Book Review

Book Review : Becoming – Michelle Obama


For me, becoming isn’t about arriving somewhere or achieving a certain aim. I see it instead as a forwards motion, a means of evolving, a way to reach continuously toward a better self.

– Michelle Obama

I’m sure by now, there’s not a single person who doesn’t know about Michelle Obama. The former First Lady of the United States, who played a big role in advocating public health and education. Making her an important role model to many people around the world.

So it’s not a surprise when her autobiography was released last year, people were so eager to buy it. And I was lucky enough to be able to buy it a few months ago. But because of my packed schedule this past week, I’ve just finished reading it two days ago and thought that I would like to share what I think of this book.

Just like everyone said, this book is about Michelle Obama’s life journey in becoming who she is right now. What I love is that the story is wrapped up with this storytelling-like language. So rather than feeling like reading a mere biography of a successful person, reading this book gives a vibe of a wise mentor, talking about life and sharing what she has learned from it.

Becoming is truly a raw memoir of Michelle Obama. The book itself is neatly divided into three sections. The first section– Becoming Me, tells the story of Obama’s childhood, living at the South Side of Chicago, in a small apartment with her parents and Craig– her brother and how wholesome her life was at that moment. Obama describes her parents’ routine to talk to her and Craig as if they were adults. Respecting every question they asked and expand it into an hour long discussion. Then growing up to teenage years, when their parents gave them the privilege to choose their own decision and be responsible with it.

Every move she made, I realize now, was buttressed by the quiet confidence that shed raised us to be adults. Our decisions were on us. It was our life, not hers, and always would be.

(page 47)

The second section– Becoming Us, tells the reader about the start of Obama’s career at a law firm, how she met Barack Obama and the way their relationship developed from there. For me, this is the most emotional part of the book. Since it portrays the most heartbreaking memories, as well as the most beautiful and simple memories of her. She tells about her college best friend, who fought from the aggressive cancer in her body. Then there’s her dad, who struggle from Multiple Sclerosis for years. But then there are also the happier things like Craig’s marriage, which soon followed by hers.

And the last section– Becoming More, is about Obama’s political life and what she learned from being a First Lady. She learned overtime that she resist to become the stereotypical First Lady, which she described as the ‘immaculately groomed doll-wife with paint-on smile, gazing bright-eyed at her husband, as if hanging  on every word’ (page 231). Instead, she uses her role as a First Lady to make movements and campaigns in the USA, and use her voice to speak the unspoken.

I was determined to be someone who told the truth, using my voice to lift up the voiceless when I could, and not disappear on people in need.

(page 382)

One thing that I can also point out from Becoming is the way Obama always take time to give credit towards all of the women that has helped her throughout her childhood, college life, career, and much more. She always emphasize how every person and every little experiences are matter to make her become who she is right now. And this is the message she always repeat in her First Lady speech, and many conversations she had. That everyone belong somewhere and what they say, what they do, how they act always matter to somebody.

Furthermore, I really recommend the book ‘Becoming’ for those of you who want to know more about the struggle as well as the ups and downs of Michelle Obama’s life. And rather indulging us with thinking of who do we really want to become?

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