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April 2019: History > "Becoming" by Michelle Obama, 4 Stars

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message 1: by Holly R W (new)

Holly R W | 1257 comments "Becoming" is Michelle Obama's own sharing of her life with us. What comes through is a very thoughtful and bright woman who has led an extraordinary life. She was graced to have parents who loved her and who gave her a stable, loving home. They lived a very middle class life style in the south side of Chicago. Michelle writes of her mother, "Everything about her radiated competence and calm... Just seeing her gave me comfort." Her father was a very hard worker who always looked at things positively. He fought M.S. for years, trying to live as normally as possible. Michelle is also close with her brother.

Barack Obama has joked with Michelle that he married into the black Cleaver family. His own family experiences were quite different. It was his grandparents who raised him and gave him stability. His mother was a free spirit who lived far away and saw Barack on visits.

Descriptions of Michelle's and Barack's similarities and differences intrigued me. She is very outgoing - He needs more alone time. He, of course, is very political - She dislikes politics. He is chronically late - She is punctual. Still, their marriage appears strong and based on shared values, experiences and outlook.

I enjoyed learning more about their White House years and what living in the White House was like for Michelle and her girls. One telling story was about how hard it was to just leave the White House on the night that it was lit up with the rainbow colors signifying gay pride. The marriage act had just been passed. Michelle and her daughter wanted to see the White House all lit up, but first they had to evade their own security. It took some doing.

Interspersed throughout the book, are Michelle's thoughts and responses to the historical events that she was experiencing. We as readers learn about white flight from the south side of Chicago, Michelle's efforts to make health care accessible for minorities, and Barack's earlier attempts to register voters. We experience what campaigning was like and relive some national events during Barack's presidency, such as the massive financial collapse and the horrifying series of mass shootings. We learn about Michelle's own initiatives as First Lady - focusing upon children, nutrition and veterans. Who can forget her vegetable garden on the White House's grounds?

Michelle proved to be a very relatable and down to earth First Lady. She continues to be an inspiration to so many of us.


message 2: by Amy (new)

Amy | 8519 comments I loved your review! And I loved the book, finished it in March. I actually read your review on the general feed this morning. I thought you expressed beautifully how well this book transmitted her values and story and how that has shaped her and now us.


message 3: by Holly R W (new)

Holly R W | 1257 comments Thank you so much, Amy, for commenting. Your words mean a lot to me... I had not originally intended to read this book for the history tag, but the library had it waiting for me. When I picked it up, I thought that Michelle Obama is a historical figure in our country now. She is our first African American First Lady and was privy to so much of the historical events that happened while her husband was president. She has had a huge impact and is a role model for so many people, especially African American women. The hospital where I work sells purses that have her picture on them (in the gift shop). They are a very popular item.


message 4: by [deleted user] (new)

Wonderful review! This will easily be one of my all-time favorite memoirs.


message 5: by NancyJ (new)

NancyJ (nancyjjj) | 5222 comments Great review! I loved the story about how hard it was for them to get outside to see the lights on the White House. She knew that special moments like that create great memories for kids.

The sections on the school shootings and other violence were very moving. I found it heart breaking when she talked about the violence as part of a backlash.


message 6: by Holly R W (new)

Holly R W | 1257 comments Rachel wrote: "Wonderful review! This will easily be one of my all-time favorite memoirs."

Thank you, Rachel. I'm glad you enjoyed the book too!


message 7: by Holly R W (last edited Apr 09, 2019 10:15AM) (new)

Holly R W | 1257 comments NancyJ wrote: "Great review! I loved the story about how hard it was for them to get outside to see the lights on the White House. She knew that special moments like that create great memories for kids.

The sec..."


Thank you, Nancy. Michelle had a front row seat to history, no doubt. I was moved too, in reading her account.


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