Becoming by Michelle Obama

I’ve been binge-reading lately, finishing one book and immediately starting another, but a little while ago in the midst of a reading slump, I decided to try listening to the audiobook of Michelle Obama’s autobiography, Becoming. I found it really easy to dip in an out of while washing the dishes or cooking dinner, and giving it my full attention at other times. At 19 hours in length it did feel like quite a commitment, but I found it so easy to listen to Michelle Obama narrating her story, from her wry comments (usually poking fun at herself or Barack) to the way her voice cracks slightly when describing her father’s death.

Unsurprisingly, Michelle manages to combine the personal and political describing the discrimination and racism that limited the educational, housing and employment opportunities of her parents, aunts, uncles and grandparents that were mirrored for black people all across the United States. Although there’s no doubt that her own determination, courage and work ethic helped her rise above her humble beginnings, she’s keen to acknowledge and full of gratitude for her parents, teachers and friends who supported and enouraged her every step of the way. Becoming is highly informative, inspiring and relatable and there’s so many themes running through this memoir about race, sexism, disability, poverty and social class but also about family, community, hard-work, determination and ambition.

Michelle’s story covers everything from her childhood in South Chicago in the 1960s, through her awkward adolescent years, her first romances, studying at Princeton University, her career choices, meeting and falling in love with Barack Obama, their struggles with infertility, motherhood, and entering the maelstrom of public scrutiny as he campaigned for and won the Presidency. I really appreaciated how open and honest she is about the resentment she felt about when Barack’s political aspirations interfered with their family’s life, and the compromises they made to find a balance for their family as well as the huge adjustment to life under the spotlight, it’s a fascinating glimpse behind the scenes into their marriage, family life and the inner workings of the White House.

Becoming is an informative and inspiring autobiography, full of humility, humour, vulnerability and candour, and I’d thoroughly recommend the audiobook. Have a lovely weekend. X

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