BOOK REVIEW: Becoming by Michelle Obama

I want to start raving about this book right off the bat.  However, I have a weird formula for my reviews that I’d like to stick with for now. 

Just know that, while I’m writing this, I’m vibrating with excitement.

One of my dearest friends from high school got two copies of Becoming for Hanukkah in 2018 and generously offered me her duplicate.  I really wanted to read this book because Michelle Obama strikes me as both a private and truly genuine person.

So, I thought this book was easily the best present of the season.  After reading it, I can say I’m sure it was the highlight of the holidays.

Obama does not disappoint.  But, as always, first –


NON-FICTION SPOILERS BELOW.  YOU COULD SPOIL THIS BOOK USING GOOGLE. 


Becoming is broken up into three sections: “Me,” “Us,” and “More.”  Obama discusses growing up on the South Side of Chicago, starting and growing her family, and the craziness of life in politics.  It flowed so well that it could have done without the segmentation.  But, they’re the significant chapters in her life – the good and the bad in them made her the woman she is today.

Michelle Obama grew up with a mother dedicated to education and a disabled father who took the time to relate with all people he met.  Her parents made sacrifices to ensure she and her older brother Craig had the best education. 

Obama talks about a time when her mother stood up for her and removed her from an ineffective grade school.  She also laments the numerous students who didn’t have such an advocate.  It speaks to the lifelong support she received from her family and how she sees where she was more fortunate than others around her.

She also talks about some of her “less savory” past.  But, I feel she glosses over this in a very “political” way – a brief mention of “fooling around” and smoking pot.  She also mentions a boyfriend who was “more adult” than others, but she never mentions the “others,” nor how he was “more adult.”  Essentially, her dating history is left blank.

I understand that it didn’t have a significant impact on her life.  Still, it felt like she wasn’t being entirely open.  She wanted to show that she wasn’t perfect, which I appreciated.  But… come on.  I’m pretty sure there’s a lot she left out.

Still, in Michelle Obama’s family, education comes first.  So, she dropped the boyfriends and went off to Princeton.  She talks candidly about her place as a minority and finding a sense of “home” at college where she could.  She doesn’t flinch when talking about the racial discomfort, and it was powerful.

What she doesn’t discuss is the fact that, during her education there, the Princeton support building for students of color was called the “Third World Center.”  This… made me stop and write down some four-letter words.  Here’s hoping the name has changed since the 1980s.

Onto her meeting Barack Obama!  I have to say – she doesn’t sound like she really cared for him at first.  She peppers their first encounters with praise, but pushes his romantic interests to her friends.  But, when he asks for permission for a kiss… even I had to melt.

Hey, I think consent is hot.

She brings a real human element to the political machine, too.  She describes the racist responses to Barack’s campaign.  Then, counters the venom with stories about her talks with prospective voters.  They’re warm, intimate (at first), and productive.

She also talks about the White House staff once they move in.  Most of them were African-Americans, devoted, and older than the Obamas.  Their pride in helping the first black First Family is matched by the Obamas attempt to bring them into that family. 

One of the pictures she shared shows the couple bringing a birthday cake to a porter, celebrating his service in person.

Unfortunately, the racism towards the family follows to the White House.  Obama describes an incident where a shooter broke a window in the residence.  A window at which she would often sit.  The description of the bullet-resistant glass, punctured but still in place until it can be repaired, is chilling.

I think the hardest part was the last section.  I read Becoming after Trump’s election and partway through his presidency.  Obama talked about their attempt to bring African-American influences into the White House to show future generations they were represented.  Knowing that the Trumps would undo so much made my heart hurt.

She doesn’t pull her punches.  She refuses to forgive Donald Trump for endangering her children’s lives with his racist rhetoric. 

Still, she passes the torch with dignity.  And calls on readers to let go of fear.  To combat hate with love.  And to continue striving to be their best selves, every day.


Final Score:

4.5 out of 5 stars!  This book, for me, is close to a 5 star read.  The unfortunate election of Donald Trump after America’s very first African-American president just left me disappointed in the end.  For that reason, which is no fault of the author, I had to take off a half of a star. 

Perhaps that’s a mistake.  But the epilogue was hard to swallow.  I do hope that Michelle Obama’s message of staying above the muck lasts – especially now!

Becoming has so many fantastic quotations, I’m going to make a separate post with them. 

Coming soon – words of wisdom!

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15 thoughts on “BOOK REVIEW: Becoming by Michelle Obama

    • To me she seemed like a strong, smart, well-spoken, and wicked tough person.

      Unfortunately, having had a lot of experience in the world, I can’t agree that this is “normal.” Too often, it seems far from it.

      But, yeah. She is so impressive… yet really genuine. ❤

      Liked by 1 person

  1. I got the book when it came out, but haven’t had a chance to read it yet (gonna be something to look forward to after the election). I also got the Becoming journal, which I haven’t filled out yet. Wanted to read the book first, and I have a ton of journals as it is (hee hee).

    Hadn’t heard of anybody reading it yet. Now I know I’ll enjoy it (though I suspected I would, anyway).

    Liked by 1 person

    • I’ve heard a lot of people saying they want to read it. I highly recommend!

      I hadn’t heard of a “Becoming journal.” I must look into this.

      I hope you’re doing as well as can be expected during this hellish year. ❤

      Liked by 1 person

      • I saw it in the new releases section next to the Obama books (they had a display). I snatched it up right away. It’s one of those journals with prompts and “list things your grateful for” things like that. I figured that would entice me to read the book a little sooner. Sadly, I’m reading on the Dumpster fire that is the Dump administration right now. Almost done with “A Very Stable Genius” (spoilers: he’s most definitely not), and moving on to “Rage” by mid-week.

        I’ll have my own case of Rage going by the time i get through that one. Glad I’m getting my kicking and punching bags set up in the gym. I’ll be using ’em big time.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Oh man… I want to go use the heavy bag at my gym, but I’m also afraid of … y’know… going to the gym.

        Right now, I’m actually reading “Bush Dyslexicon” (I’m waay behind on my political reading, obviously). What’s scary is that it shows the slippery slope created by W.

        Maybe you should stick “Becoming” in between some of those books? It really is uplifting, even if the ending is so tragic.

        I absolutely looked up the journal after I read your comment and added it to my Amazon Wishlist. 🙂

        Like

      • I got a portable building for my dad’s “older than I am” weight lifting equipment so I can have actual space to work out. I’ve got a lot to put up properly and such, but because I miss MMA (but can’t afford it and yeah, covid) I got a kick bag and one of those speed bags you mount to the wall with a suspended platform. Because of my anemia, I’ve gotta take it slow (and I gotta organize things) so I’m just on the elliptical right now. But as my blood levels and oxygen improve, I’ll be using more of it all (and have it ready to go, too–hee hee).

        Liked by 1 person

      • Argh. I am a bit jealous of your old-school workout building. Also of the equipment. I soooo want to hit something right now. Or scream endlessly. LOL

        I really do need to do some sort of exercise. I do at least 10,000 steps a day, but I haven’t REALLY worked out.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Anemia’s made it tough to get started. The only bad thing about old (though VERY well made equipment is it takes up so much room because it’s not an “all in one” machine. I hate machines that require me to get a personal trainer to help me out or would have a manual as thick as a car manual to operate. Just needs some TLC because of all the dust from storage and WD-40 for the clamps that are stuck or rusted over.

        Liked by 1 person

  2. Pingback: I Couldn’t Have Said It Better Myself! – Becoming by Michelle Obama – Writing Radiation

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