An intimate, powerful, and inspiring memoir by the former First Lady of the United States.In a life filled with meaning and accomplishment, Michelle Obama has emerged as one of the most iconic and compelling women of our era. As First Lady of the United States of Americathe first African-American to serve in that roleshe helped create the most welcoming and inclusive White H...
|Number of Pages||:||426 pages|
I miss you and your husband so much
The job of First Lady - which is essentially to dress well, attend public functions, support your husband, and perhaps take up a worthy cause or two - would be confining for anyone, much less a woman of Michelle Obama's abilities, drive, and accomplishments. Michelle had to give up a distinguished career in public service to help her spouse Barack Obama achieve his ambitions, and she (at least publicly) doesn't regret it. In fact, while in the White House, Michelle was able to advance some cause
The job of First Lady - which is essentially to dress well, attend public functions, support your husband, and perhaps take up a worthy cause or two - would be confining for anyone, much less a woman of Michelle Obama's abilities, drive, and accomplishments. Michelle had to give up a distinguished career in public service to help her spouse Barack Obama achieve his ambitions, and she (at least publicly) doesn't regret it. In fact, while in the White House, Michelle was able to advance some causes close to her heart, including:
- Improving children's health. This started with Michelle's White House garden, planted by fifth graders, and branched out to important changes in the food industry - especially those supplying food to schools. Michelle's efforts also resulted in many schoolkids getting more time for vigorous play and exercise.
Working in the White House garden - planted to inspire children to eat better
- Bettering the lot of servicemen. Michelle - in conjunction with Jill Biden (the Second Lady) - made it her mission to help military familes. Thus Michelle frequently visited military hospitals, talked to patients and their relatives, and convinced businesses to hire and train veterans and military spouses.
Michelle Obama visiting a military hospital - Michelle helped veterans get jobs
- Boosting education for girls. Michelle (and Barack) worked assiduously to get girls around the world the schooling they deserve. In the U.S., Michelle's efforts helped millions of girls sign up for federal student aid; got increased support for school counselors; and launched National College Signing Day - a commemoration of young people and their pursuit of higher education beyond high school.
Michelle Obama on National College Signing Day - Michelle encouraged students to continue schooling/training after high school
Taking all this into account, I'm still irked that any woman - especially a college and law school graduate - has to dim her lights so her husband can pursue his dream. Now that her tenure in the White House is over, I'm hoping for great things from Michelle.....though she vows that politics is not for her and she'll never run for President.
Michelle Robinson grew up in a strong nuclear family on the South Side of Chicago. Michelle, her older brother Craig, and their parents rented the upstairs apartment of a small two-family home owned by a great aunt and uncle. Michelle's mother was a stay-at-home mom and her father tended boilers at a water-filtration plant.
Marian and Fraser Robinson with Craig and Michelle - the Robinsons aimed high for their children
Growing up, Michelle was enveloped by relatives, and during her family's regular weekend outings they would always visit with grandparents, aunts, uncles, and cousins. Michelle's favorite destination was the home of her maternal grandfather 'Southside', who would cook for everyone and play music from his extensive record collection.
Michelle's forebears had few chances to better themselves. Her paternal grandfather 'Dandy' moved to Chicago in the 1930s, hoping to earn money to go to college. But African Americans couldn't get good jobs - such as electricians, steelworkers, carpenters, or plumbers - because they were denied union cards. So Dandy became a handyman and gave up the idea of getting a higher education.
This kind of discrimination thwarted the advancement of generations of African Americans, and Michelle's parents were determined to help Craig and Michelle succeed. Michelle's mother Marian was an especially powerful force. When Michelle reported that her second grade teacher couldn't teach or control the classroom, Marian said "Oh dear" and quietly lobbied the school. Michelle was then tested.....and placed in an orderly third grade class. In later life, Michelle thought back with concern, wondering what happened to the kids who'd been left behind.
Young Michelle Robinson - Michelle's mom made sure she got a good teacher
When Michelle's father Fraser Robinson was in his thirties he was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis. Over the years Fraser's symptoms worsened and his mobility declined, but he continued to do fun things with his family - like going for drives and taking a yearly vacation at 'Dukes Happy Holiday Resort' in Michigan. Even when Fraser had to use a walker, and then a wheelchair, he didn't miss a day of work and never complained. Fraser was the sort of person who "just kept moving forward", and this undoubtedly sent a powerful message to his children.
As Craig and Michelle got older, their parents treated them like mature individuals and talked to them about drugs, sex, life choices, race, inequality, and politics. Marian and Fraser then left their offspring to make their own decisions, trusting they'd do the right thing.
Michelle's journey through school was eased by her brother Craig, who was two years ahead of her. Craig - who got good grades and was a basketball star - was very popular with teachers and schoolmates.....and being his sister was a huge plus. Nevertheless, Michelle's constant worry was, "Am I good enough?"
Michelle's anxiety increased when she tested into Chicago's first magnet school - Whitney M. Young High School - which had a much more diverse group of students than Michelle was used to. In addition to kids from working class neighborhoods like hers, there were white students from Chicago's prosperous North Side, and members of the 'African American elite', who belonged to social clubs, took ski vacations and traveled overseas.....things completely off young Michelle's radar. To keep up with her classmates - or even forge ahead - Michelle worked extra hard at schoolwork, homework, and extracurricular activities.
Michelle Robinson in high school
This compulsion continued at Princeton University, where Michelle was one of few females, and even fewer African Americans. Socially, Michelle was most comfortable at Princeton's 'Third World Center' (TWC) where students of color gathered. Scholastically, Michelle took her minority status as a mandate to overperform - to keep up with or even pass by more privileged students.
At Princeton Michelle got a work-study position with Czerny Brasuell, the director of the TWC. Michelle describes Czerny as an 'uber mentor' who lobbied for more inclusive policies for minorities and helped individual students improve their lot. Czerny became a role model for Michelle, who admired her work ethic and accomplishments.
Czerny Brasuell - Director of Princeton's Third World Center - she was a big influence on Michelle
Michelle Robinson at Princeton University
Michelle Robinson's college graduation picture
After Princeton, Michelle attended Harvard Law School, then got a position with Chicago's prestigious Sidley & Austin Law Firm. There she was asked to mentor an incoming summer associate - a law student from Harvard - who turned out to be Barack Obama. Michelle and Barack started out as mentor and mentee, became friends, started to date, then fell in love. Michelle describes Barack as "a catch." He was good-looking, poised, successful, athletic, interesting and kind. Barack was also cerebral, and though he could be lighthearted, always had a sense of obligation...to help his community.
Michelle Robinson and Barack Obama at Sidley & Austin Law Firm - Michelle was Barack's mentor when he was a summer associate
Michelle Robinson and Barack Obama - young and in love 💖
In the part of the book titled 'Becoming Us', Michelle writes about the development of her relationship with Barack; his delightful surprise proposal; their engagement; and their wedding - which was a large, joyous affair. Unfortunately, Fraser Robinson had succumbed to his illness two years before the nuptials, so Craig walked his sister down the aisle.
The Bride and Groom
Michelle wasn't satisfied being a corporate lawyer and wanted a job where she could help the community. Thus Michelle took a steep cut in salary to become an assistant to Chicago's Mayor Daley. Afterwards, Michelle's career advanced step by step as she became executive director of the Chicago chapter of 'Public Allies' - which trains young people to work in community organizations and non-profit agencies; then associate Dean at the University of Chicago - where she focused on community relations; and finally Executive Director for Community Affairs at the The University of Chicago Medical Center - where she promoted community outreach.
Along the way Michelle met Susan Sher and Valerie Jarrett, two women "who were confident and ran meetings and spoke their minds and influenced people; women who knew their voices and were unafraid to use them.....and were mothers." That was exactly what Michellle wanted, "everything", a work life and a home life.
Michelle Obama and Susan Sher - a role model/mentor
Michelle Obama and Valerie Jarrett - a role model/mentor
In the meantime, Barack was pursuing his career: teaching a class about racism at the University of Chicago Law School; working at a law firm; running community-organizing workshops; and revising his book 'Dreams From My Father.' Anxious to do good things, Barack entered politics, and Michelle describes the trajectory of his political career, from State Senator to President.
As their careers advanced, Michelle and Barack decided to start a family - which was easier said than done. Michelle had trouble getting pregnant; suffered a heartbreaking miscarriage; and used IVF to conceive Malia and then Sasha. Michelle and Barack were happy and devoted parents, but Barack's career required long stints away from home, so the brunt of 'home responsbilities' fell to Michelle.
Michelle and Barack Obama with Malia and Sasha
Michelle was at least partly prepared for political life because of her high school friendship with Santita Jackson, daughter of the civil rights activist, Baptist minister, and politician Jesse Jackson. Hanging around Santita's house, Michelle was exposed to the life of a political leader - with people constantly coming and going; plans alway being made; and Jackson's frequent absences from home.
Michelle's friend Santita Jackson with her father Jesse Jackson
Once Barack started running for President, life became grueling for both himself and Michelle. Michelle had an extensive role in the campaign and - particularly because she was black - was "under a microscope." Everything Michelle said and did and wore was scrutinized, and Republicans and the right wing media took every opportunity to criticize her, cut her down, take her remarks out of context, say cruel things about her, etc.. According to Michelle, "the punches hurt", but she forged ahead with unstoppable drive.
In the latter part of the book, Michelle talks about being First Lady; what it's like to live in the White House; and how she tried to make sure her daughters had as normal a life as possible. Michelle had to attend an endless stream of functions, parties, and galas, and - to look fashionable and put together - hired a wardrobe stylist, hairdresser, and make-up artist. (This part of being First Lady, at least, sounds like fun.)
Michelle Obama became a fashion icon
Finally, Michelle mentions leaving the White House and resuming a 'normal life', which is still a work in progress.
I've tried to give a brief overview of Michelle's story, but you'll have to read the book to read her compelling personal anecdotes about family; friends; schools; teachers; bullies; piano lessons; her best friend dying from cancer; visits to Kenya; vacations in Hawaii; election night nerves; inaugural balls; the family dogs Bo and Sunny; Malia and Sasha; Joe and Jill Biden; Hillary Clinton; Queen Elizabeth; Lin-Manuel Miranda; Donald Trump; and much more.
Michelle and Barack Obama at the inaugural ball
Bo (right) and Sunny Obama
Michelle and Barack Obama with Malia and Sasha (when the girls were preteens)
Barack Obama with little Malia and Sasha on vacation
Jill and Joe Biden with the Obamas
Michelle Obama and Queen Elizabeth
The book is well-written and illuminating, a fine first memoir from a First Lady.
You can follow my reviews at https://reviewsbybarbsaffer.blogspot.... ...more
If you like Michelle Obama, you are going to like this book. Her delightful personality shines through. It's thoughtful, well-written, and willing to go everywhere without betraying her signature line: "When they go low, we go high." This isn't a book full of gossip or meant to tear her enemies down. It's simply an uplifting look at a remarkable woman's remarkable life.
If you don't like Michelle Obama, though, you're going to write a snarky one-star review complaining that she criticizes Donald If you like Michelle Obama, you are going to like this book. Her delightful personality shines through. It's thoughtful, well-written, and willing to go everywhere without betraying her signature line: "When they go low, we go high." This isn't a book full of gossip or meant to tear her enemies down. It's simply an uplifting look at a remarkable woman's remarkable life.
If you don't like Michelle Obama, though, you're going to write a snarky one-star review complaining that she criticizes Donald Trump, conveniently forgetting that he was among the primary architects of the false, racist claim that her husband was lying about his citizenship. She's got every right to criticize him.
Whatever, the Donald Trump stuff is a relatively small piece of this book. He gets just a couple brief mentions, really. And that's just fine. This is the first political memoir I've ever read, but it was a thoroughly enjoyable book. ...more
The audiobook is wonderful. Hearing Michelle tell her own story is better than reading her words in a book. She speaks clearly, with emotional feeling and at a perfect speed. I have given the narration performance five stars.
The writing is heartfelt, clear and well formulated.
We start at Michelle’s youth and learn about her family. The telling moves forward chronologically, concluding in 2017 when Michelle and Barack left the White House. Each chapter flows smoothly into the next, in this way m The audiobook is wonderful. Hearing Michelle tell her own story is better than reading her words in a book. She speaks clearly, with emotional feeling and at a perfect speed. I have given the narration performance five stars.
The writing is heartfelt, clear and well formulated.
We start at Michelle’s youth and learn about her family. The telling moves forward chronologically, concluding in 2017 when Michelle and Barack left the White House. Each chapter flows smoothly into the next, in this way making it clear to the reader why and how one decision led to the next. What you need to know to understand each decision taken is made clearly evident. There is no overload of unnecessary details, which is to say the book is properly edited. Amusing incidents are included. What I want said is that one’s attention never wanders. I listened and listened and listened and never needed a break.
This book is about Michelle. It is about what is important to her. It Is what she wants said. It is about how she has experienced being a young woman growing up in the latter half of the 20th century and life today as a woman of the 21st century. She speaks of how she views her relationship with her husband who happened to be the United States president. She brings you in close. What she says is both about being a woman of today and about what it was like being married to the president. In this way you get two different perspectives.
You learn about her reluctance and ambivalence toward Barack’s decision to seek presidency. With that overcome her involvement in his campaign follows. Always, how the family as a whole is affected, is spoken of. On election night in 2007, after the votes had been counted and it was clear Barack would be president, Barack, Michelle and their two girls drove to the celebration party, but Sasha, their youngest child, was worried because there were no other cars on the road. The roads had been cleared by the Secret Service agents, but she did not understand this. “Daddy,” she says, “I don’t think anybody is coming to your party!” I am paraphrasing. What she said was so cute; she was so upset and worried for her father!
Michelle’s eight years in the White House are of course covered too. Her trips and what she endeavored to achieve by setting up a garden on the White House grounds, her work to combat child obesity, efforts toward affordable health care, healthier foods and more physical exercise in school curriculums. You hear of their two dogs and the night when mother and daughter sneak outside to see the White House gloriously lit up in color for Gay Pride festivities. We follow with Michelle as her two children grow into young adults.
Michelle does not see herself as a political person; politics are not her prime interest. If you are looking for a book that in detail reviews Barak’s political accomplishments, you must look elsewhere. I have previously read The Bridge: The Life and Rise of Barack Obama by David Remnick. I do not regret having read it, even if I only gave it two stars.
There is a difference between reading a biography and an autobiography. One reaps different information; one gets different perspectives, but both have value as long as one keeps in mind whose view is being presented. Michelle presents her views in a polite, thoughtful, balanced and relatively fair manner.
I have come to understand the dynamics of the Obama family, the ups and downs the family has progressed through. Look at the title—Becoming. Becoming is a process; it is a transition from one state to the next. It Is not about reaching a final destination. Becoming looks at Michelle Obama and the process by which she has become who she is. It is an apt title. Every aspect of this book is well thought out.
I hope you enjoy it as much as I have. I hope I have clearly indicated what the book contains and what it gives and doesn’t give. ...more
Like many people, I eagerly read Michelle Obama’s memoir “Becoming” as soon as it was published this week. It’s important that this book has come out now and there’s many reasons to be excited about it. I’m not only excited about it because she’s a former first lady as well as being an icon in her own right or her historic importance as the first African American First Lady who is the great great granddaughter of a slave. And not just because this book finally gives insight to her own private th Like many people, I eagerly read Michelle Obama’s memoir “Becoming” as soon as it was published this week. It’s important that this book has come out now and there’s many reasons to be excited about it. I’m not only excited about it because she’s a former first lady as well as being an icon in her own right or her historic importance as the first African American First Lady who is the great great granddaughter of a slave. And not just because this book finally gives insight to her own private thoughts on things ranging from her evolving romance with Barack or the painful transition to the current presidency after they left the White House. And I’m not even excited just because I have silly fantasies about what it’d be like to be Michelle’s best friend and closest confidant and listening to the 19 hours and 3 minutes of the audio book meant Michelle was speaking about her private reflections directly into my ear. I’m excited about this book because I need a dose of wisdom and optimism in a period of time when the world seems so bleak and I feel so uncertain and frightened about my own future and the future of our society that I sometimes feel a creeping cynicism overcome me. Having just read the book I’m filled with emotion and admiration and, yes, more hope because of the striking insights and heartfelt openness of Michelle’s story.
Read my full review of Becoming by Michelle Obama on LonesomeReader ...more
I honestly can't wait to read this one! Already preordered the audiobook. A full memoir about her life in her own words? Take all my money Michelle!
Release Date: Nov. 13 2018
Hands Down, the Best Memoir of 2018
Now I think it’s one of the most useless questions an adult can ask a child—What do you want to be when you grow up? As if growing up is finite. As if at some point you become something and that’s the end.
I picked up Becoming because it is Michelle Obama and I wanted to hear what she had to say. I expected to be wowed, amazed, and knocked off my feet but I didn't expect to be so smitten. I have no words to explain how amazing this book is. The writing is fl Hands Down, the Best Memoir of 2018
Now I think it’s one of the most useless questions an adult can ask a child—What do you want to be when you grow up? As if growing up is finite. As if at some point you become something and that’s the end.
I picked up Becoming because it is Michelle Obama and I wanted to hear what she had to say. I expected to be wowed, amazed, and knocked off my feet but I didn't expect to be so smitten. I have no words to explain how amazing this book is. The writing is flawless, Michelle Obama is GOALS and the G.O.A.T. This is Michelle Obama like we have never seen her before, unencumbered, moving, flawed, deeply authentic and funny. I am in awe of this woman and the life she has lived so far and I cannot wait to see where the next years take the Obamas.
While I am not a big fan of politics and politician, the Obamas stole my heart when they were in power and I still look on deeply fascinated by the life they live. In Becoming Michelle Obama gave us an inside look at exactly what the race for presidency was like, what living under a spotlight like the First Lady affected her and her children and how she was able to use her platform.
Also, can we just all pause and acknowledge Barrack and Michelle's love story and how moving it was? I found myself crying, laughing out loud and cheering for them at different stages of the book. This might be one of the best memoirs I have read to date.
This is a MUST READ. Top favorite book of 2019, do not sleep on it.
Your story is what you have, what you will always have. It is something to own. ...more
I absolutely loved listening to Michelle Obama read her memoir, Becoming. Michelle is frank in telling her life story, especially in the challenges she has faced and the ways she has tried to overcome those difficulties.
The book follows a basic chronological order, starting with her childhood on the south side of Chicago, covering her college years, then how she met Barack while working at a law firm, and finally their life together, with Barack choosing a career in politics, while Michelle adm I absolutely loved listening to Michelle Obama read her memoir, Becoming. Michelle is frank in telling her life story, especially in the challenges she has faced and the ways she has tried to overcome those difficulties.
The book follows a basic chronological order, starting with her childhood on the south side of Chicago, covering her college years, then how she met Barack while working at a law firm, and finally their life together, with Barack choosing a career in politics, while Michelle admits she dislikes politics, especially how it can strain family life.
There were a lot of great stories in this book, but one I especially liked (in part because it reminded me of my own father) was how frustrated Michelle would get with Barack's constant lateness. When he was a state senator in Illinois, he would often be hours late for dinner. After going to see a couple's therapist, Michelle changed her attitude by setting a firm time for dinner, rather than waiting for him, and also prioritizing her own needs, such as making time to exercise in the morning.
When it came to the home-for-dinner dilemma, I installed new boundaries, ones that worked better for me and the girls. We made our schedule and stuck to it ... It went back to my wishes for them to grow up strong and centered and also unaccommodating to any form of old-school patriarchy: I didn’t want them ever to believe that life began when the man of the house arrived home. We didn’t wait for Dad. It was his job now to catch up with us.
The lesson being that in life you control what you can.
Another fun anecdote was the inside joke Michelle had after Barack's popular 2004 speech at the Democratic National Convention. When Barack suddenly became famous, getting a book deal and more speaking requests and an interview from Oprah and even being greeted on the street by strangers, after every encounter, Michelle would look at him and say, "Must have been a good speech."
Yes, yes it was. I highly recommend this book to anyone who likes the Obamas, political stories or inspiring memoirs.
"Now I think it’s one of the most useless questions an adult can ask a child — What do you want to be when you grow up? As if growing up is finite. As if at some point you become something and that’s the end."
"Now that I’m an adult, I realize that kids know at a very young age when they’re being devalued, when adults aren’t invested enough to help them learn. Their anger over it can manifest itself as unruliness. It’s hardly their fault. They aren’t 'bad kids.' They’re just trying to survive bad circumstances."
"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?'"
"Since childhood, I’d believed it was important to speak out against bullies while also not stooping to their level. And to be clear, we were now up against a bully, a man who among other things demeaned minorities and expressed contempt for prisoners of war, challenging the dignity of our country with practically his every utterance. I wanted Americans to understand that words matter — that the hateful language they heard coming from their TVs did not reflect the true spirit of our country and that we could vote against it. It was dignity I wanted to make an appeal for — the idea that as a nation we might hold on to the core thing that had sustained my family, going back generations. Dignity had always gotten us through. It was a choice, and not always the easy one, but the people I respected most in life made it again and again, every single day. There was a motto Barack and I tried to live by, and I offered it that night from the stage: When they go low, we go high."
"My father, Fraser, taught me to work hard, laugh often, and keep my word. My mother, Marian, showed me how to think for myself and to use my voice. Together, in our cramped apartment on the South Side of Chicago, they helped me see the value in our story, in my story, in the larger story of our country. Even when it’s not pretty or perfect. Even when it’s more real than you want it to be. Your story is what you have, what you will always have. It is something to own."
"For every door that’s been opened to me, I’ve tried to open my door to others. And here is what I have to say, finally: Let’s invite one another in. Maybe then we can begin to fear less, to make fewer wrong assumptions, to let go of the biases and stereotypes that unnecessarily divide us. Maybe we can better embrace the ways we are the same. It’s not about being perfect. It’s not about where you get yourself in the end. There’s power in allowing yourself to be known and heard, in owning your unique story, in using your authentic voice. And there’s grace in being willing to know and hear others. This, for me, is how we become." ...more