Book Club

Book Review: Becoming by Michelle Obama

February 6, 2019

It’s been awhile since I posted anything on the blog and this time it’s on purpose. One of my new year’s resolution is to be more present. So that means less screen time and more quality time with the family. I will still share things on the blog, but only when I feel I have something important to say or that will help someone else. I know the intent of blogs is to have content all the time, but since my blog is about my life I am choosing to hold back just a little. This year I’m so focused on growth, health and just being happy that I’ve decided to do things I enjoy again, which is reading.

So the first book review of the year starts off with a bang with Michelle Obama’s, Becoming. I’ve always admired Michelle Obama for her poise and intellect, but knew very little about her as a person. I knew that she was a lawyer and ivy league educated. I knew that during her time as the First Lady of the United States she focused her time on building programs that would help children become healthier through exercise and food. I also knew she had a sense of humor and could laugh at herself from watching her on Ellen. What I didn’t know was how she became the woman that so many people aspire to be.

Michelle LaVaughn Robinson grew up on the Southside of Chicago. Her family consisted of her mother, father and her older brother, Craig. Her father worked at the city water plant and her mother was a stay at home mom until Michelle entered high school after which she became a secretary. They lived on the upper floor of her great aunt’s house. Her parents would never own a home of their own, they preferred to have some savings instead of being “house poor”. They only had what was necessary and instilled in Michelle and Craig that they could be anything they wanted to be if they worked hard and got a good education. As a result, both children excelled in school and both went to ivy league colleges.

Michelle went to Princeton, like her brother Craig, then to Harvard Law. She was an associate at a law firm when she met Barack Obama who was her intern. It wasn’t love at first sight for her, but their mutual respect and admiration grew. They married on October 3rd, 1992 and had two daughters, Malia and Sasha.

This information about Michelle’s life is readily available if you google her name, but what this book does is so much more than tell her life’s story. It paints a real picture into the person she is. Growing up in a place where other were moving out of due to the drug and violence that was increasing in her neighborhood. She remained proud of her roots and where she came from. Where at many times she was the only African American woman in the room. She knew that people would doubt her so she had to better and smarter in order to get the respect from her peers and colleagues. It shows us a glimpse into what it was like to be the first lady where you lived almost in a self imposed cage, not being able to so much as have a cup of tea on the balcony without starting chaos. She talks about the struggles of maintain a marriage that is in the limelight and that takes all of her husband’s time leaving very little for their family.

It’s the way that she doubted herself every step of the way even though she was excelling in life. She never thought she was good enough and that lead her to work harder. She’s a powerful woman and with that came the downside of being attacked by political opposition as being an “angry black woman” or attacks on the way she looked and if in fact she was a woman. This is the woman that coined the phrase, “when they go low, we go high”, and she did that every step of the way.

I didn’t think that I would be able to relate to Michelle’s life because it’s so different and far from mine, but I did find common threads throughout that made me really see her as so much more than the former first lady. She is first and foremost a mom, trying to raise her children the best way she can. Raising them to be as normal as possible given their unique position. I related with her self doubts as I also struggle to know if I’m capable or good enough. She’s a sister and a daughter and a friend. She talks about the importance of having close girlfriends which has always been important to me. There are so many things that she describes that I identified with in this book that I wasn’t expecting to.

This book didn’t just give me a glimpse into her life, it gave me a glimpse into her soul. And what a beautiful soul it is. A MUST read book!

 

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