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“Becoming” Michelle Obama: Former first lady opens up about her growth from childhood to life after the White House

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“Becoming” Michelle Obama: Former first lady opens up about her growth from childhood to life after the White House

photo by Aliza Rabinovitz

photo by Aliza Rabinovitz

photo by Aliza Rabinovitz

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“Becoming” by Michelle Obama is unexpectedly candid and comprehensive, while (not- surprisingly) inspiring. Perhaps most importantly, it lives up to its title. “Becoming” is not just the story of Obama’s years in the White House, or of her family or career. Rather, it is the journey of her whole self, from her childhood to the present day, an amalgamation of all the moments that have and continue to shape her identity.

Obama leaves no stone unturned in “Becoming.” She not only tells about her childhood from the perspective of that moment, but reflects on her growth until now. One important example of this is when she writes about her family. As a child, she felt that certain relatives, such as her aunt, were harsh or strict. Instead of just putting this perception out there, Obama contextualizes her aunt with a backstory about her participation in the struggle for civil rights.

In being written this way, both in the moment and reflective on history, Obama teaches and tells. The book is simultaneously engaging and educational. Coming away from the book, I felt that, especially in the beginning chapters, I learned as much about Obama as I did about Chicago and its South Side, where she grew up and spent much of her adult life.

“Becoming” is powerful to me because it is not only written in a way that touches the reader, but also motivates them. The lessons taught are hard to achieve, but not hard to grasp. In all, the book sends a message that anything is possible, but it is written in a way that this transforms from an abstract concept to something realistic.

She elaborates in-depth about her experiences in predominately wite communities and her struggles there to fit in and find her place. These stories not only speak to Obama’s fortitude but her credibility to relay this message.

When discussing her agreeing to her husband running for president, Obama touches on the hardships the couple saw people face in Chicago and across the country, whether in underprivileged, disabled or other populations. “We understood, in other words, how ridiculously fortunate we were, and we both felt an obligation not to be complacent,” Obama writes. I think these words encapsulate what “Becoming” means to me: a message to be aware of any luck you have and to be proactive as a result; to take advantage of any privilege by fighting for those who don’t have it.

I highly recommend “Becoming” to anyone, regardless of age or political leaning. It isn’t cheesy or too serious, but the perfect in-between. When I read it, it felt like I was actually reading about a life, one that wasn’t sugarcoated or exaggerated. The stories told are unique to the text as they have not been not told before and are more personal than one would expect.

“Becoming” is entirely realistic and this tone makes Obama’s success so amazing. It is not trying to preach to the audience, but to talk about the world and Obama’s experience in it. In that way, the lessons I took away from it may be different from that of another reader. The way Obama made the book into this personal and individual experience is really why I loved it. I rate the book 4.75 out of five stars. Aside from being lengthy, it is an extremely worthwhile read.

This story was featured in the Volume 36, Issue 3 edition of The Lion’s Tale, published on Dec. 20, 2018.

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