Becoming

by: Jackie Cotham

Michelle Obama’s “Becoming” shares the life story of the former FLOTUS, giving readers everything they’ve ever wanted to know and more. In her autobiography, she begins with the details of her upbringing as a product Chicago’s less than charming Southside and how it shaped her as an activist, role model and a woman. Albeit slightly dull at first, Mrs. Obama is providing context for the remainder of her story by letting the reader know of her humble beginnings as the daughter of two ordinary working parents and the sister of an outgoing, athletic older brother. She explains how the family didn’t have much but cherished what little they did have and how her parents sacrificed to make sure that their children had the necessities required to live a full and content life. Education was at the forefront of most things and young Michelle welcomed the opportunity to learn and always held a strong desire to excel in school and life, so much so that she avoided what she calls “swerves” at all costs, constantly trying to follow the rules and create her desired outcomes based on plans and rationale. As the story continues, she invites us inside her world as she delves into the personal relationships that begin to force her out of her comfort zone, chiefly, her now husband, and former POTUS, Barack Obama, causing her to “swerve” in ways she never expected. I, like many people had assumed that the Obamas had a picture-perfect life, but I quickly learned that that was not the case. Mrs. Obama shares their life experiences, good and bad, from their courting days to her feelings of being a single parent during the early political years due to their unconventional family dynamic, through their days in the White House, where she admits she sometimes felt like she and her girls were prisoners under constant watch. She tells stories of early mistakes she’d made as First Lady and how she learned from them and even how she struggled to find her own place, avoiding the shadow of her husband. I was truly blown away by not only her candidness, but her ability to humanize the first family, giving the reader the ability to relate to her and her circumstances. In the end, Michelle Obama’s story is inspirational and is definitely worth the read. The fact that a Southside girl from Chicago made it to places she never dreamed possible gives the rest of us hope. Her message is not only that you can become anything, but that Becoming is a perpetual process that only ends when we depart from this Earth. By the end of her story, the reader can walk away with the sense that they, too, can become the best version of themselves with hard work if they are open to change. 

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