Malala Yousafzai is a Pakistani activist and the youngest-ever Nobel Peace laureate. Yousafzai shared her review of Fifty Words For Rain (Dutton, 2020), by Asha Lemmie, for our ongoing series of book reviews by leaders from the worlds of business, academia, entertainment and politics. See more reviews from leaders here.


Usually I take my time with books, but I found it very hard to step away from this story. Filled with mystery, music, sadness and adventures, Fifty Words for Rain flies by—yet lingers long after.

First-time author Asha Lemmie, 26, began writing this work of historical fiction, set in post–World War II Japan, in high school. I relate to the heroine, Nori, because I’ve certainly felt like an outsider at times. The central relationship here is not between romantic partners but rather siblings—Nori and her older halfbrother, Akira. I found that striking: Why aren’t more fictional works about the bonds between siblings, one of the most formative relationships in life?

I chose Fifty Words for Rain as a selection for my Literati Book Club in large part because of this bond, brought vividly to life by Lemmie on every page. Anyone who has ever lost a friend—or, more happily, found a family—will love this beautiful story.