Friday, December 14, 2018

Becoming by Michelle Obama

Rating: 5 of 5 stars
Length: 19:03:00

Narrated by: Michelle Obama
Published: November 2018

Unless you live under a rock, you know that this fall Becoming by former First Lady of the United States of America, Michelle Obama, was published and has quickly become (aha, see what I did there?) a bestseller. I pre-ordered the book via Audible earlier this year and began listening as soon as it was available. 

As I was selecting keyword tags for this post, I considered choosing politics. I decided against it because this is a book about the life of Michelle LaVaughn Robinson Obama. While she does share behind the scenes information about her husband's politics and his successful, consecutive presidential campaigns, the book is her life story. Furthermore, she makes it very clear that she does not enjoy politics nor does she have any political aspirations of her own. During the 2018 mid-term elections, I read an article about Heidi Cruz (wife of Texas Senator Ted Cruz) and how she, at times, feels relegated to simply being the wife of Ted Cruz rather than the educated, professional, individual person she is. I think this happens to many women who are connected with high profile men - once again proving what the Obamas have often said - we are all more alike than we are different. So, if you have not read Becoming and decide to embark on Mrs. Obama's life journey thus far, please read it with an autobiographical lens that happens to include the 44th President of the United States. 

The book begins with Mrs. Obama's childhood and she works her way chronologically through her formative years, her Princeton and Harvard years, meeting Barack Obama, her struggles conceiving their children, the family's journey to the White House, pretty much through present day. It is her detailed, personal account. While listening to her masterfully read the book, I felt like she was a good friend sharing a phenomenal story. Many of the stories she shared I recalled from the not too distant past, some were new to me, and others offered a different view from the accounts by the news media. 

The aspect of Mrs. Obama's life that resonated most with me was her constant relationship with the media - traditional and social. In the book, she often mentions being under the never-ending microscope of society by way of the media. This, of course, is what politicians and their families take on in their service to their city, county, state, and country. However, as anyone could imagine, it seemed to weigh on Mrs. Obama at times. A full two years post-office, and just the other day I witnessed one of my Facebook connections refer to Mrs. Obama as an animal. It's sad. It's demoralizing, and it's not right. As Mrs. Obama noted in her book, the "office" of First Lady isn't an official one nor is it a paid position. When the current First Lady said that she is one of the "most bullied" people, her statement was met with laughter and jokes. But I don't really think she was far off the mark. Being in the public eye can be exhausting. We, as private citizens, experience that via social media (some of us to a greater degree if one's messaging is extremely controversial and goes viral). I think our society would be much better served if we all extended some grace and kindness to one another - especially to those who are serving our country in various capacities. 

While the Mrs. Obama's memoir is just over 19 listening hours, it really didn't seem that long. Mrs. Obama has a great reading voice that helps guide the reader through her life story. There is so much detail, I certainly cannot give a comprehensive review. I can just say this - many First Ladies have written a book about their time in the White House, and this one is historical and worth reading. 

Recommendation: I would definitely recommend this read, especially the audio version. It was nice hearing Mrs. Obama's inflection and tone as she recounted some interesting and funny stories. It also evoked emotion when she demonstrated her vulnerabilities, making her more relatable to African Americans, women, and, most importantly, Americans. I'm told the hard copy book has a nice inset of photos. So, maybe buy a hard copy and get the audio companion also! 

Until next time ... Read on!

Regardless of whether I purchase a book, borrow a book, or receive a book in exchange for review, my ultimate goal is to be honest, fair, and constructive. I hope you've found this review helpful.


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