Book review: Becoming by Michelle Obama
Updated: Oct 16, 2019
Being honest, before I read Becoming all I knew about Michelle Obama was that she was a highly popular First Lady of the USA, leading initiatives about healthy eating and education and she appeared on chat shows like Ellen, which I enjoyed watching on YouTube. Aside from that, I didn’t know much. I presumed I’d learn a lot about the politics of her husband, Barack Obama's, time in office but it turns out, to me, the most interesting parts of her story come in the first two sections of the book; Becoming Me and Becoming Us, way before she became the FLOTUS.
It was in these sections that you come to realise that as successful as she became, Michelle Obama was not on some golden trajectory, pre-destined for greatness from the start. In fact, the part I loved most about this book is that she is honest about overcoming things like imposter syndrome, self-doubt and yearning for a linear path in life that never quite came.
Talking of her childhood, Michelle recounts a story from childhood when a girl asks ‘How come you talk like a white girl?’ She writes ‘The question was pointed, meant as an insult or at least a challenge, but it also came from an earnest place. It held a kernel of something that was confusing for both of us. We seemed related but of two different worlds.’
I was almost hysterically laughing on the train whilst reading this part, as it’s something all too familiar as someone who had constantly been told as a child that they didn’t act like a ‘normal Indian girl.’ For a lot of black and brown people there is a constant balance between trying to fit into a world where you don’t quite slot into easily, while also embracing the heritage, traditions and culture of your family.
However, the juiciest part of the book, for me, was Michelle deciding that after years of convincing herself she was good enough to go to Princeton, to Harvard law school and join a top law firm that she needed to take a risk and change her course. In today's world we're constantly comparing our lives to others thanks to social media, and her story puts a strong emphasis on finding happiness for yourself.
It's easy to believe these great people are an alien species, but a lot of what she talks about was very relatable in the professional and personal sense.
Read this if: You’re looking for something inspiring or if you’re feeling a bit lost. Michelle’s honesty and humour will give you some umph.
Favourite bit: Learn the details about moments we’ve all seen on TV from the other perspective, like picking out outfits for Malia and Sasha on the day Barack announced his candidacy for president.
Any parts I didn’t like? I could’ve swapped more about her life before presidency for the details while in the White House.
Stars out of 5: 4 stars