Author: Michelle Obama
Genre: Memoir, Politics,
First Publication: 2018
Major Characters: Michelle Obama, Barack Obama, Valerie Jarrett
Theme: Optimism, Growth, and Fulfillment; Community, Investment, and Hard Work; Race, Gender, and Politics; Marriage, Parenthood, and Work; Power, Privilege, and Responsibility
Narration: First person
In a life filled with meaning and accomplishment, Michelle Obama has emerged as one of the most iconic and compelling women of our era. As First Lady of the United States of America—the first African American to serve in that role—she helped create the most welcoming and inclusive White House in history, while also establishing herself as a powerful advocate for women and girls in the U.S. and around the world, dramatically changing the ways that families pursue healthier and more active lives, and standing with her husband as he led America through some of its most harrowing moments.
Along the way, she showed us a few dance moves, crushed Carpool Karaoke, and raised two down-to-earth daughters under an unforgiving media glare.
In her memoir Becoming, a work of deep reflection and mesmerizing storytelling, Michelle Obama invites readers into her world, chronicling the experiences that have shaped her—from her childhood on the South Side of Chicago to her years as an executive balancing the demands of motherhood and work, to her time spent at the world’s most famous address.
With unerring honesty and lively wit, she describes her triumphs and her disappointments, both public and private, telling her full story as she has lived it—in her own words and on her own terms. Warm, wise, and revelatory, Becoming is the deeply personal reckoning of a woman of soul and substance who has steadily defied expectations—and whose story inspires us to do the same.
Book Review: Becoming by Michelle Obama
Becoming by Michelle Obama is one of the most powerful memoirs ever written. It is not an inspirational one nor a controversial one not even a political book of secrets – the book’s strength lies in it’s simple candid ring side view of a stellar life of a woman of great importance.
Michelle Obama is truly a profound and phenomenal woman. She’s an ambitious, powerful, fierce and independent woman. We also get to see the other side of Michelle, the one that’s kind, compassionate and humble, the one that feels insecure and unworthy, and the one that has continuously used her pedestal to help others.
“Now I think it’s one of the most useless questions an adult can ask a child—What do you want to be when you grow up? As if growing up is finite. As if at some point you become something and that’s the end.”
Michelle Obama is an American icon. She recognizes how important it is to empower those who need an ally. Michelle Obama has given a voice, and a pedestal, to women and minorities; to those who need a helping hand to succeed. She recognizes that her own success relied heavily on the people around her who propelled her there. She takes nothing for granted, and she’s determined to give back what was given to her.
As Michelle Obama emphasises in the memoir Becoming, throughout her time as FLOTUS (First Lady of the United States), Michelle Obama has always made a point to present herself to the public as a human, as one of them. I really enjoyed getting to know her as a person – her quirks, her childhood, her flaws and her worries – and this intimacy somehow made me admire her even more. Her story is inspiring, and she is an inspiring person.
“If you don’t get out there and define yourself, you’ll be quickly and inaccurately defined by others.”
Michelle Obama is a really excellent writer. Some of her prose reads like a speech, speckled with political rhetoric and summaries of her and Barack Obama’s achievements. But that’s just some. When she would recount very significant emotional moments in her life, she would go into such specific depth and vivid detail, I could feel the emotions of suspense, disappointment, fear, frustration, hope.
I liked that she didn’t just focus the book mostly on her involvement in politics, on the time after Barack Obama was elected President and she entered the White House. She shares intimately about her childhood, her colourful family, her friends and her school experience long before she even met Barack, and those chapters show what a driven and empathetic person Michelle Obama is. And I just love the chapters where she really went into her relationship with Barack – how they met, what they mean to each other, even their disagreements about marriage – it’s cute and sweet, and also a mature reflection on a modern relationship.
“For me, becoming isn’t about arriving somewhere or achieving a certain aim. I see it instead as forward motion, a means of evolving, a way to reach continuously toward a better self. The journey doesn’t end.”
I really appreciate how honest and candid is Becoming by Michelle Obama. She talks plainly about her doubts about Barack winning, about her distaste for the US political system, about selfishly wanting more of him for herself and their daughters, about her anxieties about making real impact as a First Lady, about how hurt she was when the media attacked her and took her words out of context… even about her disgust for Trump. It was all so refreshing to read, and inspiring to know that she could still find hope in all the despair.
“Do we settle for the world as it is, or do we work for the world as it should be?”
Finally, I also appreciate how Michelle doesn’t assume that her reader knows a lot about US politics, significant incidents/events that shook the nation, and cultural traditions; she makes the effort to explain a little about some of the more complex systems and incidents. So Becoming by Michelle Obama was informative, too.