Chapters 15–16 Summary and Analysis
Malala documents her family's wrenching journey out of the Swat Valley. She recounts that those who fled became overnight IDPs (Internally Displaced Persons). Knowing that the journey would be difficult, Malala had been obliged to leave behind her beloved schoolbooks, while her brothers had to abandon their pet chickens. Malala relates that the exodus out of the Swat Valley was the largest exodus in Pashtun history. The Taliban allowed for only one path out of Mingora; all other roads were blocked off. Although many refugees were housed in Mardan and Swabi, Malala tells us that her family made their way to Shangla.
Meanwhile, Malala's father made his way to Peshawar to alert the authorities that the Pakistani army had done little to secure the safety and well-being of IDPs. On their own, Malala, her brothers, and her mother made their way to Karshat, Toor Pekai's village. In Karshat, Malala attended school with her cousins. There, she was considered an anomaly because of her independent ways. As the days progressed, the Pakistani army managed to wrest control of Mingora from the Taliban. Malala recalls that the family eventually reunited in Peshawar and traveled to Islamabad, where they stayed with Shiza Shahid's family. Later, Malala attended a meeting with the American ambassador Richard Holbrook to discuss the raging conflict in Pakistan. Malala sadly recalls that, in the midst of the turmoil, no one remembered her 12th birthday.
Malala documents her family's return to Mingora. She relates being shocked at the damage inflicted on the city. The Pakistani army and the Taliban appeared to have fought to the death on the streets of Mingora. Malala reports that her home was largely intact and her books unharmed. Her brothers were not as fortunate, however; their pet chickens had starved to death. Meanwhile, the Khushal School survived the conflict, albeit with anti-Taliban slogans written across its walls. Malala recalls fondly that, upon her graduation from Stanford, Shiza Shahid invited twenty-seven girls from the Khushal School to participate in workshops in Islamabad. In Islamabad, Malala was honored to be introduced to Muslim women in various professional settings and to meet Major General Athar Abbas, the Pakistani army's chief spokesman and head of public relations....
(The entire section is 1091 words.)