Becoming by Michelle Obama- A Commentary

Books, reading challenge 2019

I finished Michelle Obama’s recently released memoir Becoming yesterday. It was a great read and held my attention from beginning to end. If you are a fan of Mother Obama, I would highly recommend the read! I was consistently struck by her transparency and honesty. With a characteristically disarming approach, she discusses the pain of losing her father, the missteps of a young professional, her relationship with Barack Obama, and her continued dislike of politics. Obama approaches each difficulty and triumph with a her humanness on display, a steady and purposeful reminder that politicians (and those that love them) are indeed just people.

Mrs. Obama’s prose was easier to pore over than her husband’s early memoir (the subject of my first review 😅). The book did at times feel political, but that might be the cynic in me. After living in the public eye and under great scrutiny for more than 8 years while your husband was indeed THE politician, I imagine it would be difficult to omit politics or political opinions. In any case, she dispels any rumor or hope that she will EVER run for political office. And, she addresses big, bad Donald Trump’s unscrupulous presidential candidacy and the 2016 election that many of us are still reeling from.

The Obama family felt a great responsibility towards perfection during their time in office…sacrificing personal and family freedoms as a result. This is not the suggest they are the first or the only political family to sacrifice and to suffer. Many in public life sacrifice a great deal. However, I was confronted by the great responsibility they felt as the first African-American family in America’s highest office, in a country where race relations are still far from resolved. Michelle Obama never wanted this for her life or her family. She grappled with guilt, exhaustion, and confusion as a mother, while at the same time acknowledging the privileges such a life had provided. Reading her account illuminated that this was not the path of happiest or simplest life, but rather the path of the most meaning, the most impact.

I learned that being the president is lonely and difficult, and being the first family is a sacrificial act. I closed the book feeling immensely grateful for the devotion of all those in public service, from the secret service agents that swear to put another life before their own, to members of the military, and to the journalists seeking truth and accountability.

Michelle Obama’s Becoming– 4.5/5 stars!

2019-01-24_15-54-22.png

My next book is Alexander Hamilton by Ron Chernow. It is a long book (and I am 1 book behind schedule) so I may have to get creative with how I tackle this goal and my free time. But, I want to read what I want to read. Page numbers be damned.

Onward!

Publication Dates and the Magic of Overlapping Narratives

Books, reading challenge 2019

One exciting benefit of reading Michelle Obama’s Becoming immediately after Barack Obama’s Dreams from My Father: A story of race and inheritance is that I am able to cross reference the details of stories and interesting facts, reinforcing the things I would like to take away from both books. Through this process, I realized I had the timeline on the 44th president’s first memoir completely wrong!

As Michelle detailed the details of her husband’s first book, it did not align with what I had thought and posted about previously when discussing my first book of the year. I assumed his book came out prior to his initial entry into politics, but this is actually incorrect. The book was originally published in 1995, long before he became the political phenom that won the presidency in 2008. The book was, however, re-released in 2004 as his political career began to take hold.

It is interesting to read these 2 books in succession. Their overlapping narratives and 23 year publication date difference provides a really fascinating and fun comparison.