world before and with the knowledge he acquires, he tries to escape the society in search of something better.

Second up, The Power by Naomi Alderman, which I only read recently but bloody hell, that was good!
The Power is a novel based on research notes (kind of like The Handmaid’s Tale is a bunch of people analysing Offred’s account of what happened to her.) of a phenomenom that happens to only women and the evidence of it dating back to biblical times. The women in this novel all have what appears to be an extra organ near their collar bone that allows them to shoot electrical charges at will and follows the stories of four people living through more trying times where war is breaking out and women are becoming the more dominant sex. It’s a very interesting novel and raises a lot of questions about what the world would be like if the roles in things like rape culture were reversed.

Never Let me Go by Kazuo Ishiguro, now I wouldn’t normally say this, but I think watching the film immediately after reading the book is highly recommended, I certainly thought the two complimented each other well. This is kind of a deviation because while society as a whole largely appears to be the same as… Well, normal life, there are moments in this where you get the feeling something odd is happening and then when you realise, the subtly makes it all the more haunting.

Next, here’s a sci fi dystopia, Philip K Dick’s Do androids dream of electric sheep? Yes. It is the book that inspired Blade Runner, so I guess you could just watch that because Harrison Ford. Or the new one because Harrison Ford and Ryan Gosling, but whatever. Like all Philip K Dick’s books, this has a lot of government conspiracy related stuff going on amongst the awfulness of general life. This is the story of a world ruined by nuclear war, it follows Rick Deckard who has to find and take out some androids to earn enough money to be able to have a pet because pets are a status symbol due to mass extinctions following the whole nuclear thing. It also features the whole Turing Test thing which to nerds like me is endlessly fascinating.

Finally, Only Ever Yours by Louise O’Neil, which if you’ve not read the Handmaid’s Tale would be a great book to read either immediately before or immediately afterwards. I would describe it as being the YA version, but perhaps even creepier because these are all children that are being groomed into the ‘perfect’ female to then either be selected by rich men or be cast out. Also, while it isn’t technically the same genre, you should also totally read Louise O’Neil’s other work because sweet jesus, she is good.

So there you have it, some books to read if you’re enjoying The Handmaid’s Tale.

 

June Round up

Well, here we are six months into the year and wow has this been one of those months. Firstly, we had the General Election, or as I like to say, the day Theresa May scored a phenomenal own goal, we had all the ups and downs of the fall out of the election and then the tragedy of Grenfell and all that went with it. I don’t really know what to say, other than I hope that this is the thing that puts an end to profits before people. There were some fun moments in a month of uncertainty and anger though, like getting to see George Ezra debut some of his new material and hanging out with some old friends. I also did a big scary thing this month – I handed in my notice! By the time you guys read this it will be the start of July and I will no longer be working as a journalist, instead I’ll have moved into marketing at a new company, I’m very scared, but as I’m constantly told, if things don’t scare you, they aren’t worth doing.  Guess we’ll find out how that’s all going in the next one of these!

What I read this month:

Hag-seed – Margaret Atwood
With the Handmaid’s Tale being on TV at the moment, I was looking into getting some extra Atwood in my life. I’d been interested in reading this ever since I saw Sanne over on Books and Quills talking about this and a few other Shakespeare retellings which were released a little while ago, so when I spotted it at the library, I chucked it onto my pile. This is the retelling of the Tempest, which isn’t one I’ve read before, I would like to track that down at some point so I can compare the two and of course, I want more of the Hogarth Shakespeare collection in my life!

Free at last, the diaries 1991- 2001 – Tony Benn
I’ve always admired the work of Tony Benn and this was a gift from my grandad many moons ago that has sat on my shelf for way too long, (I’m not allowing myself to let my bookshelf get untidy, so I must read everything on it that I haven’t read and give away the ones I won’t read again before I am allowed to go anywhere near a bookshop.) so  I figured I’d give this a read while the election campaign was going on. It really is a  fascinating read and I wish I’d started it sooner, also that I had more of Benn’s diaries sat on my shelf to work though. This was interesting from a political point of view in the sense that I learned a lot about a period of politics I didn’t know a lot about before and also got to see life in the commons, which I’d not come across before. There was of course the shade thrown at New Labour and hearing about the various things going on in Benn’s life which were also very engaging. I would be interested to read more books on socialism – anyone read Bernie Sanders’ book? Any good? – before moving on to other ideologies!

Release – Patrick Ness
I love Patrick Ness. Like, really love him. I think he might be my favourite author, I think I’ve read pretty much all the Patrick Ness available now and  I have loved all of them and this was no exception. This was recommended to me by Amazon, so of course, I downloaded it. Their one click buy thing is really quite dangerous and doesn’t help with my plan to read everything on my bookshelf and tidy it up. Anyway, this is loosely inspired by Virginia Woolf’s Mrs Dalloway (which I’ve read) and Judy Blume’s Forever (which I’ve not), Mrs Dalloway is a stream of conscious type novel that takes place over the course of one day and while Release takes place over the course of one day, it isn’t stream of conscious and has slightly connected story intertwining with the main story, I don’t know if that’s the Forever aspect, but what I do know is that this book was amazing and I would do a review, but its so incredible I am kind of lost for words!

Speaking out: Lessons in life and politics – Ed Balls
From Tony Benn to Ed Balls, I figured I might as well work my way through the whole of the Labour party. I’ve enjoyed Ed Balls as a public figure (who doesn’t love Ed Balls Day and his rendition of Gangnam Style?) but I didn’t know all that much about him and having read about the political landscape in the nineties and early noughties, I thought I’d learn about more recent times when I saw this at the library (again, not helping myself with the tidying of the bookshelf). While this was an interesting insight into life in politics, especially about how the civil service and the treasury worked, there were a few moments that had me despairing. I don’t know if it was the way the stories were presented, but I think I preferred the more intimate nature of Benn’s book tbh.

I am Malala – Malala Yousafzai
I think this should be required reading, like seriously, jesus christ, not only because Malala is an incredibly inspirational and intelligent young woman who has a lot of wonderful things to say about education and women’s rights to it, but because if, like me, you are a Brit, it is very easy to be ignorant to the world around you – it isn’t in the best interests of the people in charge for you to know too much about other cultures and this was so interesting learning about Pakistan and the different people who live there and its culture. It was also fascinating to learn about someone who had first hand experience of their religion being hijacked by extremists and living in close quarters to people who felt that way. I have many thoughts about this, so I wrote a whole thing, check it out.

The Misinterpretation of Tara Jupp – Eva Rice
Ok, so at the end of the month, I stopped pratting about at the library and on my kindle and started reading the stuff I had laying around on my shelf. Go me. I feel like I’ve had this book on my shelf forever, I picked it up in a discount book store because the cover is pretty and from the blurb, I expected the tale of a vicar’s daughter breaking into the music industry in the sixties and finally feeling equal to her older sister. Well, over half way through this book and she still hadn’t sung in front of anyone, let alone made it out of childhood. I just found the whole thing dragged on with lots of unnecessary stories, when what I was there for was the shock of suddenly being in a whole new world. The people of goodreads seem to love it and while the atmosphere of the novel is great, I just… I don’t get it. It couldn’t decide what the main story arc was or who the main character is and it really didn’t need to be as long as it is, the story could have been told better in fewer pages with less of the meandering about. The only misinterpretation of Tara Jupp I could see was whoever designed the cover and wrote the blurb, because they clearly didn’t read the book first. It isn’t a bad book, it is just very slow. Too slow for what the blurb promises. It’s exactly the sort of thing I’d recommend my grandmother.

Handle with Care – Jodi Picoult
I don’t think I’ve read any Jodi Picoult before this, but I’ve always meant to. Which is probably why I picked this up and then left it gathering dust on my shelf for ever. I remember buying this. I was 20 and I’d picked it up in a charity shop before going to work at my shop job because it was a Thursday night shift and I’d forgotten my kindle charger. I am 28 now. I’ve had it that long and not managed to finish it, until now. It was interesting to read about Willow and her life because I’ve never come across anyone with OI before, but I had the same problem with this as I did with Me Before You in that it made me feel a bit… icky about the way that able bodied authors are portraying disabled people.

Films I watched this month:
You may have noticed if you follow me on twitter, have been keeping up with my Film reviews in 10 tweets or less posts or this video, that I really like films and that I spend a lot of time watching them, so here are all the films (some new, some rewatches) that graced my television this month!

  • Insurgent
  • Lady Chatterley’s Lover
    I read the book what feels like a lifetime ago and I spotted that two versions of the film were on Netflix, so I whiled away a Sunday checking out the BBC adaptation.
  • The Propaganda Game
  • American Beauty
  • Under the Sun
  • Amazing Spider Man 2

TV I watched his month:

  • House of Cards
  • Handmaid’s Tale
  • Doctor Who
  • Pretty Little Liars
    Now I feel like I need to rewatch the entire thing because seriously, wtf happened?
  • iZombie
    THAT FINALE THOUGH!!

My favourite Instagram posts this month:

live broadcasting rn from a field

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❤️💛💚💙💜

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the end of an era

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Had a little going away party at work because I’m well… going away to another job! Getting my P45 and watching other people come in to interview for my position has been SUPER WEIRD.

What I did on YouTube this month:

What I loved on YouTube this month:

While the election is over now, I have the mention this video from LukeisnotSexy, James Corden spent the day working at Harrods which I’m sure was way more fun than actually working at Harrods, Louise Pentland made a very special announcement and her video telling her friends made me cry a bit! This video from Dan(iel) Howell was a bit too real tbh but I’m listing it anyway. Anthony Padilla has left Smosh and gone solo, his return to YouTube as just himself was very funny. Finally, Jack and Dean’s latest sketch was very on point.

I am Malala

I am Malala: The Story of the girl who stood up for education and was shot by the Taliban – Malala Yousafzai and Christina Lamb

This had been on my TBR ever since I first heard the news of Malala and what had happened to her and was one of the books I wanted to begin my quest of non fiction with. Here we are almost a year later and we’ve finally gotten around to reading it after finding it at the library and bloody hell, I would feel like I had done the world a great disservice if I didn’t put it out there that this should be required reading.

I come from a country that was created at midnight. When I almost died it was just after midday.
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 has become a global symbol of peaceful protest and the youngest-ever Nobel Peace Prize laureate.
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 don’t need to tell you that women’s rights, including their right to education and their right to live as equals are under threat all over the world. Yes, in some places more than others, mostly in lands that are hugely far removed from anywhere I have ever been. For anyone that doesn’t know, Malala is a young girl from Pakistan who found herself being denied an education when the Taliban took control of the area where she lived. I don’t need to tell you that the Taliban don’t have everyone’s interests at heart either, I live in the west, so I am constantly being told that the Taliban are the enemy and this book doesn’t sway from that narrative. Malala, with the help of her father, who was an outspoken man who believed in equality and the provision of education for all, stood up for herself and girls everywhere living under Taliban rule, speaking out about the way in which women were denied the right to education and denied the right to go about their business. She was then targeted and shot in the head by the Taliban. (That’s not a spoiler seeing as it is literally in the title of the book) I said this should be required reading and honestly, Malala is an inspirational young woman, but her beliefs and her strength aren’t the only reasons why this should be read by everyone.

This book not only covers Malala’s story, but also the history of Pakistan, which I knew nothing about – how did I not know that Pakistan has only existed since 1947?! It also talks about the culture of Pakistan and in particular, Swat, the area that Malala lived, from reading this I now know a little more about the different tribes that made up the country, as well as how the Taliban came to be and how they managed to take control. Reading about life under Taliban rule was in equal parts horrifying and interesting. It reminded me so much of books I’ve read about life in Germany after the Nazi rise to power. I have seen people who have reacted with scepticism about this book in regards to how much Malala wrote herself and if any of the events were embellished, as well as making the point that life in Swat is not indicative of the whole of Pakistan and while to some extent I agree that despite her home being besieged, Malala was better off than many people living in Pakistan – there are many girls all over the world who do not have access to education. I’ve seen the same argument about Emmeline Pankhurst, yes she was wealthy and of a higher status in life than many of England’s women, but without her, what voice would women at the time have had? Whether or not you fully believe Malala’s account, she is a great role model for young women every where and a  wonderful advocate for education and this book is an eye opening look at a country that I’d not previously heard anything about.