Review: Becoming (Michelle Obama)
“For every door that’s been opened to me, I’ve tried to open my door to others. And here is what I have to say, finally: Let’s invite one another in. Maybe then we can begin to fear less, to make fewer wrong assumptions, to let go of the biases and stereotypes that unnecessarily divide us. Maybe we can better embrace the ways we are the same. It’s not about being perfect. It’s not about where you get yourself in the end. There’s power in allowing yourself to be known and heard, in owning your unique story, in using your authentic voice. And there’s grace in being willing to know and hear others. This, for me, is how we become.”Michelle Obama, Becoming (2018)
Becoming is the memoir of former First Lady of the United States, Michelle Obama. She was the first African American woman to serve as FLOTUS, and she helped to create the most welcoming and inclusive White House in history, as well as establishing herself as an advocate for women and girls in the United States and the rest of the world. During her time at the White House, she worked to encourage healthier and more active lifestyles, and she stood beside her husband as he led America through some of the most difficult times the country has faced.
Her memoir is split into three parts: Becoming Me, Becoming Us, Becoming More. She shares stories of her childhood on the South Side of Chicago, growing up with her family, her schooling and her time at Harvard. She describes how, when she was working at the Chicago law firm, Sidley & Austin, she was asked to mentor an incoming associate, called Barack Obama, who was late on his first day. She describes how their relationship began, how it grew and flourished, how they became parents and made their marriage work for both of them. She speaks very openly and honestly about the many years of campaigning, her concerns and the issues it raised, and she gives an incredibly unique insight into the world of politics and the affect it had on their family.
I had a great deal of respect for Michelle Obama before I opened the book, and now I’ve finished it, that admiration has only grown. There is such a warmth in her writing, and although her story is extremely unique, I think she has managed to write such an elegant and relatable way. I didn’t have the greatest understanding of how American politics worked, but I feel a lot more informed after reading the book, but it doesn’t overwhelm you with political jargon. There are some lovely anecdotes in the story, little insights into their lives which made me smile, and which many people in relationships can relate to:
“Each day brought small discoveries: I was a Cubs fan, while he liked the White Sox. I loved mac and cheese, and he couldn’t stand it. He liked dark, dramatic movies, while I went all-in for rom-coms.”Michelle Obama, Becoming (2018)
She told incredible stories of the people she has met on her journey, I loved her descriptions of her time spent with Her Majesty the Queen, and how a young composer named Lin-Manuel Miranda stood up at the White House and performed a piece from a new project described as a “concept album about the life of someone I think embodies hip-hop… Treasury secretary Alexander Hamilton.”
Before I read this book, I had no idea of just how much Michelle Obama had done. I knew she was a lawyer, and that she had launched Let’s Move!, but I had no idea how much work she had managed to juggle, while raising her two daughters and supporting her husband’s political career.
I would recommend this book to absolutely everyone. Yes, it has been extremely hyped up, but I truly believe it is worth the hype. It is humble, moving and an extremely powerful read.