Book Review – Becoming, Michelle Obama

Book Becoming
Author Michelle Obama
Release date 13th November 2018
Genre Memoir and Autobiography

A book about the Becoming of a woman and her life, her relationships. Though there have been other similar books, to my mind, this stands out for several reasons. The most significant one is that it portrays the rise of a woman from a background that was not privileged. In fact, it was an extremely modest one. And added to that was her struggle as a black woman whether as a child or at Princeton or later in life. What emerges from the pages of the book is the courage, the boldness, the resilience and the honesty of the woman.

If Michelle rose to be the First Woman of one of the world’s largest countries, it was no small feat. Yes, she didn’t become the President, but she enabled her husband to become one. And her role as the enabler was a more challenging one.

To enable means to ensure that everything is just right for the other person. He gets what he wants, how he wants, and when he wants it. The enabler has to ensure all of that and more. You have to put your life on hold, be at the beck and call of your other half’s needs. And to top it all you have to maintain a semblance of normality at home to ensure that your children have a regular life doing things that other children of their age are doing. Along with that, if you wish to hold your own and do not wish to be just a trophy wife, then heaven help you!!

So Michelle did all of that and more with aplomb and grace. She made the role of the First Lady seem like a cakewalk, but of course, that’s not true.

The story of her life proves beyond doubt the role of a stable upbringing in an individual’s life. The roots that your parents give you, if not firm enough can lead to your getting swayed by the winds of change and upheavals of life. But if they are firm and strong, then they can help you stay firm and focused. Fraser and Marian Robinson gave the kind of roots to their two children Craig and Michelle, which enabled the children to stay grounded even when the going got tough. So whether it was their personal or professional lives, they not only managed adverse situations but did so very well.

Michelle has divided her story into three stages, starting from her life as a young girl to her becoming a lawyer and meeting Barack and then to moving to the White House and after that.

She talks about her Becoming herself, about the struggle, the strife to do well academically and become a successful lawyer amidst adversity.
She talks about Becoming Us, about her meeting Barack and their coming together and making a life.

And then she talks about the most challenging of the Becoming stages. She speaks of Becoming More, of a life which is entirely different and even more challenging from the one she had been leading thus far. She talks about Becoming the First Lady of the United States.

As she says, ‘ There is no handbook for incoming First Ladies of the United States. It’s not technically a job, nor is it an official government title. It’s a strange kind of sidecar to the presidency’.

And I feel it is this stage of her life which tested her grit, her resilience to the maximum. It made her what she is known for today. It made her be known and remembered even after she left the White House.

Michelle and Barack were the first African American couple to have entered the place, and by the time they left it they and in particular, she had made sure that it was the most welcoming and inclusive White House. She talks of her standing by her husband through some of the most harrowing times of his presidency while carving out a niche for herself as an advocate of women’s rights, healthy living and as a mother to two level- headed daughters amid all the media frenzy and attention.

An extremely powerful, inspiring and honest write up by a woman of today’s times which can resonate with many women around the world. And what is more, the woman’s storytelling abilities make sure that you can’t stop reading the book till you have finished it.

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