Review: Becoming by Michelle Obama
Ever since the release of this infamous memoir, I have been interested. I am not an American, but any Brit can tell you their love for the Obama's.
Becoming is broken into 3 sections, Becoming Me, Becoming More and Becoming Us. In Becoming Me, we learn about Michelle's upbringing in the south side of Chicago and her relationship with her family and school life. In Becoming More, we read about Michelle's incredibly impressive academic beginnings at Princeton University and Harvard Law School. Finally, Becoming Us follows Michelle's relationship with Barack; how they met, challenges in their relationship down to things we can all relate to such as differences in opinion and difficulties with communication, to scenarios many of us cannot imagine, such as when Donald Trump is the successor to your husband as the President of the United States.
This book has been highly praised as well as being on the bestsellers list consistently since its release, so I was expecting something truly exceptional.
Michelle was not granted many luxuries at the start of life, but was still a stand out student at school. She immersively describes her immeasurable drive to succeed and always be the best in her class - something she was determined to do even from pre-school (whatever this is, Brit over here). I was especially interested when she wrote about attending almost all-white universities. Racial diversity within top universities and higher education in general is something that is problematic everywhere, but reading about the experience through a black woman's perspective was very powerful. I feel I generally am aware of the blend of diversity in a room. I notice it at work, at book events, and I noticed it when I went to school. However, as much as I may notice it, I am still able to blend into the majority and not feel like I stand out in a room.
Beyond Michelle being an incredibly impressive and successful woman, the book absolutely feeds ones obsession with the celebrity element; how her and Barack met, how she turned him down, the thrill of the chase! The book was very honest, and it never faltered in keeping my interest. I was impressed when certain things were openly discussed, such as issues in her marriage that resulted in her and Barack attending marriage counselling; this seemed like a brave and potentially damaging thing to write about when they are such a public couple and highly admired. The honesty made their relationship seem even more realistic and endearing. It opens the narrative much more on the assumed fairytale we saw watching them dance at his inauguration to Beyonce.
If you enjoy memoirs, this one is really fantastic. It covers class, race, feminism, marriage, motherhood, politics, success and the struggle of a work life balance when you're pigeonholed as an angry black woman. There's something in there for everyone. Above anything else, non-fiction that tells a story of overcoming hard odds and achieving excellence is inspiring, so I'm very happy I finally read this book.
Initial Prediction: 4.5 stars
Final Rating: 4.5 stars
Publication Date: 13 November 2018
Genres: Non-Fiction, Memoir
# of Pages: 426