The 15-year-old Pakistani girl who survived an assassination attempt from the Taliban last year just secured a $3 million book deal for her memoir, I Am Malala. The book is due out in the fall, and in typical fashion, Malala pivoted off the book announcement to make a point about children's right to education, her primary cause. "I hope this book will reach people around the world, so they realise how difficult it is for some children to get access to education," she said. "I want to tell my story, but it will also be the story of 61 million children who can't get education. I want it to be part of the campaign to give every boy and girl the right to go to school. It is their basic right."
If $3 million sounds like a lot of money that's because it is. But Malala's also been to hell in back. It was less than six months ago that Taliban gunmen boarded her school bus in Pakistan's Swat Valley and shot her in the head. She was targeted for her persistent activism for educating women and promoting equal rights. In an excerpt from the book she describes that day in heart-wrenching detail:
I come from a country that was created at midnight. When I almost died it was just after midday. It was Tuesday, October 9, 2012, not the best of days as it was the middle of school exams, though as a bookish girl I don't mind them as much as my friends do. We'd finished for the day and I was squashed between my friends and teachers on the benches of the open-back truck we use as a school bus. There were no windows, just thick plastic sheeting that flapped at the sides and was too yellowed and dusty to see out of, and a postage stamp of open sky at the back through which I caught a glimpse of a kite wheeling up and down. It was pink, my favorite color.
Although she'd already won international acclaim for a secret blog she kept after the Taliban took control of her village, the shooting made Malala a household name, if not a hero. She survived the shooting and now attends school in Birmingham, England. Malala is also on the short list for this year's Nobel Peace Prize. That brings with it a heft sum of money, but few people doubt that Malala will use it for good. She's already put her life on the line in the name of her cause, and the teenager didn't hesitate for a second to pick up where she left off after she'd recovered. The money is inevitably secondary.