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’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.
5 Extremely Poignant Stars for “Becoming”
When I think of Michelle Obama, the words that come to mind are: Grace Personified.
She exemplifies all of the qualities I admire most: beauty, elegance, honor, kindness, intelligence and dignity. To say that I miss the Obamas is an understatement.
Going into this read, I knew I would be emotional. Truth be told, that didn’t begin to describe my reaction to hearing Michelle Obama’s words, her thoughts and learning about her, a good portion of which I’m ashamed to admit, I didn’t know. The former first lady’s humble beginnings, her close knit family, her education and her accomplishments, they simply blew me away. Princeton, Harvard, working at and forming Non-Profits (not to mention her accomplishments as the First Lady!): I am awestruck by you Michelle Obama.
The moment Michelle meets Barack Obama when he summers at Sidney Austin, the law firm she is an Associate at, she feels it. That spark. My eyes filled, they glossed over, the tears fell. The two shared an ice cream cone and became an us. (Here, listening to this, I admit to sobbing, heavily). The inflection and enthusiasm in Michelle Obama’s voice, her feelings of love for this man, it is so evident. We saw them every day for 8 years. Such sweet romance, pure pure love and complete respect for each other and their relationship. Oh how I love them. Oh how I miss them.
From life in politics, campaigning, being bullied, becoming the First Lady and raising Malia and Sasha in the White House, Michelle Obama gives an honest portrayal of what life was like for her and Barack Obama. While in the White House, the President always made time for family. Always having dinner with them. Never discussing politics. Family was their bond. Yet his love for this Nation was and is still evident.
There were so many moments while listening to this audiobook that I teared up. Not just teared up, but sobbed uncontrollably. Her words, her voice, her thoughts struck a chord, for a myriad of reasons, some sad, some happy. I tear up just thinking about them.
Michelle Obama memoir is about “Becoming” - her life’s journey, the amazing part of course, is that it never ends. Her final message is one of hope, of letting people in, and helping others. I received it.
Thank you to Michelle Obama for sharing your life with us. I am honored.
Published on Goodreads, Amazon and Twitter on 12.8.18.
Excerpt to be published on Instagram.
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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I just finished this PHENOMENAL book–seriously, probably THE best autobiography I’ve ever laid my hands on! It’s now in vogue–the coolest new trend–for people to write a book about their lives, and I respect that trend for allowing us to read more TRUE, REAL stories about REAL people. BUT, Becoming is the first autobiography I’ve ever felt I’ve truly connected with, learned from and became a better person for having read it. Within these pages, I both saw myself and re-found myself within Michelle Obama’s narrative; I saw myself in her story and have truly learned a few life changing lessons from this 421-page journey she’s shared with us. It is a rare thing, indeed, for me to be able to say that about any book—that I identified with the words, felt the words in a heartfelt way and came away changed because of those series of words on a page that had been so thoughtfully and candidly laid out.
I had the honor of going to see Michelle Obama on her book tour at her Washington D.C. stop the Sunday after Thanksgiving. (In an ironic full circle of events in my experience with this book, I went to see her speak with a friend I met here on Goodreads who has become a very close friend of mine.) Michelle Obama was…everything. She was witty and frankly hilarious; she was open and forthright; she was graceful and dignified, a true orator and inspiration.
The tickets to this event sold out within hours--a completely filled arena, pictured above as it is starting to fill.
Both in her book and in her talks, she speaks openly about what it was like to be a young black girl from the South Side of Chicago—during the time when whites were fleeing the area and poverty seemed to be creeping its way in—to becoming a young woman at Princeton, unsure of her footing in the new social climate but still clinging to her rigidly drawn-up plan and schedule for her life (of which becoming First Lady was never a part).
I’d constructed my existence carefully, tucking and folding every loose and disorderly bit of it…I had labored over its creation. I was proud of how it looked. But it was delicate. If one corner came untucked, I might discover that I was restless. If another popped loose, it might reveal I was uncertain about the professional path I’d so deliberately put myself on, about all the things I told myself I wanted.
She walks us through graduating from college and enduring the loss of one of her best friends to an aggressive cancer at the young age of 26 years old and how this changed her outlook on the world and her path through it. Within these pages you’ll learn how she first met Barack Obama, a man who would change her world and ours in so many ways—how he arrived at work late that first day she was to mentor him, wet from the rainy day outside but still sure of himself and confident in a way that spoke of humility. From IVF to being a senator’s wife to the horrible shock of how dirty and personal politics can turn, Michelle Obama gives us an insightful glimpse into her journey into and out of the White House, her personal trek into becoming the icon she is today—a label she still humbly finds bewildering but that she has learned to hone for the betterment of our nation and the society-focused programs she has championed.
Throughout it all, Michelle Obama’s outlook is optimistic, her voice clear, witty, candid and insightful. How did she feel the first time she experienced life inside of the presidential motorcade? What fears did she have of exposing her daughters to the “maw” of public life? And how did she accommodate her outlook on politics –
I’ve never been a fan of politics, and my experience over the last ten years has done little to change that. I continue to be put off by the nastiness—the tribal segregation of red and blue, this idea that we’re supposed to choose one side and stick to it, unable to listen and compromise, or sometimes even to be civil.
–and her negative experience within the whirlwind of it—
A Fox news chyron referred to me as “Obama’s Baby Mama,” conjuring cliched notions of black-ghetto America, implying an otherness that put me outside even my own marriage. I was getting worn out, not physically, but emotionally. The punches hurt, even if I understood that they had little to do with who I really was as a person. It was as if there were some cartoon version of me out there wreaking havoc, a woman I kept hearing about but didn’t know—a too-tall, too-forceful, ready-to-emasculate Godzilla of a political wife named Michelle Obama.
–to achieve what she has, and with such grace, for our nation, the Democratic party, for children and for people (girls and women especially) of color?
Just as the discerning look at the viciousness of American politics will enrage you and make you question the leaders we’ve elected to power, so will Michelle Obama’s experience with the other side of her First Lady journey, the experience with the purity of spirit of genuinely good people—no matter their political affiliations, nationality or socio-economic status—move you.
One day in San Antonio, Texas, I noticed a minor commotion in the hallway of the military hospital I was visiting. Nurses shuffled urgently in and out of the room I was about to enter. “He won’t stay in bed,” I heard someone whisper. Inside, I found a broad-shouldered young man from rural Texas who had multiple injuries and whose body had been severely burned. He was in clear agony, tearing off the bedsheets and trying to slide his feet to the floor. It took us all a minute to understand what he was doing. Despite his pain, he was trying to stand up and salute the wife of his commander in chief.
As I read Becoming, I HAD to read it with a pen and highlighter in hand, hence why it took me so long to complete it. I had to savor every word, go back and re-read passages. Just today, as I was nearing the epilogue, a woman sitting next to me asked, “What are you studying?” I turned the book over and told her, “Michelle Obama’s Becoming.” I hope that gives you an idea of the intensity and connection with which I read this book. To say that I highly recommend this book to any and everyone—especially to American women, women of color and people who have felt persecuted or “othered” by their upbringings or the color of their skin—would be a clear understatement. There is so much truth and integrity and raw emotion to be pointed out in this autobiography, but to do so here would be to write a whole book about the marvels of this book. What I will say is that Becoming earned an easy 5 stars before I’d even finished the preface and continued in its discerning excellence thereafter. There is truly something within these pages for everyone because, as Michelle Obama so elegantly states:
I’m an ordinary person who found herself on an extraordinary journey. In sharing my story, I hope to help create space for other stories and other voices, to widen the pathway for who belongs and why…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.
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I didn’t think I could admire and respect former First Lady Michelle Obama any more than I already did. For eight years she graced our country with her presence, her intellect, her caring. We never had to ask because it is obvious in everything she says and does that she does care. Without a doubt, she cares more than anything about her family, but also cares deeply about this country. Then I read this book, an eloquent memoir, strikingly honest and as inspiring as I suspected it would be. I felt even more admiration and respect for her.
She recounts her time growing up on the South Side of Chicago as she shares the joys of her childhood as well as some of the tough things. She was a feisty child, driven to do well in school. Her story begins : “I spent much of my childhood listening to the sound of striving.” She speaks lovingly of her roots in this working class family - her parents and her brother and grandparents and how their values shaped the adult she would become. We witness the grief she experienced over the loss of her father and her continuing admiration and love for her mother who was tenacious in seeking a good education for her children. In this memoir, she is so open and honest and it feels so intimate. Michelle shares her love for her husband and daughters. She speaks about the discrimination against the men in her family, about being black at Princeton, about the attacks on her husband’s citizenship, a conspiracy theory primary pushed by the person who unfortunately followed him after his second term. We discover who she is in the times she is undergoing a self discovery, as she questions her aspirations, as she juggles work and motherhood as Barack’s involvement and aspirations in politics grow. It felt so intimate as she shares some personal struggles that they faced, ones that I don’t think she ever divulged publicly previous to this.
The things she chose to focus on as First Lady - children and their health, assisting military families, developing a program for mentoring young women reflect the things that are important to her and the kind of person she is. With an intellect such as hers, she easily could have taken on larger policy issues, but instead focused on children and families bringing people into the White House who would not have had the opportunity to be there if not for her. This book is over 400 pages and it never felt long. The writing is good and I just kept turning page after page always interested in what she would say next. A remarkable story of a remarkable woman.