Rating: 5/5 stars
Pages: 426 pages
This was one of my most anticipated reads of 2018. Of course, the anticipation I felt for the book resulted in me waiting to read it. And let me tell you, it is WELL worth the read. It may have taken me a couple of months to get to it, but Becoming has a good chance of being one of my favourite reads in 2019.
As I listened to the AudioBook of Becoming, I got to listen to Michelle telling her own personal story. I highly recommend listening to the AudioBook if you can as the emotion that flows through Michelle’s voice while she’s telling her story lends such power to her words. While reading her words is inspiring in and of itself, hearing how these stories continue to impact Michelle adds even deeper layers to an already meaningful story.
One of the things I really enjoyed about this story was the fact that Michelle jumped right into her story. Splitting the story into three main sections – Becoming Me, Becoming Us, and Becoming More – may have broken down the story into bite sized chunks, but it no way took away from the whole story. Michelle started right at the beginning, explaining what came together to make her the amazing woman she is today. She explained some of the hardships she faced as well as some of the amazing moments she experienced growing up. From there Michelle discussed meeting Barack and how it’d taken her a while to fall for his charming ways. Of course, the story didn’t end there just like her life didn’t end with Barack’s presidency. Learning what life was life after, when a person finally has a chance to breathe, was refreshing. To see that even though she never wanted to be a politician’s life Michelle never let it keep her down for long.
The most important thing that this book shows is the power of telling your own story. Michelle went through a lot in her life and it all help create the amazing woman she is today. But it’s through reading her story that you get a deeper sense of who Michelle is as a person. It allows for people to connect with her on a deeper level, to understand the struggles she’s been through. To understand that it’s important to show the world who you are and be unapologetic about it. To use your strengths to get further in life, not to hide in a place of comfort.
In a sense, this is a story about overcoming the inherent biases that come from being part of a marginalized group. While I cannot personally relate to this message as I have lived in a favoured position my whole life, even I get a sense of how impactful this story can be. Hearing how Michelle worked hard to bring diversity into her workforce was inspiring. To read about the struggles that Barack and Michelle went through during his presidential campaign was eye opening. I applaud and am awed by the people who faced adversary and triumph over it.
Finally, this is a book about how you can fulfill your life’s ambitions while still being a good parent. Michelle and Barack had to work hard to give their children as normal a life as possible while being the first couple of the US. They found a school that they thought would be the best for them, that would allow them to have a semi-normal childhood. They were embarrassing parents – just like all kids should have. Malia and Sasha were encouraged to hang out with their friends – even if there needed to be extra security when they did. But still, Michelle ensured that if their friends were making last minute plans to hang out the girls were allowed to go. Hanging out with friends sometimes entails split second decision and not careful planning. And of course Malia worried that her parents would embarrass her when she was getting picked up by her prom date. These things just go to show that Michelle and Barack didn’t let their position as first couple of the US hinder their children’s lives completely. They still wanted them to experience childhood.
If you’re a person who doesn’t like hefty books you shouldn’t have a problem getting through this one. While this is a decently sized book, I found myself flying through it. It almost reads like a collection of short stories, making Becoming a book that is easy to pick up and put down at will. You don’t have to read the book all in one sitting in order to get dragged back into the words, Michelle’s words are just that powerful.