Opening sentence: “When I was a kid, my aspirations were simple.”
What a fantastic glimpse into an incredible life this was. Becoming is Michelle Obama’s autobiography, told chronologically from her childhood through to her years as First Lady of the United States of America: 2009 – 2017. As Michelle puts it: “I’m an ordinary person, who found herself on an extraordinary journey.” I listened to this on audiobook, narrated by Michelle herself. This added such a warm, personal element to an already engaging story, you won’t be surprised to hear that she reads with passion and honesty, her personality just shines through so it’s like hearing a friend chat to you.
I realised I didn’t know much about Michelle’s history before listening to this, in a nutshell: She grew up in Chicago with her mum, dad and older brother, trained as a lawyer, met Barack when he came to train at her law firm, married him in 1992 and had two daughters. Barack’s foray into politics happened naturally and she didn’t foresee him ever being President. Becoming is packed with so many wonderful and moving anecdotes, from revealing just how hard it is to do normal things like go on a date with your husband when he is the President, to swapping stories about sore feet with Queen Elizabeth II and her pride in cultivating and expanding the White House vegetable garden (if, like me, on hearing that, you were worried that it might not be there anymore, fear not, it is!) She also shares her thoughts on living in the White House (“it’s a bit like what I imagine living in a fancy hotel might be like,”), reveals her palpable (and wholly relatable) distress when Trump was voted in as President and even brought me to tears with her account of the terrible Sandy Hook shooting, saying it was the one time Barack requested her presence, to process what had happened on a purely human level, whatever the politics.
The First Lady is an unofficial role, but Michelle used her position to launch initiatives and try to make a positive impact with the media attention she got. Although, the amount of hoops she had to jump through in order to not piss off big companies who basically make money from unhealthy children just to launch ‘Let’s Move‘ an initiative to cut childhood obesity was nuts. She also gave brilliant speeches, including this one supporting Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign that launched her now iconic tagline, ‘There was a motto Barack and I tried to live by, and I offered it that night from the stage: When they go low, we go high.”
I felt nostalgic listening to Michelle recount her and Barack’s time in the White House. It may have only been two years ago, but it feels like she’s talking about a different time, when America had a first couple who stood for something, actually cared and wanted to make a positive difference. Eloquent, dynamic and inspiring, I am now more convinced than ever that Michelle Obama would be a FANTASTIC president in her own right and should run for the presidency immediately. Oh, what’s that Michelle? ‘Because people often ask, I’ll say it here directly: I have no intention of running for office. Ever. I’ve never been a fan of politics and my experience over the last 10 years have done little to change that.” Oh, OK then… she’s still got my vote though. In contrast to say, Lily Allen’s memoir, Becoming isn’t a gossip-lovers, big scandal reveal read; it is a true account of Michelle’s life. She is honest, hard-working, ambitious and her sense of wanting to use her position to give back and help people is truly inspiring.
/ Published in 2018 by Viking
/ Book: 421 pages. Audiobook: 19 hours 3 mins
/ Audiobook narrated by Michelle Obama.
/ Rating: 5/5