How does a lowly little blogger like me properly do justice to a lady like Michelle Obama? Santa brought me a hardcover copy of her memoir “Becoming” and although it was a hefty read, it was worth it. Like Tara Westover (author of Educated) and J.D. Vance (author of Hillbilly Elegy), Michelle Robinson Obama is a product of humble beginnings and hard work, always a fascinating subject for me. While she didn’t endure the same challenges as Westover or Vance, she faced the constant underlying obstacle of being born black in a country that is still racist. Her advantage is that she came from a strong family unit that stayed together, worked hard and valued education. These intrinsic strengths enabled her to perform at and above expectations. She’s strongly proud of her roots in Chicago’s south side and credits this background with motivating her.
From an early age Michelle Robinson understood that education and achievement were fundamental to advancing in life. Born with sharp intellect and into a supportive family, she excelled at school to the extent that when she graduated high school, she was accepted into elite Princeton University. Lacking specific goals beyond proving herself good enough and smart enough, she defaulted to studying law. But her career choice proved to be unsatisfying and contrary to her values. The singular outstanding achievement during her time working at a prestigious Chicago law firm was meeting an unusual young law student who worked temporarily for the same firm. His name was Barack Obama.
While Michelle came from a Leave It To Beaver close-knit family, Barack’s family was fragmented and scattered around the world. Blending their different backgrounds took some adjustment. Their early years included marriage counselling, fertility treatments and financial hardship, not uncommon challenges for young couples starting out.
Michelle Obama outlines the experiences they both underwent beginning with their early community service work to ultimately becoming the most powerful couple in the world. She describes each stage of the progression in detail and without restraint. The last half of the book is the most interesting as it covers their political life but reading the story of how they came to be in that position at that particular time is informative and relevant. Any book by a former First Lady is bound to be a best-seller but this one is particularly deserving, written by an exceptionally intelligent, articulate, reflective woman. Do yourself a favour and read it.
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