THE PLOT: We Are Displaced by Malala Yousafzai is a collection of real stories from refugee girls around the world. From Yemen, Myanmar, Syria, Iraq, Colombia and more, this book gives an insight into the global conflicts tearing communities apart. The girls featured in this book have lost their homes, relatives and communities, but they have each managed to find the strength to speak out against injustices on the behalf of others. According to the latest figures from UNHCR, more than 44,000 people a day are forced to flee their homes, and 68.5million people are displaced worldwide. Here are some of their stories.
RATING: I wept as I read this book. I could easily give it five stars, but I think that’s a disservice to the girls and women who have contributed to it. We Are Displaced is so powerful, it goes beyond star ratings. It is a universal must-read. And I can only borrow Malala’s words from the prologue to do it justice:
“I share my story of being displaced, not out of desire to focus on my past, but to honour the people I’ve met and those I’ll never meet. I wrote this book because it seems that too many people don’t understand that refugees are ordinary people.”
GOOD BITS: The strength of the girls and young women is the heart of this book. Not just what they have been through to escape violence, but the work they are currently doing to help others – from speaking at the UN General Assembly and becoming UNICEF ambassadors to working in refugee camps and training to be nurses. On its literary merits, I found the simple writing style and plain language incredibly easy to read. Each story is short and to the point, although you can tell even more suffering sits behind their words. Honestly, I read this book within 24 hours, and think anyone who starts it will race through it.
In particular, I was struck by the story of two sisters from Yemen (Zaynab and Sabreen). As I am very close to my own older sister (also called Zainnab) this story broke my heart. I cannot recount it; you must simply read it. I was also moved by the role of parents, from those who literally sacrificed their lives so their daughters may live to Malala’s father whose activism inspired her work from the beginning. These incredible role models have made these girls the resilient, powerful women they are today, and I love how this book honours that.
NOT SO GOOD BITS: Not applicable.
OVERALL: Everyone should read this book. It is critical that we all understand what is happening to girls around the world and reflect on what we can do to help. Coming off the back of a pandemic, we all know in some small way what it feels like to have your world turned upside down. Now, we must listen to those with the experience, knowledge and strength to fight. And we must all buy and read this book to support them in any way we can.
If I may borrow Malala’s words (again):
“ – the global refugee crisis is one sign among many – climate change, the pandemic, lack of access to education, poverty – that our world is calling out for help and change and hope. It is the younger generation, and girls and women like the ones featured in this book, who are answering.”
Thank you to @orionbooks for sending me a #gifted copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. The proceeds from this book will go to the Malala Fund, which is dedicated to helping refugees and girls across the world access education. It is available to purchase online here.