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Becoming by Michelle Obama

Writing.ie | Book Reviews | Memoir

By Swirl and Thread

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‘Let’s invite one another in. Maybe then we can begin to fear less, to make fewer wrong assumptions, to let go of the biases and stereotypes that unnecessarily divide us.’

Becoming by Michelle Obama is ‘an intimate, powerful, and inspiring memoir by the former First Lady of the United States.’

Published on the 13th November by Viking (Penguin Imprint), it is a book that has taken the world by storm and for all the right reasons. It is a book bursting with positivity and honesty, a book that will resonate with many and will bring hope to others.

A fascinating book that I recommend to all, no matter your age, creed, colour or gender. This is the story of an incredible woman……

Michelle Robinson was born in Chicago’s South Side and this is where she lived for many years with her parents, Fraser and Marian, and her brother Craig, in a home that encouraged opinion and discussion. From a young age Michelle expressed herself without fear and with the continued support of her family, she always strived for righteousness and purpose. Her parents sacrificed much, never complaining and always one step ahead of Michelle and Craig’s dreams. Their children were going to be successful and, as their loving parents, they made sure that nothing ever thwarted their ambitions. Marian Robinson was her children’s strongest advocate, making sure that they received the best education and instilling in them the belief that anything was possible. Yet for all her parent’s support, Michelle Robinson spent years doubting herself and asking herself if she was good enough. This became a mantra through her life, when anxiety would take hold, but she strove forward, achieving a high standard in academia, eventually graduating from Princeton and Harvard and entering the world of corporate law.

Her earlier years were central to her character development and would stand to her in the years to come. Her father suffered from the debilitating illness of MS, but he never let his condition affect Michelle or her brother Craig. He continued to work and support his family, building a future for his children, a safety net for them, a home.

The day Michelle was asked to mentor an undergraduate, one Barack Obama, was the day her life would change. ‘He was refreshing, unconventional and weirdly elegant. Not once did I think about him as someone I’d want to date. He would be, I thought to myself, a good summer mentee.’

As the weeks passed, their relationship fell into a routine and Michelle was to realise that Barack Obama was something different…..‘cerebral, probably too cerebral for most people to put up with’. With the passing of the summer months, they developed strong feelings for each other and they soon became a couple, a force we now know to be reckoned with.

Michelle Obama recounts how Barack completed his education and eventually became involved in the political world. Barack Obama believed. He believed that he could make a difference. He believed in people. As Michelle’s career escalated she began to be conscious of the strain on their marriage. With a husband away, and now two small children to be cared for, she was feeling the pressure and was beginning to feel cheated of her own life, the path she had hoped to travel. Her mother, yet again, stepped into the fore allowing the couple to get their lives back on track, albeit at the time, two very separate tracks. It became clear to Michelle that her husband wanted more, he saw a road he could travel where he could make that difference and his destiny was soon sealed.

‘What I hoped was that at some point Barack himself would put an end to the speculation, declaring himself out of contention and directing the media gaze elsewhere. But he didn’t do this. He wouldn’t do this. He wanted to run. He wanted it and I didn’t’

With such honest and open statements throughout this memoir, Michelle Obama has infiltrated the hearts and minds of many. Her directness is refreshing and her attitude to the political world unveils an independent woman with a strength and a purpose intent on challenging a society that has lost it’s way.

Becoming takes the reader on a very personal journey, a journey of courage and belief, of strength and determination. In Michelle Obama’s own words ‘For better or worse, I’d fallen in love with a man with a vision who was optimistic without being naive, undaunted by conflict, and intrigued by how complicated the world was.’

It is, I believe, a unique and extraordinary experience to get such an incredible first-hand insight into the personal journey of a President and First Lady of the United States of America.

Becoming is an inspirational story of a rather exceptional person. Michelle Obama is a charismatic and unique individual. What she will do next is unclear but she does stress that she will NOT be entering the political arena. She has a very strong desire to help young people, especially the disadvantaged, achieve their dream. She cares…..

‘It’s not about being perfect. It’s not about where you get yourself in the end. There’s power in allowing yourself to be known and heard, in owning your unique story, in using your authentic voice. And there’s a grace in being willing to know and hear others. This for me is how we become.’

(c) Swirl and Thread

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