Read: Daring To Drive


I’ve always been drawn to stories from this continent. Their regimes have never quite deviated from the path where oppression and misogyny collide, to the point where basic human rights seem like a cloth, cotton, and button puppet holed up in a mythical dungeon, ready to consumed and swallowed by earth and disappear without any trace.¬† I’ve read quite a few books written by Saudi women (none from Saudi men had come across any radar, yet), but this is my first on the basic human¬†right to operate a moving vehicle – such a fundamental yet “an unspeakable act of moral defiance” (my own words).

When the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia lifted its ban on women driving, I knew I had shelved one tbr book that had something to do with women and driving. So I went googling for it and there she was, the game-changing, larger-than-life, Manal al-Sharif.

I liked the book because it provided a detailed, chronological account of her journey. She may not be the pioneer of the movement (there was another group in the 90s), but she sure as hell made it worthwhile. Social media, brave journalists, and supportive family and friends (especially men), and sympathetic government officials – they all contributed to the cause. Don’t forget that. It wasn’t just one woman’s fight, like how some reviews made it out to be. It wasn’t. It was a collective effort front by a brave woman who went against all odds to change history.

Times are changing.

Why I Chose Not To Read Christina Lamb’s Book on Malala Yousafzai

Marie Arana of The Washington Post wrote,

Co-written with Christina Lamb, a veteran British journalist who has an evident passion for Pakistan and can render its complicated history with pristine clarity, this is a book that should be read not only for its vivid drama but for its urgent message about the untapped power of girls.

The first thing that came to mind when this book was launched? “Wow, that was fast.”

Really fast.

Malala was shot by the Taliban on 9th October 2012.

The book came out on 8th October 2013.

Perfect timing. One year anniversary of a world-changing event.

Writing, finding and quoting sources, verying sources, manuscripts, fact-checking, agents, editing, publishing matters – etc. in no particular order. All under 12 months, not counting the time the subject matter needed to recover from her trauma and injuries.

I had to assume that the book was written in a rush. How deep was it, how strong was the narrative, did it cover multiple bases, sources, they all came to play in my park mind.

I chose not to give it the benefit of the doubt. Even if Christina Lamb is highly accomplished. Plus, I read early reviews. None of them impressed me. I recall a few stating that it wasn’t quite Malala’s voice, just Christina’s. But yes, I could be wrong. The reviews could be wrong, too, right?

So I waited. True enough, another book came out, this time, a children’s version by Patricia McCormick (“… Her books rely heavily on research and interviews), albeit in the same year. But the reviews were impressive.

And so I read it.

And it was a really damn good read. Even for adults. Five stars. For time, and effort.

p.s. I stumbled upon this while writing my post. Not really looking for any validation here, just that she’s read both versions so her points are definitely worthwhile.