Michelle Obama’s memoir Becoming was the first book I read this year, and I’m so glad it was because her story is truly uplifting and inspiring. It makes you feel like you can change the world, or even just your situation, for the better. The book is broken up into three parts starting with her humble beginnings in the south side of Chicago. She then takes us on her journey from Harvard Law School to a top Chicago law firm, and her career pivot into the non-profit world. After her courtship with Barack, we’re given a glimpse into their family life and the stresses of his political career and campaigning for the presidency. Once in the White House, you find out how Michelle put her unique touch on the role of First Lady.
I know we’re all supposed to be impressed by her academic accolades and amazing accomplishments while in the White House, but to be honest, the parts of this book I enjoyed most were the moments when she opened up about not having all of the answers. Like when she talks about her relationship with Barack and learning not to resent him for dedicating himself to his political career. Or when she realized practicing law didn’t make her happy and that she had been checking boxes up until that point of her life. The sections on her reinventing and re-imagining her career are some of my favorites.
Reading Becoming felt like talking to a close friend about everything from relationships to careers to parenting – oh yeah and living in the White House! That was my next favorite thing. I loved reading about what it’s like to ride in Air Force One or have secret service agents follow you everywhere, and most importantly, the snack situation in the White House kitchen.
Living in the White House isn’t all perks, though, as Michelle makes abundantly clear. She recounts how every aspect of her life, from the way she dressed to her mannerisms were subject to scrutiny while at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue. How she and Barack couldn’t even go on a date without a fleet of security personnel, causing road closures, traffic, and commentary. That’s another eye-opening aspect of this book. You get to see how she learns to block out the noise and find her focus as First Lady. The story of her rising above her critics while staying true to herself is a common theme throughout the book and one I found to be a great example to learn from.