Becoming by Michelle Obama is a bit of a departure from my usual reading material. I rarely read biographies and when I do they are usually written by female comedians and are full of laughs. But Becoming hooked me from page one. It was written with so much warmth, personality and wisdom. I loved learning more about Michelle Obama’s life and getting a peek into what it was like living in the White House and being the First Lady of the United States.
I remember watching President Barack Obama’s first inauguration on TV. I was living in the UK at the time and it was one of those moments that I knew I’d remember forever. Even though I am Australian, it was just such an historic moment to see America elect their first African-American president. Since that time, I have always been fascinated by the Obamas.
Becoming tells Michelle Obama’s story from her childhood through to present day. I enjoyed reading about Michelle’s childhood growing up with her parents and brother in a small apartment on the South Side of Chicago. From a young age she had such a strong work ethic when it came to getting a good education. She wanted to learn and succeed. She was determined and outspoken from an early age. Life wasn’t easy as her dad lived with multiple sclerosis. They didn’t own their own home. But her parents worked hard and made sacrifices to see that Michelle and her brother get a good education.
The memoir skips to Michelle’s time at Princeton, on to her first years as a lawyer, and then meeting and mentoring Barack Obama at the firm she worked in. Becoming gives the reader a glimpse into their early years as a couple and gives Michelle’s perspective on being the girlfriend — and later wife — of a truly brilliant man who was always going to go places. Michelle might downplay it a bit in the book, but it must have been so tough on her to have a husband who spent more time away in the world of politics then he was at home. Then when kids came along, combined with her own high-powered career, it became even tougher.
I liked how Michelle didn’t sugar-coat some parts of her life and what it meant being a spouse of a politician. I thought it was admirable that while she always supported Barack, she had her own opinions and ambitions. A common refrain from Michelle throughout Becoming is that she’s not a fan of politics (neither am I). But she still stepped up to campaign for and support her husband.
I won’t go into too much more detail as I think this is a book you need to read for yourself. Whenever I read a memoir, I always wonder about what wasn’t included. I’m sure there was a lot that Michelle couldn’t say because of national security or to protect her family’s privacy, but this memoir still felt intimate to read. It felt like Michelle didn’t hold back on her thoughts and feelings. Even though she has done many extraordinary things, there was also a sense of the ordinary about her life as a woman, wife and mother.
Verdict: An intimate and inspiring look into the life of Michelle Obama.
Have you read Becoming? What did you think?
What biography/memoir do you recommend?