Becoming justifiably deserves to be labelled a bestseller.
Becoming, by Michelle Obama
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 America—the first African American to serve in that role—she helped create the most welcoming and inclusive White House in history, while also establishing herself as a powerful advocate for women and girls in the U.S. and around the world, dramatically changing the ways that families pursue healthier and more active lives, and standing with her husband as he led America through some of its most harrowing moments. Along the way, she showed us a few dance moves, crushed Carpool Karaoke, and raised two down-to-earth daughters under an unforgiving media glare.
In her memoir, a work of deep reflection and mesmerizing storytelling, Michelle Obama invites readers into her world, chronicling the experiences that have shaped her—from her childhood on the South Side of Chicago to her years as an executive balancing the demands of motherhood and work, to her time spent at the world’s most famous address. With unerring honesty and lively wit, she describes her triumphs and her disappointments, both public and private, telling her full story as she has lived it—in her own words and on her own terms. Warm, wise, and revelatory, Becoming is the deeply personal reckoning of a woman of soul and substance who has steadily defied expectations—and whose story inspires us to do the same.
“Well, the south side of Chicago
Is the baddest part of town
And if you go down there
You better just beware
of a man name of Leroy Brown
…bad, bad Leroy Brown”
Jim Croce epitomized the south side of Chicago as the worst part of the city. Michelle Obama grew up there, from the wrong side of the tracks, who rose to unexpected heights of success and status.
Becoming is an impressively well written book, polished, refined, comprehensive and sophisticated as one would expect given the team of professionals involved in its writing. However, given the professionalism of Michelle Obama herself, her successes as a student, as a lawyer and her personal drive at being better and better in whatever she does, she likely had the greatest input into the writing of the book.
Admirers of Michelle Obama will endorse the book without reservation. Based on its prose, its quality of style, its high calibre of vocabulary, and its factual comprehensiveness, they are right to do so. It is tremendously readable.
Raves to caveats
Michelle covers a lot of material. She recalls details, people, relatives, friends and associates in amazing detail. Maybe too much. Being very analytical may be her strength, proffering questions for consideration and thought in many areas. She delves into relationships and associations deeply revealing herself as a woman of very serious introspection and self-examination. At times she may linger longer than she should in these examinations, thus slowing the pace of the read.
Michelle’s views of the world are never negative, nor critical. She observes and examines with an analytical eye, always constructive and positive, never pessimistic or cynical. Her only slip in this regard is when she writes about Trump near the end to the book, but her criticism is tempered by her sensitive, optimistic and diplomatic nature.
Consideration and analysis
Early in life she learned to tolerate differences, irregularities, deviations from her expectations, her norm. Her parents instilled character strengths in her, determination, drive, goal orientation, and ambition. Her independent streak rather than becoming a rebellious flaw, strengthened her drive and unstoppability. When uncomfortable, she questioned, analyzed and reviewed the issue rather than taking a combative stand and always ended with a review of her personal goals.
Michelle’s family developed her strength of character. A father who, debilitated by multiple sclerosis, remained ceaseless in his optimism and positive comments about everything, life, job, ambition and self-development; a mother who endlessly encouraged the siblings, Michelle and brother Craig, to ponder and consider things before coming to a decision. Her mother’s view of life and its challenges was that it should be lived, positively, constructively and always with loftier goals in mind. In short, the parenting philosophy in the Robinson home was that they were raising “adults” who made decisions based on values and principles.
Personal philosophical foundation
Michelle’s existential soul is based on a drive for self-improvement, ‘Not enough, not enough,’ and ‘Am I good enough?’ drive her forward positively and ceaselessly. She is not self-critical, eschewing self-doubt, replacing it with how she can prove herself repeatedly. Her aim is to find ways to self-improve and self-confirm, how she can do more, do better.
The first part of the book bogs down with extensive detail about family members, friends, situations and relationships, her days at school, her challenges in job hunting. A reader longing for such detail will enjoy this whereas some may find it tediously overdetailed.
Readers will perk up when Barack enters the picture. Michelle paints him in a positive manner, a man of intelligence, poise but quirky enough to have a fun side. An athlete with great love for playing basketball, yet a smoker which Michelle, a dedicated health addict finds puzzling given his extensively broad intellectual development.
In depth revelation
The book is a serious revelation of how the Obamas think, their personal philosophies and how they live as expressed by Michelle Obama. Michelle elevates Barack to heights of near sainthood as a husband, a mate and later as a father. Again, those who admire and support Barack, will find this affirming. Even as one would expect presidential matters to take priority and distract Barack from family, Michelle praises him for his steadfast efforts at maintaining regularity for the family and the raising of their daughters, Sasha and Malia.
Becoming is a very revealing book. Michelle bares her soul. She reveals herself to be a sensitive, caring person sensitive to everyone with whom she interacts, a wife who loves her spouse unreservedly and unashamedly, a mother who raises her daughters with wisdom and empathy believing in instilling independence and self-awareness as opposed to being over-protective, a professional who has climbed to a career height never expected in her loftiest daydreaming.
The book is an amazing introspection and self-revelation by an educated, intelligent and considerate writer. It has surprising depth, unexpected personal revelations and occasional astonishing disclosures.
Though Obama occasionally strays into too much detail, too much analysis, the treasure trove of what she writes, about herself, her family and her life far outweighs the occasional verboseness of the style.
A book well worth reading, deserving of its status as a bestseller.