Hardcover, 426 pagesPublished November 13th 2018 by Crown
An intimate, powerful, and inspiring memoir by the former First Lady of the United States.
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, 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.
I just finished this PHENOMENAL book–seriously, probably THE best autobiography I’ve ever laid my hands on! It’s now in vogue–the coolest new trend–for people to write a book about their lives, and I respect that trend for allowing us to read more TRUE, REAL stories about REAL people. BUT, Becoming is the first autobiography I’ve ever felt I’ve truly connected with, learned from and became a better person for having read it. Within these pages, I both saw myself and re-found myself within Michelle Obama’s narrative; I saw myself in her story and have truly learned a few life changing lessons from this 421-page journey she’s shared with us. It is a rare thing, indeed, for me to be able to say that about any book—that I identified with the words, felt the words in a heartfelt way and came away changed because of those series of words on a page that had been so thoughtfully and candidly laid out.
I had the honor of going to see Michelle Obama on her book tour at her Washington D.C. stop the Sunday after Thanksgiving. (In an ironic full circle of events in my experience with this book, I went to see her speak with a friend I met on Goodreads who has become a very close friend of mine.) Michelle Obama was…everything. She was witty and frankly hilarious; she was open and forthright; she was graceful and dignified, a true orator and inspiration.
The tickets to this event sold out within hours–a completely filled arena, pictured above as it is starting to fill.
Both in her book and in her talks, she speaks openly about what it was like to be a young black girl from the South Side of Chicago—during the time when whites were fleeing the area and poverty seemed to be creeping its way in—to becoming a young woman at Princeton, unsure of her footing in the new social climate but still clinging to her rigidly drawn-up plan and schedule for her life (of which becoming First Lady was never a part).
I’d constructed my existence carefully, tucking and folding every loose and disorderly bit of it…I had labored over its creation. I was proud of how it looked. But it was delicate. If one corner came untucked, I might discover that I was restless. If another popped loose, it might reveal I was uncertain about the professional path I’d so deliberately put myself on, about all the things I told myself I wanted.
She walks us through graduating from college and enduring the loss of one of her best friends to an aggressive cancer at the young age of 26 years old and how this changed her outlook on the world and her path through it. Within these pages you’ll learn how she first met Barack Obama, a man who would change her world and ours in so many ways—how he arrived at work late that first day she was to mentor him, wet from the rainy day outside but still sure of himself and confident in a way that spoke of humility. From IVF to being a senator’s wife to the horrible shock of how dirty and personal politics can turn, Michelle Obama gives us an insightful glimpse into her journey into and out of the White House, her personal trek into becoming the icon she is today—a label she still humbly finds bewildering but that she has learned to hone for the betterment of our nation and the society-focused programs she has championed.
Throughout it all, Michelle Obama’s outlook is optimistic, her voice clear, witty, candid and insightful. How did she feel the first time she experienced life inside of the presidential motorcade? What fears did she have of exposing her daughters to the “maw” of public life? And how did she accommodate her outlook on politics –
I’ve never been a fan of politics, and my experience over the last ten years has done little to change that. I continue to be put off by the nastiness—the tribal segregation of red and blue, this idea that we’re supposed to choose one side and stick to it, unable to listen and compromise, or sometimes even to be civil.
–and her negative experience within the whirlwind of it—
A Fox news chyron referred to me as “Obama’s Baby Mama,” conjuring cliched notions of black-ghetto America, implying an otherness that put me outside even my own marriage. I was getting worn out, not physically, but emotionally. The punches hurt, even if I understood that they had little to do with who I really was as a person. It was as if there were some cartoon version of me out there wreaking havoc, a woman I kept hearing about but didn’t know—a too-tall, too-forceful, ready-to-emasculate Godzilla of a political wife named Michelle Obama.
–to achieve what she has, and with such grace, for our nation, the Democratic party, for children and for people (girls and women especially) of color?
Just as the insightful look at the viciousness of American politics will enrage you and make you question the leaders we’ve elected to power, so will Michelle Obama’s experience with the other side of her First Lady experience, the experience with the purity of spirit of genuinely good people—no matter their political affiliations, nationality or socio-economic status—move you.
One day in San Antonio, Texas, I noticed a minor commotion in the hallway of the military hospital I was visiting. Nurses shuffled urgently in and out of the room I was about to enter. “He won’t stay in bed,” I heard someone whisper. Inside, I found a broad-shouldered young man from rural Texas who had multiple injuries and whose body had been severely burned. He was in clear agony, tearing off the bedsheets and trying to slide his feet to the floor. It took us all a minute to understand what he was doing. Despite his pain, he was trying to stand up and salute the wife of his commander in chief.
As I read Becoming I HAD to read it with a pen and highlighter in hand, hence why it took me so long to complete it. I had to savor every word, go back and re-read passages. Just today, as I was nearing the epilogue, a woman sitting next to me asked, “What are you studying?” I turned the book over and told her, “Michelle Obama’s Becoming.” I hope that gives you an idea of the intensity and connection with which I read this book. To say that I highly recommend this book to any and everyone—especially to American women, women of color and people who have felt persecuted or “othered” by their upbringings or the color of their skin—would be a clear understatement. There is so much truth and integrity and raw emotion to be pointed out in this autobiography, but to do so here would be to write a whole book about the marvels of this book. What I will say is that this book earned an easy 5 stars before I’d even finished the preface and continued in its insightful excellence thereafter. There is truly something within these pages for everyone because, as Michelle Obama so elegantly states:
I’m an ordinary person who found herself on an extraordinary journey. In sharing my story, I hope to help create space for other stories and other voices, to widen the pathway for who belongs and why…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.
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