I have always loved all things first lady. When given the decision of which museum to visit in Washington D.C. I always have a hard time choosing any other than the Museum of American History to admire the dresses and pearls of each first lady. I love the way their clothing embodies that era, both the economy in its elegance and the role that women played in the culture of our nation. I grew up admiring Laura and Barbara’s poise, Jackie’s fashion, and Michelle’s courage.
I was excited for this read as I have admired Michelle Obama’s drive, ambition, sense of fashion, and extremely in shape upper body. Countless friends were posting this, too, was their Christmas read. I found myself surprised by Michelle’s talent as a writer with incredibly descriptive word choice and images that invited me into her small apartment in Chicago she grew up in and eventually invited me to the White House, the home she gave everything to help her husband reach, which often felt so isolating.
This autobiography begins all the way back as a young girl finds her way through the school system of Chicago. I learned many new facets of Michelle’s life including her father’s struggle with MS, her Ivy League education, law career, and that she and Barak met as she was his intern advisor one summer at their law firm.
Throughout Becoming, I enjoyed getting to know the Obamas as people, rather than figures, hearing about their first dates, arguments, differences, and struggles. The book renewed my appreciation for so many individuals who are so committed to politics and change that they make countless sacrifices including time away from their family and regular public scrutiny. It was interesting to learn of how the tragedies and successes of the United States of America specifically affected the home of the president and the conversation at the Obamas’ dinner table that followed. Furthermore as Obama took office as I was just beginning high school, it was fascinating for me to relive the experiences of our nation as an adult, holding their weight a little more clearly.
In Becoming, I learned nuances to the United States presidency I had not previously known which I found incredibly interesting. Specifically as the first lady, Michelle Obama shares of the difficulty of taking on a position with no job description, yet with countless expectations, commitments, and limitations. Michelle shares of the burden when they learned Barak had won the presidency of finding a new school for her girls and just praying they would be seen and known as girls rather than their last name. She shares of the fear of having to uproot themselves from just feeling settled when Barak was up for reelection for his second term. Beyond any preconceived notions or caricatures, what I loved most in hearing about Michelle’s tenure as a first lady was the heart of a Mama who wanted the very best for her girls.
The book occasionally felt drawn out and long, yet Michelle interwove many of her anecdotes into later occurrences in her life. She speaks openly and honestly of the challenges of often finding herself as the only black person in the room and the challenge the Obamas faced as a couple of not only representing themselves or their families, but the entirety of the community.
I felt welcomed by Michelle Obama to consider more deeply the uniqueness of my own story and how it has painted, shaped, and sculpted the person I am today. I felt empowered to own the spaces I fill with confidence, but mostly authenticity. Despite it’s length, I would greatly recommend this read.