“If you don’t get out there and define yourself, you’ll be quickly and inaccurately defined by others.”Michelle Obama, Becoming
Let me just start off by saying I understand the hype.
I never planned on reading this. I have often steered clear of non-fiction because I like to use reading to escape discover worlds different from our reality, not to be sucked back into real life. Furthermore, I was never really fascinated with the Obama’s or politics in general, so I didn’t think Michelle’s book would have a lasting impact on me.
I was so wrong.
This is not a story about politics, or a debate between the right and the left. Rather, this is a story of the first African-American first lady as she and her husband passionately tried to do what was best for the American people, all while raising a family and trying to stay true to their roots. Michelle writes in a way that makes you feel as if you are listening to a close friend tell a story. There isn’t a barrier between the reader and the author, and it is raw and authentic. Michelle was just an average girl, born in the south side of Chicago to a family of blue collar workers. Through this biography, she recalls how she has gotten to where she is, and it is fascinating.
This biography really humanizes the Obama’s and made me realize how their life was completely turned up-side-down. Suddenly, their every move was being recorded by the media. Michelle had to get permission to cut her hair, walk her dog, or even take her kids to school. These are aspects I don’t think about when I think about the first family, and really put everything into perspective. Not only that, she and Barack had the pressure of raising children in the White House, making sure they had as normal of a childhood as possible despite them always having social security with them. Reading about Sasha and Malia was definitely a highlight of this biography for me. It was interesting to read about how their life was similar to that of a normal teenager, but so different at the same time. But in reality, these girls had first boyfriends, senior proms, and college tours, just like other American teenagers.
This book also has difficult discussions about race and gender, leaving these issues on the forefront of people’s minds. At the same time, Michelle discusses these topics in a non-controversial way, just stating truth. Women deserve education. Children shouldn’t have to worry about being shot at school. African American families are not always broken. Americans should have access to fresh produce. People shouldn’t have to hear their president brag about assaulting women.
All in all, I really don’t have the words to properly describe the reading experience this book gave me. If available, I highly recommend the audiobook, as it is narrated by Michelle herself! This is definitely a book I believe everyone should read in their lifetime, whether you supported Barack Obama or not. This book is discusses matters of human decency, not politics. It has definitely made it on my list of my favorite books of all time.