This review first appeared on FutureFemaleLeader.com
After a very long waitlist at the library and a couple failed attempts to read the hardcover before switching to the audiobook, I finally finished the monster success that is Michelle Obama’s memoir Becoming and wow, all 19 hours were worth it. Whether you’re a staunch conservative or ardent liberal, if you love success stories and thoughtful insights into the White House, you need to read this book.
Also, it speaks volumes that this was the best-selling book of 2018 even though it only came out in November.
From her life growing up in Chicago relatively poor with a lot of desire to succeed to her life in the White House, Becoming is a candid, open-hearted memoir of Michelle Obama’s life. There’s heartfelt musings about falling in love with Barack, thoughtful parenting advice on raising her two daughters in the spotlight but out of the limelight, and more. There’s a lot of smart insight into her own life, her decision to not be a lawyer after getting her law degree, etc. I’ve always loved political-life memoirs like this, but it’s especially cool to read about events I actually remember living through from another perspective. The 2008 election, the 2012 re-election, Obama’s attempts at growing a garden, Malia’s college search, et cetera. Even though Obama probably isn’t my favorite politician, he and his family are absolutely fascinating and adorable and really wholesome and I loved reading about how their love story turned into a first family endeavor.
While a lot of the stories in this memoir are great, including her battle to get into Princeton (despite a very unhelpful guidance counselor, I can relate) and her falling for Barack, I particularly loved Michelle Obama’s insight into the things I experienced first hand–like her reasoning behind choosing to tackle childhood obesity (and my beloved dino chicken nuggets in high school). While nothing is going to make me a liberal overnight, I really appreciated the care Michelle took with explaining her and her husband’s attempts to do what they thought was good for people.
Also, in case you’re wondering, yes she disses Donald Trump in this, but it’s such a not-event. Yeah, she would of course be mad about a guy insinuating her husband was born in Kenya. Yeah, she as a strong woman would be mad about the comments he made about women. That’s not the point of this book though. It’s not about Trump, it’s about
On a non-anecdote level, this book is really long, but tells a complete, chronological story. Mrs. Obama doesn’t jump around much, she pretty much tells her story from her childhood to the day she and 44 left the White House. The writing is also exceptional. I highly recommend listening to the audiobook because her narration is great, and it also helps reckon the story by hearing it come from her own mouth.
If you like politics, survived the Obama years, or have dreamed about being first lady, this is a must read book.It’s got heart and soul, some laughs, a lot of inside information, and is going to leave you wanting to be a better person. Oh, and you’ll be super grateful for the freedom to open your window.