I have not read Becoming Michelle Obama the book…..I listened to it on Audible as it is read by Michelle Obama herself! Her voice is so recognisable and just as reassuring as she is as a person. This book is the story of her life up until the end of her husband’s Presidency.
This book needs no more 5* reviews but I just wanted to add how much I enjoyed hearing about the life of this remarkable woman. From a small apartment on the South Side of Chicago, Michelle Obama’s journey took her to the most famous house in Washington. Michelle Obama is an inspiring woman and has always been an icon to me. No she will never stand for President – she makes that statement very emphatically at the end of the book.
However what I loved about this book was hearing about her early life living in Chicago, about her extended family and all of the personal stories. Michelle followed her brother, Craig, to Princeton where she shared a room with two white girls. Cathy, one of her roommates, would surface in the news many years later, describing with embarrassment something Michelle had not known when they lived together. Cathy’s mother was so appalled that her daughter had been assigned a black roommate that she badgered the university to move her to another room. She was successful. Many years later Cathy confirmed this story and Michelle explains:
“Having been raised in a home where the n-word was a part of the family lexicon, having had a grandfather who’d been a sheriff and used to brag about chasing black people out of his town, she’d been “horrified” as she put it, by my proximity to her daughter.”Michelle Obama
Wow – Cathy and her mother must have regretted years later that prejudiced decision to change rooms!!
Then you hear how Michelle met Barack when she was working at Sidley & Austin, a Chicago law firm. How they fell in love and what drew Michelle to Barack. There is a lovely anecdote about the time she accompanies Barack when he has been asked to lead training at a black parish in Roseland, on the Far South Side. This is an area that had been crippled by the steel mill closings of the mid-1980s – a tough audience.
Barack facilitated a conversation that lasted about an hour. He asked people to share their stories and describe their concerns about life in the neighbourhood. Barack, in turn, then shared his own story, tying it to the principles of community organising. He was there to convince them that we are all connected to one another and that it is possible to harness discontent and convert it to something useful. Barack succeeded but it was then that Michelle realised how special he was. He put it so succinctly to his audience:
The choice, as he saw it, was this: You give up or you work for change. “What’s better for us?” Barack called to the people gathered in the room. “Do we settle for the world as it is, or do we work for the world as it should be?”Barack Obama
This is clearly what inspired both of the Obamas to carry on even when they were opposed so many times. It is a quote that she uses again at the end of the book when she looks back at what they have achieved as a President and as a family.
The book then moves onto how she copes being the mother to two young children. She has to juggle this with her burgeoning career. It shows how she went on to embrace the role of F.L.O.T.U.S. She always made sure that her role as wife and mother was not smothered by this awesome position.
The book is written giving us an inside view of life within the White House. A place where windows cannot be opened due to security risks. How the walls and windows are so thick you cannot hear any noise from outside, even the landing of the Presidential helicopter! However it is a story that is wrapped up with the love and appreciation of all the staff that work so hard to make it work.
It also shows the everyday difficulties of bringing up two daughters. Even with an exceptionally hardworking, albeit devoted, father and in a unique environment it highlights the problems.
Nothing could have prepared Michelle Obama for this role but she embraced it and made it her own. She learned as she went along and she shares her mistakes and her disappointments with the reader together, of course, with all the joyous moments.
If you did not find Michelle Obama inspirational before reading this book you certainly will afterwards. She is unapologetically herself never afraid to break the rules. It is an outstanding book just like the author.
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