Becoming by Michelle Obama – Review (Very personal and intimate? Review)

Hello everyone!

This was long overdue and it took me longer than I thought but I’m finally putting up my review for Becoming by former First Lady of the United States, Michelle Robinson-Obama. I had to gather all my thoughts and my overpouring of love for this book. This review is a little different than others because this book really hit home for me.

An intimate, powerful, and inspiring memoir by the former First Lady of the United States.

Synopsis: 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. (Goodreads)

Rating: FIVE SPECTACULAR STARS

Format: audiobook

I feel like I should quickly introduce myself first so you can better understand how I went into this book. I’m Karla, I’m twenty years old and I was born in Germany but I grew up in France. My parents are both from Africa (Togo) and that explains my dark skin. Growing up in a predominantly white neighbourhood and in my studies, the more I grew up, the more I found myself being at times the only Black girl in the room. As a child and young teen, I had no role models who looked relatively like me in the media and I suffered from racism and all the stereotypes that come with the lot of being a dark-skinned Black woman.

When Barack Obama became the 44th President of the United States, I was 9 years old and everything he stood for, went over my head. I couldn’t grasp the fact that The United States, a country with a difficult past with race and racism, had elected its first Black President. I’m not trying to erase Barack Obama’s Black identity here but with my binary 9 year-old brain, it did not make sense to me why his “white” side was being erased because after all he was biracial, and simply passing as a light-skinned dark man. All the intricacies went over my head once again. However, when I saw his wife and his children I was happy that people who looked like me where being shown on TV; that ended there.

Now as a 2O year old, I fully understand everything he stands for. I understand why he was seen as the first “Black” president and his message of hope. Contrary to former presidents, he was not particularly set to be Presiden due to privilege. Barack Obama is biracial and being half- “black” sets you up to prejudice and discrimination, especially if you “look” like a Black person just as much as the next Black guy. The United States are a very talked-about country and the news outlet covered all the important events that happened under Obama’s presidency: from his ” Yes We Can” campaign, to Ben Laden’s death, to his Nobel Peace prize until the end of his presidency.

As I said before, Representation is important and having that Black family in a place of power, in the spotlight meant a lot to me. Just as movies like Black Panter, Crazy Rich Asians or the musical Hamilton are important to me because they reflect our society; they send the message that minorities are worthy and against all odds, thriving. (See Aditi’s very good article about representation here)

I didn’t know anything about Michelle Obama’s former life expect for these facts: she studied at Harvard, she was First Lady, she’s Barack Obama’s wife, she’s popular, she militates for health and education and she’s a mother.

Her autobiography is divided into three parts: Becoming Me relating her childhood, Becoming Us relating her career, marriage and motherhood, Becoming More relating her experience at the White House and all her challenges. What surprised me, where her storytelling skills. Every part was perfectly linked to the next. There was not a dull moment: every line, sentence or word was pertinent, honest, heartful and poignant. I appreciated how she stripped herself bare in front of the world, how honest and willing she was to expose her flaws but also her strenghs, her aspirations, dreams, failures and disappoitments. I thought highly of her but kind of because I followed the trend; now I truly look up to her, for everything she stands for. She is was I could be in the future. Granted, not necessarily a First Lady, but a woman in power with her strenghs and her vulnerability, a caring mother and a supportive, loving wife. I related to Michelle’s story so much. I undertsand too much, the stigma of being seen as an “angry Black woman”, of appearing stern instead of graceful, of everyone thinking I don’t belong. Seeing Michelle Obama being herself unapologetically gave me hope. She’s a Black Girl from the South side of Chicago with two Ivy League degrees, two childen and a husband who was President of the United States. And she’s all those things and more ( a daughter, a friend, a leader) because she belived in herself and others did too. I am so grateful that she used her voice to share this message of hope. I have been fortunate enough to have a mother who pushed me and told me that I was enough. I’m happy to see that people have at least a former First Lady telling them that they matter and that they are enough. Her story brought tears to my eyes many times, especially when she talked about her miscarriage; how many women could relate? Seeing Michelle so open and bare about how she felt was heartwarming and truly something beautiful. I loved this book to death and I’m so glad I read it as an audiobook because I felt like she was personally cheering me on and I’m glad that her message is out there in the world, for me and other young people to see, hear and read.

Here are a few of her inspiring words:

“If you don’t get out there and define yourself, you’ll be quickly and inaccurately defined by others.” 

“The choice, as he saw it, was this: You give up or you work for change. “What’s better for us?” Barack called to the people gathered in the room. “Do we settle for the world as it is, or do we work for the world as it should be?” 

“Failure is a feeling long before it becomes an actual result. It’s vulnerability that breeds with self-doubt and then is escalated, often deliberately, by fear.” 

“It’s remarkable how a stereotype functions as an actual trap. How many “angry black women” have been caught in the circular logic of that phrase? When you aren’t being listened to, why wouldn’t you get louder? If you’re written off as angry or emotional, doesn’t that just cause more of the same?” “If you don’t get out there and define yourself, you’ll be quickly and inaccurately defined by others.” 

“Do we settle for the world as it is, or do we work for the world as it should be?” “If you don’t get out there and define yourself, you’ll be quickly and inaccurately defined by others.” 

“Failure is a feeling long before it becomes an actual result. It’s vulnerability that breeds with self-doubt and then is escalated, often deliberately, by fear.” 

“The choice, as he saw it, was this: You give up or you work for change. “What’s better for us?” Barack called to the people gathered in the room. “Do we settle for the world as it is, or do we work for the world as it should be?” 
― Michelle Obama, Becoming

What did you think? This review is very different because this book really touched me deeply. Have you read it? Let’s chat in the comments! Karla xx

6 thoughts on “Becoming by Michelle Obama – Review (Very personal and intimate? Review)

  1. Wow, this is a wonderful review! I still haven’t read Becoming, sadly, but I hope to soon! Thank you for linking to my post as well. I agree that racial stigmas are predominant here in the USA and I look up to Michelle!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. […] The first two books were mandatory reads for my French Literature class and they were meh, especially Michaux’s poetry anthology which I gave a two-stars rating for. It was so bad, that it put me in a reading slump. I really can’t wait for my classes on those books because I still can’t see why they’re “masterpieces”. Witch Hat Atelier was my first manga ever and it was so cute! It was a quick (I read it in three hours), fluffy and interesting read! It reminded me so much of Harry Potter, as we follow Coco, the main character, as she discovers her magical world (she even picks her own wand!). As for Becoming I adored it!I had high hopes and the book lived up to them, if not more! You can see my full (and very personal) review here! […]

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