Becoming follows Michelle Obama from her childhood growing up in the Southside of Chicago up until the after she has left the White House in early 2017. If I could describe it in one word, my word would be powerful. The bar for powerful naturally varies from person to person, for me, I knew it was an apt description after getting, unexpectedly, emotional reading passages from this book. A couple of times, in the second-half, I would be lying if I did not get teary reading the weight of responsibility and inevitable sense of helplessness of paired with it of Obama the First Family. For me, Becoming exemplifies all the things I have come to adore about memoirs, and why it ranks for me as the best one I have read in my 20-something years.
WARNING: SPOILERS BELOW
I resonated greatly with Obama’s years at Sidney & Austin. Her struggle for purpose is one I am feeling intensely at this juncture of my life. The tension between wanting to make the most of the opportunity that her parents gave her versus gaining a sense of personal fulfilment, while not always in conflict, often are. The doubts, the worries, the insecurity, I felt it all. Though not from others, but of herself, and the image she had of herself – I have never felt more understood. After reading through these passages, my admiration for her grew enormously. She made the tough decision to pursue that sense of fulfilment by taking jobs that serve the public directly. That takes a whole lot of guts, and is nothing to sniff at. If anything, it gave me hope that making the unconventional career choice can pay dividends in the long-run.
Seeing Obama be a model for grace, humility, and confidence for 8 years growing up, I thought she was superhuman – now I know she is. Having now read of maelstrom that sought to unbalance her throughout the campaigns and presidency, the feat is even more impressive. The issues that she contended with, being under the bright lights of the presidency, I am ashamed to say, never crossed my mind. Trying to retain a sense of normalcy with security details attached to the hip sounded impossible, but she never gave up and always stood her ground. Whether it was the insisting Malia & Sasha’s security detail’s be less “attached” or noticeable when in public or setting up the garden, she always remained steadfast. If anything, this book energising. Given all of the trials and tribulations, Obama was able to maintain her authenticity and be true to herself.
This book is 400-something pages, but it never once felt long. That is a testament to the remarkable story of Michelle Obama and how beautifully it is written. It is intimate, candid, poignant, and inspiring all at the same time. It is the one of the easiest recommendations I can give.