Becomingby Published 13 Nov 2018
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 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.
I’d been lucky to have parents, teachers, and mentors who’d fed me with a consistent, simple message: You matter.
As an adult, I wanted to pass those words to a new generation.
Look, I'm not a happy crier. I might cry at songs about leaving and missing someone; I might cry at books where things don't work out; I might cry at movies where someone dies. I've just never really understood why people get all choked up over happy, inspirational things. But Michelle Obama's kindness and empathy changed that. This book had me in tears for all the right reasons.
This is not really a book about politics, though political experiences obviously do come into it. It's a shame that some will dismiss this book because of a difference in political opinion, when it is really about a woman's life. About growing up poor and black on the South Side of Chicago; about getting married and struggling to maintain that marriage; about motherhood; about being thrown into an amazing and terrifying position.
I hate words like "inspirational" because they've become so overdone and cheesy, but I just have to say it-- Michelle Obama is an inspiration. I had the privilege of seeing her speak at The Forum in Inglewood, and she is one of the warmest, funniest, smartest, down-to-earth people I have ever seen in this world.
And yes, I know we present what we want the world to see, but I truly do think it's genuine. I think she is someone who really cares about people - especially kids - and wants to give them better lives and opportunities.
She's obviously intelligent, but she also doesn't gussy up her words. She talks straight, with an openness and honesty rarely seen. She's been one of the most powerful women in the world, she's been a graduate of Princeton and Harvard Law School, she's had her own successful career, and yet she has remained throughout that same girl - Michelle Robinson - from a working class family in Chicago.
I don't think there's anyone who wouldn't benefit from reading this book.
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Audiobook read by Michelle Obama
For the past three days - all I wanted to do was listen to Michelle Obama..... I cried - or was teary-eyed so many times - I lost count.
THIS BOOK must be ‘especially’ special to her immediate family and closest friends ....but it’s also a great gift to the rest of us.
Nobody else but Michelle could have written this book - it’s so MICHELLE’S STORY!
She is gifted in her ability to express her own emotions- write with tremendous insight and sensitivity and from beginning to end it’s artistically rendered with meticulous attention to details.
Michelle questioned herself ....was a very hard worker - determined to achieve her goals academically. She wanted to do well. No matter how great she was doing she still had insecurities - doubted herself. She questioned, “am I good enough?”
MICHELLE IS GOOD ENOUGH! We are blessed to have her —- simply sharing HERSELF - BEING HERSELF - SHARING ABOUT HER LIFE - HER PARENTS - HER THOUGHTS - FEELINGS - PROJECTS THAT ARE MEANINGFUL TO HER....HER MARRIAGE - HER DAUGHTERS - HER FAMILY FRIENDS - BEING A WOMAN - BEING BLACK - LESSONS SHE HAS LEARNED AND IS STILL WORKING OUT - HER WARMTH -HER HUMOR- HER HONESTY & HUMANITY -
etc. etc. etc. MICHELLE IS A NATURAL LEADER - A PRESENCE WE ARE DRAWN TO - CAN WE LOVE A PUBLIC FIGURE MUCH MORE? Perhaps.... but it’s very easy to love Michelle Obama .....
It would be fun just to sit with my friends over drinks and yummy treats for a few hours and all pick this book apart —- sharing our favorite parts - AS THERE ARE MANY ***FAVORITE*** parts!!!! I’m happy to host a gathering at my house anytime!!! 😊
Michelle has made it clear - she is never running for office. If you listened to this audiobook for 19 hours - every word - such as I did - I guarantee you won’t doubt her ‘never running’ announcement. She will contribute her way! Politics is nasty and mean and it’s not the place for her.... she doesn’t hold back in expressing how she feels about it either. I can’t blame her. At the same time it was quite beautiful how she totally understands her husbands brilliant mind and vision - how Barack was the perfect candidate at the perfect time. Oh she would’ve rather had Obama a regular family man, but he was the type of man she herself would have wanted for President. She grew into becoming comfortable with his running.
They did well overall....as husband and wife and as parents while also being in the life of politics --living in the white house with security guards everywhere they went.
Michelle raised two daughters in the White House as normal as she could.
A frightening story about wild sedated animals will having you saying .....
“What the f#@k”? But have no fear .....the story ends well. :)
Many memories came flooding back around Barack’s campaign and Election Day.
I was teary eye during much of this part. Parts I remembered well - other personal circumstances that Michelle had to share about the campaign, I knew nothing about. Much made me sad and angry - Election Day had my nerves stirred all over again ... only this time I was more intimately with the Obama family.
The beginning of this Audiobook.....we find Michelle at home....home alone. Not at the White House. She was no longer the First Lady. Simply a night alone in her own house.
None of us readers have lived in the White House - but she shares a story that most readers will connect with. It’s priceless, moving, and powerful. I suggest taking a moment to reflect on your ‘own’ similar experience. I’m sure a memory will surface! Enjoy it. A moment of solitude. If you like cheese toast - this might be a time to have a slice.
Michelle spends a long time telling us about her early childhood. I questioned ‘parts’ of this for awhile - I wasn’t sure why I needed to know sooooo many details.
But - during a break from listening to the audiobook is when I did some serious reflecting. My feelings changed from feeling a little impatient - as in “how much more do I need about the family games you played in the evening, or details about kids in the neighborhood- and every description of your house - your aunt Robbie’s personality, your grandpas carpentry skills, etc. ...how much more of this Michelle?”
But then.....during my break ....( my first cry).... I understood my own and impatience . The light went off for me of why this portion of the book was valuable to me and also triggering. Michelle taught me things in this book about being black —- really being black — not just a woman and black — but what she went through all her life as a very hard working BLACK women WHO ALWAYS HAD TO KEEP REACHING - achievement oriented- her goals were important to her. Being one of the few blacks within mostly a white environment for soooo many years was a constant pressure. Her years at Princeton really shows what she went through.
I learned something else from Michelle too .....
Things about her ‘family’ - her parents - the tight knit ways they all were with one another - her incredible love for he older brother ..... and even though Michelle was black and lived on the south side of Chicago ..... she had things that I never had my childhood. She had two parents who were deeply dedicated to her and her brother Craig. Her parents gave up so much of their own lives to provide everything for their children.
I literally fell apart with gushing tears during my break - I didn’t have a childhood anything close to hers.
When I returned to listening to the Audiobook— Michelle was still talking about how wonderful her mom was and dad were, their family car - the Buick - family time *together*.....SO MUCH FAMILY TIME - HAPPY MEMORIES.....
something shifted in me. I didn’t want rush her childhood any longer. I wanted to try to imagine the type SHE HAD. Once I stopped fighting my uncomfortableness - I was transforming through ‘her’ family.
When Michelle hit her teenage years, I was a little envious. I wanted to be girlfriends with her. I liked her. Hanging out at her house after school - meeting her mom and those gracious sandwiches her mom prepared for Michelle and her girlfriends was just cozy wonderful. I was reminded how much I loved my close friends - Renee, Lisi, and Barbara. Great girlfriends during the teen years makes life so much more tolerable and ‘fun’.
I wanted to be friends with Michelle.....feel safe in her home......cherished her mom and dad too.
It was impossible not to fall in love with not only Michelle - but her parents - brother Craig - Susan ( Michelle’s best friend in college), and her daughters, Malia and Sasha,
My affinity was also warm for people who supported their family in the White House. Also for Michelle’s female colleagues from her work at City Hall in Chicago ....and of course Barack Obama.
Barack gets ‘guy-of-the-year’ award - the night he asked Michelle to marry her. GREAT STORY!
Let’s face it ..... Barack & Michelle are adorable!! Bright - have dignity - are gracious!
They undeniably love each another.
They had challenges..... but as a committed couple they practiced, learn, and got better over time figuring out what empowered their relationship - and what didn’t. They were not too proud to attend therapy for support ( and Michelle was not too proud to share with the world to read). They looked for solutions - rather than attacked - found fault and blamed.
Barack and Michelle are grounded in love - willing to support each individually as whole separate beings. They are also emotionally connected in matters of the heart. They may have had a challenging relationship - logistics alone - but a healthy love relationship based on respect and trust.
Yep.... they are a couple much like Paul and I. ❤️
Michelle and Barack’s wedding with their ‘wedding song’ by Stevie Wonder ....
“You and I Can Conquer The World”.....was such a beautiful part of this story....
MY GOD....at one point I said to myself, “they really are a fairy tale couple”.....lol
I usually ever even ‘think’ like that. .....but their wedding did feel beautiful.....surrounded by many people who loved them both.
The only thing that would have made the wedding scene better would have been ......
If on the Audiobook....they played Stevie Wonder singing the song. It’s soooo beautiful!!!
Sing 🎤 along ....”You and I Can Conquer The World”.
Who knows what “Willy Worm” is? Michelle mentioned she was rushing off to Willy Worm class with Sasha when she was a toddler....and I said, “what the heck is that?”... look it up....it’s cute. Might drive adults nuts, though. 🐛
I loved hearing about Michelle’s high school AND college years.....
Yet I felt angry ‘with’ her that years later during the Barack Obama campaign, somebody dug up an old paper that Michelle wrote when she was at Princeton as a young college student and wrote nasty things saying she was a black radical.
So much UGLY news of pure crappy political lies were being spread about her during the campaign.
Fox News talked about her militant anger - and she was accused of calling white people whities. Total lies - outlandish hurtful lies that exhaustive Michelle. And who could blame? All the while Michelle was trying to be positive and supportive.
Michelle has contributed to other potential first ladies by writing this book. Michelle was more active than many spouses of candidates in campaigning for their husbands… But in the future we will see more of this. For over a year Michelle had zero support from the Obama campaign team. Nobody supported her. She wasn’t getting any speech writing experts.
Apparently, while Michelle was campaigning - traveling from state to state - not with Obama - everything was going great until all of a sudden it wasn’t. Things turned ugly and hurtful fast.
This part of the book gives useful information that others can learn from.
Any future wife of a candidate running for President in the future could get an awful lot of value out of reading this portion of the shelves memoir. I’m sorry Michelle paid a painful price ....but she paved the way of possibilities to help ‘both sides’ of wives of running candidates in the future.
It’s hard to finish this book without any tears. I totally love both Michelle and Barack.
So many of us are heartbroken with where our country is now .....
This book comes at a good time. It’s a great holiday gift!
A cute moment...
Michelle learned early in childhood that she could discuss things with her parents. Her parents would listen to her ideas...Even debating was allowed.
She was little. She asked her mother one day, “why do we eat eggs in the morning?”
That led to a discussion about the value of protein. So Michelle thought about it and did a little research and realize that peanut butter had protein. She likes Peanut butter, but she didn’t like eggs. So she was able to negotiate. For the next nine years she had a thick peanut butter sandwich every morning for breakfast and never ate an egg again.
Years later a college counselor was the opposite of listening to Michelle. The woman didn’t value who she was ( a MERIT SCHOLAR - top 10% of her graduating class),.....
she told Michelle she wouldn’t be “ Princeton material”. Michelle will slowly getting stronger and believing in herself.... but was definitely vulnerable and sensitive to a feeling inside of not being good enough. But that day she decided she was going to at least apply to Princeton..... she went and got her recommendation letter from a great neighbor who also worked at the school. She never talk to that counselor again....
In other words she wasn’t the woman she celebrated with when she was accepted.
Michelle Robinson Obama - is helping breakdown those prejudices just by speaking out - her voice is powerful - she’s more than good enough! She’s A GIFT TO OUR COUNTRY.....a woman who continues to be true to herself - making a difference being who she is .....just keep her sharing!
I understand the hype!
I didn't know much about Michelle Obama nor her husband. This book absolutely humanized them and show me how much they care about others. The contrast with the actual political situation is blatant.
"I was humbled and excited to be First Lady, but not for one second did I think I'd be sliding into some glamorous, easy role. Nobody who has the words 'first' and 'black' attached to them ever would. I stood at the foot of the mountain, knowing I'd need to climb my way into favor."
God, do I miss the Obamas.
Since I've had the right to vote, two presidents have energized and excited me—Bill Clinton and Barack Obama. That's not to say that I agreed with everything they did, or that there weren't times when they disappointed me. But in both cases, their candidacy and then their campaigns for re-election motivated me enough to volunteer, excited me enough to be fraught with nerves as election results came in, gave me cause for celebration, and left me sad when their terms ended.
Reading Michelle Obama's new memoir, Becoming , reminded me of those times. It also reminded me just what a fan I've been of hers since watching her and her daughters when President Obama declared his candidacy for the White House almost 12 years ago, since hearing her speak at the 2008 Democratic National Convention. I was always wowed by the sheer joy she appeared to have for the job of First Lady, despite the overwhelming amount of cruelty she and her family were subjected to throughout her husband's two terms as President.
With Becoming , she gives you a glimpse into her childhood and her relationship with her parents, which definitely impacted the way she carried herself throughout her life and how she raised her two daughters. It tells of her ambitions, her desire to help make the world a better place (one clearly shared by her husband), the challenges of marriage and motherhood, and how she dealt with her husband's political ambitions. She talks of her desire to make an impact as First Lady while at the same time ensuring her daughters' lives were as "normal" as they could possibly be, and the successes, frustrations, and disappointments she experienced.
I love the matter-of-fact way she shares her feelings and experiences, revealing emotions and fears and moments of anger, as well as the moments of sheer joy, as mother, as wife, as daughter, and as First Lady. While she certainly reveals instances when she felt she wasn't treated fairly by the media or by those unhappy with her husband (or her), this isn't a tell-all book. She is critical of those that deserve her scorn, but even when she didn't see eye to eye with people, she didn't tear them to pieces.
For the most part, the Michelle Obama you've seen at public appearances, on television shows, and in photos, is the Michelle Obama you get in Becoming . And that feels just right. This is a woman who loves her life, loves her country, and most importantly, loves her husband, her children, and her family. She doesn't overinflate her importance or her contributions as First Lady but she realizes she held a position few women have through history, and to be the first black woman to be First Lady made her a role model in the eyes of so many. It may have been a position she wasn't always comfortable with, but it is a role in which she absolutely shone.
"For me, becoming isn't about arriving somewhere or achieving a certain aim. I see it instead as forward motion, a means of evolving, a way to reach continuously toward a better self. The journey doesn't end. I became a mother, but I still have a lot to learn from and give to my children. I became a wife, but I continue to adapt to and be humbled by what it means to truly love and make a life with another person. I have become, by certain measures, a person of power, and yet there are moments when I still feel insecure or unheard. It's all a process, steps along a path. Becoming requires equal parts patience and rigor. Becoming is never giving up on the idea that there's more growing to be done."
There was much to enjoy about this book, much to think about, and much to savor. And, at least for me, much to reminisce about.
See all of my reviews at itseithersadnessoreuphoria.blogspot.com, or check out my list of the best books I read in 2017 at https://itseithersadnessoreuphoria.blogspot.com/2018/01/the-best-books-i-read-in-2017.html.
I’m so thrilled to add Becoming to my list! A powerful, surprising and moving book as well as refreshingly candid that I think will be deeply inspirational to many.