Readers lead and once in a while, in the spirit of encouraging you to read more, we upload book reviews. This article is a review of the book, ‘Becoming’ by Michelle Obama. At the end of the article, you will find a link to another book review.
Becoming is former American first lady Michelle Obama’s autobiography. Barrack Obama is the first black American president and had Michelle at his side as first lady.
Becoming is a detailed book about a remarkable journey. It tells of how a black girl, a descendant of slaves, rises out of a humble background to not only fulfill the expectations of her parents and society but also to surpass them. It inspires by showing how this girl is born into a family that doesn’t even own their home yet goes on to live in the huge palatial residence that is the White House.
You will allow me to call her Miche, because after reading her book, I feel as if I know her at a friendly and personal level. She writes in a detailed and descriptive manner, in which you can clearly see the Princeton and Harvard educated lawyer. Still, even with the use of big words that are meant to give clearer, more precise meaning, Miche maintains a most welcome level of simplicity and understandability throughout her book.
A part of Miche’s journey particularly appealed to me. She was driven by society’s expectations and misguided by the allure of such a flashy career to become a lawyer. This way, she ended up ignoring her interests and personal inclinations – what her heart really wanted – and choosing the “wrong” profession. I very much relate to that. She is forced, several years into her career as a lawyer in a high end law firm to abandon her job and go for something more fulfilling, a job in which she can be passionate; a move that cuts her salary in half.
Miche’s journey demonstrates the power of a good education and considerate parents. Her parents, even though not well off, sacrificed to ensure that Miche and her brother got the best. Her mother took Miche to the library and taught her how to read even before she joined school, effectively giving her an edge that she sought to maintain throughout her academic life. That same mother, who was a house wife, would later take on a job to ensure that they afforded Miche’s and her brother’s education. All their sacrifice evidently bears fruit.
Miche is a combination of minorities. She is black and she is a woman in a world dominated by whiteness and maleness. She goes on to find herself later on as the only woman in corporate meetings in boardrooms. At Princeton, she is part of a small black minority in comparison with the whites that make up most of the student population. This makes her journey more difficult and her success more remarkable.
The most important lesson in Becoming is that life is a never ending journey. You think are a successful and well educated lawyer and then you are put in front of hundreds of thousands of people and you start wondering whether you are good enough. You think you are a strong couple with two very intelligent minds that can solve any problem; then you have trouble getting a child and you have to seek for help. You think you are two loving adults in a healthy relationship until life starts making cracks in your marriage and you have to seek professional counsel to keep it all from falling apart. You think you live in a very big and luxurious White House; until the queen hosts you in the Buckingham Palace, which is ten times as big and as luxurious as your own White House.
Miche also reveals quite a bit about her husband in her book. She gives us the chance to take glimpses into Obama’s journey to White House. She tells us how untidy he can be and how he had a habit of being late. I had to mention this because it gives me hope, since I also have a few slightly undesirable qualities here and there. If an untidy and unpunctual person can become the world’s most powerful president, there is hope for me too. But she also shows us the remarkable brain, immense drive, vision and optimism that her husband has.
Obama, whose father you will remember was Kenyan by the way, is an extensive reader. At one point, Miche said that he spent all his extra change on books. That bit of info goes a long way in motivating me to read as much as I can because it seems that readers… lead.
Miche’s Becoming was nothing but inspiring, challenging, enlightening and interesting for me. It also took quite an effort to read through to the end, since I am a bit lazy.
All in all, walking with Miche through her journey was worth every minute.
To read another great book review, click on the following link, The Secret to Life