Apart from being a phenomenal First Lady, Michelle Obama is an outstanding author and her second book ‘Becoming’ brings to light this talent as well as her formative years growing up in Chicago. I knew Becoming was a must read not because it’s about Michelle Obama’s life but because of the significance behind her life story.
Michelle didn’t come from money as most First Ladies of the United States Of America. On the contrary, she grew up in a rough neighbourhood in the infamous Southside of Chicago. She recalls living in a one-bedroom apartment with her nuclear family but still describes it as “wholesome”. For the beginning, you can see that Michelle Obama was never a victim of her circumstance. She recognized how hard her parents worked which drove her to work even harder.
In the book, she candidly describes the tenacity of the black working class. She recalls all the jobs she saw black people do while growing up – mowing lawns, plumbing, fixing cars. Her connection to this side of Chicago helped Barrack Obama so relatable to the black working class. She also addresses racism when she joined Princeton University as the only person of colour.
However, she learned how to “not feel intimidated.” At 25, she was a lawyer and this is where she met Barrack Obama. One of her senior partners asked her to mentor a student from Harvard University who was also black. She described him as “a guy with a big smile and a whiff of geekiness.” She knew that life with Barrack Obama would be full of adventure and that it was.
She adds in Becoming that she had little interest in politics during her childhood. In fact, she felt that politics was distasteful all the while Barrack aimed for the Illinois senator seat. By that time, they had their two daughters and Michelle was the dean at the University Of Chicago. It’s hard to think such a graceful First Lady wasn’t the biggest politics fan. Regardless, she supported Barrack’s bid for the Senate which he won.
Becoming takes the reader through a journey every ordinary Black American and black person, in general, has to go through to break the barriers. Additionally, it also tells the story of a woman who didn’t just want to settle for second best. She describes the hardships of balancing a demanding career and a family. She goes in-depth in her personal life, talking about her struggles with infertility, a miscarriage and how politics put a strain in her marriage.
All the while, she remained a strong, black woman – a pillar of hope for many aspiring, young girls. This book is an indication of the phenomenal woman that is Michelle Obama. We, as the readers, get to see what we never saw during Barrack’s presidency – a woman with her own individual life. Becoming shows the ‘behind the scenes’ of a First Lady. It shows the woman behind the position.
- Your background doesn’t determine your outcome in life. Michelle came from the “hood” and became a First Lady and a renowned legal scholar.
- Don’t judge a book by its cover. She points out that Barrack’s smoking habits put her off at first. Additionally, she didn’t like her first visit to Kenya but grew to love the country.
- Hard work really pays. From a young age, Michelle learnt the value of hard work from her parents and those around her.
- A woman can have a career and raise a family. When Malia and Sasha were born, Michelle had a highly demanding job and her husband was getting into politics. She talks about days where she felt lonely as a wife.
- Trust the process. She describes a number of hardships she had to face from racism, fertility problems and hating politics. However, everything worked itself out eventually.
If you love this book you should check out Born A Crime By Trevor Noah