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Great Women’s Journeys: A Comparative Analysis of I Am Malala and Breaking Night

I Am Malala by Malala Yousafzai

In the vast realm of literature, certain stories have the power to inspire and captivate readers, leaving an everlasting impact on their lives. Books possess the remarkable ability to transport us to different worlds, offering profound insights into the human condition and shedding light on diverse perspectives. Two such seminal works, “I Am Malala” by Malala Yousafzai and “Breaking Night” by Liz Murray, have emerged as significant literary achievements, sharing the common thread of resilience in the face of adversity.

I Am Malala” chronicles the extraordinary journey of Malala Yousafzai, a young Pakistani girl who defied the norms of her society and fought valiantly for girls’ education. Growing up in the Swat Valley of Pakistan, Malala witnessed the oppressive regime of the Taliban, which sought to control every aspect of her life. With unwavering determination, she spoke out against the Taliban’s oppressive rule, resulting in a heinous act of violence against her. Despite being targeted for advocating education for girls, Malala’s spirit refused to be shattered, leading to her becoming an international symbol of resilience and hope.

On the other hand, “Breaking Night” delves into the gripping memoir of Liz Murray, who endured the hardships of growing up in the poverty-stricken streets of the Bronx, New York City. Abandoned by her drug-addicted parents, Liz faced unimaginable obstacles as she navigated her way through a world fraught with homelessness, hunger, and despair. Yet, amidst the darkness, she managed to find solace in education, eventually earning a scholarship to Harvard University. Through her incredible journey, Liz Murray showcases the indomitability of the human spirit and the transformative power of education.

While both books revolve around the theme of resilience, they explore it in completely distinct cultural and societal contexts. Yousafzai’s story delves into the vast gender disparities prevalent in certain societies, where access to education becomes a battleground for girls’ rights. In contrast, Murray’s experience exposes the harsh realities of growing up in poverty in a developed nation, challenging the notion that economic equality guarantees equal opportunities.

The purpose of this comparative study is to analyze and examine the parallel themes of resilience and education in both works, seeking to answer intriguing questions. How does the cultural context and societal expectations shape the protagonists’ struggles and triumphs? What universal lessons can be gleaned from their stories? By juxtaposing Yousafzai’s and Murray’s narratives, we will gain a deeper understanding of the inherent power of resilience and the transformative potential of education, irrespective of one’s background or circumstances.

As we embark on a journey into the worlds of Malala Yousafzai and Liz Murray, we invite you to explore their remarkable stories, empathize with their struggles, and marvel at their unwavering determination to overcome adversity. Through this comparative study, we hope to shed light on the indomitable human spirit and ignite a profound conversation about the universal pursuit of education and resilience in the face of seemingly insurmountable odds.

Brief Summary of Two Books

I Am Malala by Malala Yousafzai

“I Am Malala” is the autobiography of Malala Yousafzai, a Pakistani girl who fought for girls’ education and spoke out against the Taliban. The book takes the reader through Malala’s journey, from her childhood in the Swat Valley in Pakistan to her near-fatal attack by the Taliban and her subsequent rise as an international advocate for education.

Malala grew up in a region where the Taliban enforced strict rules, including banning girls from receiving an education. Despite these limitations, she attended school and became an outspoken advocate for girls’ right to education. Her activism garnered international attention, but it also made her a target for the Taliban.

In 2012, Malala was shot in the head by a Taliban militant while on a bus going home from school. She managed to survive and was airlifted to the UK for intensive medical treatment. This incident further fueled her determination to fight for education and became a symbol of resistance against the oppressive regime.

Throughout the book, Malala provides insight into the challenges and limitations she faced growing up in a patriarchal society. She also shares stories of her supportive family, especially her father, who played a crucial role in nurturing her passion for education and equality.

“I Am Malala” showcases the power of education and the resilience of a young girl who refused to be silenced. It also highlights the ongoing struggle for women’s rights and the fight against extremism. Overall, the book is a testament to Malala’s courage, perseverance, and unwavering belief in the power of education to bring about positive change.

Breaking Night by Liz Murray

Breaking Night is a memoir written by Liz Murray, where she recounts her turbulent childhood and the journey of overcoming immense odds to eventually attend Harvard University. Born into poverty and drug-addicted parents in the Bronx, Liz and her sister struggled to find stability and basic necessities like food and shelter. With absent parents and constantly moving between shelters and the streets, Liz’s life was marked by instability and uncertainty.

Despite these challenging circumstances, Liz’s determination allowed her to maintain a strong drive for education and escape the cycle of poverty. She attended school sporadically, often relying on the kindness of friends and teachers to ensure she had a place to stay. Liz’s intelligence and tenacity earned her a scholarship to a prestigious private high school, where she faced the daunting task of catching up academically but ultimately excelled.

While balancing school, Liz also grappled with her mother’s deteriorating health due to HIV, eventually leading to her death. This loss served as a turning point for Liz, as she realized that her only chance for a better future was to strive for higher education. After completing high school, Liz applied and was accepted to Harvard University, fulfilling her dream and breaking free from the cycle of poverty.

Breaking Night is a powerful story of resilience and perseverance, highlighting Liz Murray’s triumph over tremendous odds and her determination to create a better life for herself. It showcases the importance of education, the strength of the human spirit, and the transformative power of hope.

Comparison between Two Books

I Am Malala by Malala Yousafzai

Similarities in Great Women

Both I Am Malala by Malala Yousafzai and Breaking Night by Liz Murray highlight the incredible strength and resilience of the female protagonists who overcome immense obstacles to achieve their goals.

1. Determination and Perseverance: Both Malala Yousafzai and Liz Murray exhibit an unparalleled determination to overcome the circumstances they were born into. Despite facing numerous challenges, they never give up on their dreams and work relentlessly to create a better future for themselves.

2. Educational Advancement: Education is a central theme in both books. Malala fights for the right to education in Pakistan and advocates for gender equality in education. Liz, too, prioritizes education as her way to escape the cycle of poverty and homelessness. Both women recognize the transformative power of education and strive to make it accessible to all.

3. Activism and Advocacy: Malala emerges as a prominent activist for girls’ education, leading to her becoming the youngest-ever Nobel Peace Prize laureate. Liz, though not as globally recognized, also advocates for social change, using her own experiences to shed light on the struggles of homelessness and poverty. They both use their voices to bring attention to important social issues.

4. Family Support: Despite facing challenging family circumstances, both Malala and Liz receive essential support from their parents. Malala’s father’s unwavering belief in education and gender equality, and Liz’s mother’s love and encouragement, play crucial roles in their journeys. The strong familial bond nurtures their determination and gives them the strength to overcome obstacles.

5. The Power of Resilience: Both Malala and Liz face extraordinary obstacles throughout their lives, including violence, discrimination, and poverty. However, they never allow these challenges to break their spirits. Instead, they harness their resilience to overcome adversity and emerge stronger individuals.

These remarkable women inspire readers through their stories of courage, determination, and resilience. Their shared focus on education as a tool for empowerment and their unwavering commitment to creating a better world make them exceptional role models for women everywhere.

Divergences in Great Women

Both “I Am Malala” by Malala Yousafzai and “Breaking Night” by Liz Murray share the common theme of resilience and the transformative power of education. These memoirs feature extraordinary women who faced challenging circumstances and overcame them to achieve greatness. However, there are significant divergences in the experiences and impact of these two remarkable women.

1. Background:

– Malala Yousafzai: Born in Pakistan, Malala grew up in the Swat Valley where she fought for girls’ education and spoke out against the Taliban. She survived a near-fatal attack and became a global advocate for education.

– Liz Murray: Born in the Bronx, New York, Liz faced extreme poverty and homelessness due to her parents’ drug addiction. Despite her difficult circumstances, she eventually attended Harvard University.

2. Targeted Oppression:

– Malala Yousafzai: Malala’s activism directly challenged the oppressive rule of the Taliban in Pakistan, who sought to silence her by ordering an assassination attempt. Her fight for girls’ education made international headlines and inspired millions.

– Liz Murray: While Liz faced hardships and neglect due to her parents’ addiction, her struggle did not involve fighting against a specific oppressive regime. Her story mainly focuses on her personal journey and determination to escape poverty.

3. Advocacy and Impact:

– Malala Yousafzai: Malala’s book, “I Am Malala,” became an international bestseller, bringing global attention to the importance of education, especially for girls. She went on to establish the Malala Fund, which campaigns for girls’ education worldwide, and became the youngest-ever Nobel Peace Prize laureate.

– Liz Murray: Liz’s memoir, “Breaking Night,” received critical acclaim and shed light on the plight of homeless youth and the impact of parental drug addiction. While her story is inspiring, Liz’s impact has been more localized, primarily inspiring individuals who have faced similar circumstances.

4. Global Reach:

– Malala Yousafzai: Malala’s activism and subsequent fame transcended national boundaries. She spoke at the United Nations and addressed world leaders, advocating for equal education opportunities for all children.

– Liz Murray: Though Liz’s story is powerful, her influence has primarily been felt within the United States and in academic settings, where she has shared her experiences with others.

These books highlight two incredibly strong and accomplished women. Malala Yousafzai’s story revolves around her battle against a specific oppressive force and her emergence as a global icon, while Liz Murray’s memoir focuses on her personal journey out of homelessness and how education played a pivotal role. Both women, through their experiences and resilience, have left an indelible mark on the world, inspiring others to overcome adversity and fight for their dreams.

I Am Malala by Malala Yousafzai


Both books, “I Am Malala” by Malala Yousafzai and “Breaking Night” by Liz Murray, are immensely powerful and inspiring reads. The choice between the two ultimately depends on what you are looking for in a book and which theme resonates with you more.

“I Am Malala” recounts the story of Malala Yousafzai, a young Pakistani girl who stood up for girls’ education in the face of the Taliban’s opposition. Her bravery and determination are truly remarkable, and the book sheds light on the struggles faced by young girls in certain parts of the world. If you are interested in the fight for education, women’s rights, and the resilience of the human spirit, “I Am Malala” is a great choice.

On the other hand, “Breaking Night” is Liz Murray’s memoir, chronicling her journey from growing up in extreme poverty and homelessness in New York City to eventually being accepted into Harvard University. This book explores themes of resilience, overcoming adversity, and the power of education. If you are interested in stories of triumph over difficult circumstances and the importance of perseverance, “Breaking Night” is a worthy read.

Both books offer different perspectives and tackle important societal issues, and both authors have overcome incredible challenges. Ultimately, the choice depends on your personal interests, but no matter which book you choose, you will undoubtedly be inspired and moved by these remarkable stories.

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