Official Synopsis from Goodreads: 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.
Genre: Memoir, Nonfiction
My Copy Came From: I purchased the hardcover at Costco.
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Review: Long, but full of interesting information! Becoming by Michelle Obama was a book I read for my book club. I typically don’t read celebrity memoirs, and while I did enjoy this, it will most likely not be a book I re-read, as I found it to be too wordy and repetitive.
I grew up with a disabled dad in a too-small house with not much money in a starting-to-fail neighborhood, and I also grew up surrounded by love and music in a diverse city in a country where an education can take you far. I had nothing or I had everything. It depends on which way you want to tell it.
Telling Michelle Obama’s story, Becoming is broken up into sections: Becoming Me (her upbringing and schooling), Becoming Us (she meets and falls in love with Barack), and Becoming More (Barack wins the presidency). Far and away my favorite section of the book was Becoming More, which dealt with life in the White House and how Michelle adjusted to life as First Lady. While this section dealt the most with politics, which isn’t something I’m really fond of, it was also full of the most fascinating details! Like the fact that the nuclear football weighs 45 pounds. The windows in the White House can’t be opened and it was quite the ordeal whenever Michelle wanted any kind of fresh air. And that they actually had to pay for food and supplies in the White House! I totally thought taxpayers paid for all of it – we don’t. This section was so interesting, that I’m now interested in reading other memoirs about Presidents and First Ladies.
It sounds a little like a bad joke, doesn’t it? What happens when a solitude-loving individualist marries an outgoing family woman who does not love solitude one bit?
The answer, I’m guessing, is probably the best and most sustaining answer to nearly every question arising inside a marriage, no matter who you are or what the issue is: You find ways to adapt. If you’re in it forever, there’s really no choice.
Besides learning about life in the White House, there was also lots of information about Michelle and Barack to learn as well. I’ve always liked the Obamas, so I went into this read curious to learn more about their life and relationship, and for the most part this book was exactly what I thought it was going to be. Uplifting and inspirational, but also quite long in sections and some points were hammered home again and again. I’m not a big fan of celebrity memoirs, and this, for me, fell under that category, and the beginning part detailing Michelle’s upbringing was the most boring section for me. Boring’s not quite the right word – it’s just that it wasn’t all that exciting.
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.
While this wasn’t necessarily the most exciting of books to read, I did really enjoy the discussion we had at book club about the read. We all took away something different from the read, and had plenty to discuss, from the differences between the Obamas and the current administration, to the path to the presidency, to Michelle’s legal career, to Michelle and Barack’s relationship, to the role of First Lady, or to whether this had a ghost writer. I’d definitely recommend this book as a book club read!
Bottom Line: Inspirational and full of interesting tidbits, if a little long and wordy.