Becoming by Michelle Obama
3 words: engaging, personal, positive
I love books by accomplished women, and I love memoirs of life in politics. So I was really excited when a copy of Michelle Obama’s memoir showed up in my mailbox.
And while I knew I’d find the book fascinating, I was surprised by how quickly I was drawn in to the narrative — and how engaged I remained throughout the entire book.
The first thing that attracted me was that Obama’s narrative voice is very real; it’s like she’s telling you her story out loud. (I’ve heard the audiobook, which she reads herself, is pretty amazing.) Even on the page, her voice is natural and smart and funny and real.
And she begins the book with a scene from her life today — a scene so normal and insignificant that most of us have been there and thought nothing of it. She’s alone at home, and she’s making toast. And she’s reveling in the quiet and the freedom she feels in that small act — because for years, she’d been in a world where making toast while home alone was unimaginable. And her pleasure in that moment made me feel connected to her on a human level.
And I think that’s one of her key gifts — empathy (along with her brain and drive and desire to make a positive difference in the world).
So spending time with her on these pages was a pleasure.
The other aspect I found delightful is the way she describes her educational journey — from elementary through law school. And when she talks about not feeling good enough — again, that resonated. She’s honest about the struggles and the way she overcame the tough parts — and the loving support she received from her family, friends, and mentors.
And I always love reading memoirs that give insight into the relationships within a First Family. On these pages, Barack Obama is very human but also super impressive (largely because he’s so human).
And there were moments that made me laugh, such as her commentary on an event that occurred when they were dating. She describes him driving a bright yellow Datsun that shuddered to life and had a rusted out hole in the floor. “Life with Barack would never be dull. I knew it even then. It would be some version of banana yellow and slightly hair-raising.” (p. 122)
That’s good, right?
And reading about the emphasis she placed on raising her daughters… it made me like their family all the more.
So if you like reading about the life experiences of strong, smart women who’ve made a difference — or if you like reading about First Families — this is a wonderfully engaging narrative about the unusual experience of ending up in the White House.
Give this book a whirl if you like… memoirs of iconic women, First Ladies, remarkable women in their own right, behind the scenes, memoirs of strong African American women, memoirs of life in the political sphere
Anyone else a fan of memoirs by the First Family?