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Becoming by Michelle Obama


by Michelle Obama

Other authors: See the other authors section.

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
2,8711663,173 (4.47)236
"An intimate, powerful, and inspiring memoir by the former First Lady of the United States. When she was a little girl, Michelle Robinson's world was the South Side of Chicago, where she and her brother, Craig, shared a bedroom in their family's upstairs apartment and played catch in the park, and where her parents, Fraser and Marian Robinson, raised her to be outspoken and unafraid. But life soon took her much further afield, from the halls of Princeton, where she learned for the first time what if felt like to be the only black woman in a room, to the glassy office tower where she worked as a high-powered corporate lawyer--and where, one summer morning, a law student named Barack Obama appeared in her office and upended all her carefully made plans. Here, for the first time, Michelle Obama describes the early years of her marriage as she struggles to balance her work and family with her husband's fast-moving political career. She takes us inside their private debate over whether he should make a run for the presidency and her subsequent role as a popular but oft-criticized figure during his campaign. Narrating with grace, good humor, and uncommon candor, she provides a vivid, behind-the-scenes account of her family's history-making launch into the global limelight as well as their life inside the White House over eight momentous years--as she comes to know her country and her country comes to know her. [This book] takes us through modest Iowa kitchens and ballrooms at Buckingham Palace, through moments of heart-stopping grief and profound resilience, bringing us deep into the soul of a singular, groundbreaking figure in history as she strives to live authentically, marshaling her personal strength and voice in service of a set of higher ideals. In telling her story with honesty and boldness, she issues a challenge to the rest of us: Who are we and who do we want to become?"--Jacket.… (more)
  1. 10
    Barack and Michelle: Portrait of an American Marriage by Christopher Andersen (Cammie.m)
    Cammie.m: This book gives an insight to the Obama’s life, love, marriage, and parenthood. It also discusses the trials and tribulations of being the President of the a United States of America. This book is a wonderful read!
  2. 00
    I Am Malala: The Girl Who Stood Up for Education and Was Shot by the Taliban by Malala Yousafzai (lottpoet)
    lottpoet: similar sense of doing what needs doing, of her deeds being, not extraordinary, but a part of ordinary humanness
  3. 11
    A White House diary by Lady Bird Johnson (Elizabeth.Macyshyn)
    Elizabeth.Macyshyn: First Lady autobiographies are fascinating, after enjoying Becoming, try the one that started the trend.
  4. 22
    Dreams from My Father: A Story of Race and Inheritance by Barack Obama (TheLittlePhrase)
  5. 01
    Lean In: Women, Work, and the Will to Lead by Sheryl Sandberg (JuliaMaria)

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» See also 236 mentions

English (159)  Dutch (1)  Spanish (1)  French (1)  Finnish (1)  Italian (1)  German (1)  All languages (165)
Showing 1-5 of 159 (next | show all)
I am of Two Minds on this book.

The First Mind: I'm glad to know more of Michelle Obama's story. I have admired her for what I did know about her as the public eye turned to her attention. She is a strong, smart woman that deeply cares about her family and, of course, making sure people are active and healthy. I admired her beauty, her not-suffering fools, her poise, and just everything that I knew about her threw cultural osmosis. She seems more fun and more relaxed through Obama's Presidential years.

So this mind appreciates everything she had to achieve from her younger years through her meeting Barack Obama. I enjoyed reading about her family growing up and her high school years (and being told she wasn't Princeton material). I enjoyed her thoughts on meeting Barack for the first time and how they came to know and love each other over the years. And I was appreciative of everything she had to sacrifice in her own career to support Barack as he became a politician.

The Second Mind: I wanted a deeper dive. I wanted more Michelle. Becoming is written with deference to others. Her family dominates her early years (which makes sense), her friends and mentors dominate her college years (fine), but then Barack dominates her adult life. I really yearned for a deeper dive into Michelle's professional career starting out at the Chicago law firm to working in city hall through her work with health foundation and University of Chicago outreach. I really wanted more there. It was nice learning about Barack's various campaigns and the harsh reality of being, essentially, a single mom part-time; but I wanted Michelle's story to be more about Michelle. Maybe that book will come later.

As it stands this is a strong autobiography. And I now know much more about the woman that is Michelle Obama and I continue to admire and appreciate her for who she is, who she became, and who she is becoming. ( )
  thecolorblack | Jan 21, 2020 |
First let me say this is not a review about Michelle Obama as a person, if it were, I would give her 6 stars! I think she is smart, thoughtful, caring, humble and hardworking, but alas this is a book review and I honestly wanted to give it 3.5 stars but rounded up to 4. Ms. Obama is a very good writer, so why did the publisher not find an equally good editor? This book should have been 320 pages not 420 pages. She spent way too much time on her years as a boring corporate lawyer and her angst about her career choices (private sector where all the money was, or public/non-profit world where all of the personal fulfillment was but no money). And did we really need to hear about every time she or kids had Chipotle or McDonalds (I think this was added to help portray her as a “real person”)? There were literally times when my eyes glazed over and my mind wandered.

I should also note that I listened to this on audio. She has a soothing voice and it gives the listener more of a personal sense of her, like she is personally telling you her story. The downside is she is not a professional reader or actress so sometimes her sentences are stilted and her inflections are not right. The other downside is she speaks fairly slowly, the audio book is 19 hours long. About halfway through I put it on 1.25 speed, and three quarters through I put it on 1.50 speed.

This is a very safe, guarded political memoir. I can’t blame her for writing such a memoir, as she has obviously learned her lessons well from being in the public eye for more than eight years and having everything she says and does be parsed, critiqued and weaponized by her critics. But when you write such a safe memoir you lose some of your credibility. She only writes positive glowing things about everyone in her life. From her family and friends, to anyone she has ever worked with or for, her staffers, babysitters, bodyguards, well you name it, they are all smart, hardworking, dedicated, and supportive. While she tries to humanize Barack by telling us he is messy and needs time to himself, it just made me think she is trying to answer the job interview question, “What is your biggest weakness or fault?” Answer: “Well, I’m a workaholic.” She does not say anything negative about Hilary Clinton, Joe Biden, the Bushes (all one-time political rivals), and doesn’t even say much that is truly negative about Trump (she says she won’t forgive him for putting her family in danger with his Birther rhetoric, and that she couldn’t believe such a vulgar man who had no regard for women, and no interest in policy was voted in as President). Maybe the book should have been titled, “Becoming a Saint.” That’s not to say that she takes everything lying down, she does defend herself and her husband about specific stories that were published negatively about them, and is able to finally tell her side of the story.

I felt she was genuine and honest about her father’s battle with MS and just wished that more of that candidness was reflected in the rest of the book. She does tell some interesting and heartfelt stories about meeting the Queen, going to the Girls School in in England, meeting with soldiers and their families at Walter Reed, and speaking at the funeral of a young Chicago girl’s funeral who was the innocent victim of gun violence. But of course everything is couched in a way that nothing can be criticized and the Obamas and their administration only did the right things for the right reasons (well, I would say not prosecuting anyone in the financial crisis was not the right thing, and unfettered drone strikes was not the right thing—oh that’s right she doesn’t mention any of that..).

This book is both inspirational and aspirational for girls and young women, especially girls of color. It shows them how a black girl from the South Side of Chicago became a success and was the epitome of grace under pressure. I think the book should have been marketed that way-A Guide for Young Women on Becoming a Success, While Still Making a Difference.

For those of us older than 40 I would say if you are looking for a truly open and honest memoir about Michelle Obama you might have to wait until she doesn’t care what the critics say, doesn’t care about political bridge burning, and isn’t focused on convincing us that the Obama Administration did everything right, but for now the Obamas are still very much in the political arena with lots of power and influence, so THAT book will not get written for a very long time, if ever.

The irony that this is a long review is not lost on me. But unlike Ms. Obama I cannot afford to hire a good editor.

( )
  tshrope | Jan 13, 2020 |
Becoming by Michelle Obama is a empowering autobiography that details how she became who she is today. I gave this book all five stars because she really told her story. Some parts were relatable, other parts that I couldn't relate to I understood because of the way they were described. I learned so much about Michelle Robinson Obama. I could imagine what her life was like when she was ten living in a crowded apartment, to when she was First Lady of the United States living in the White House. ( )
  KBender.ELA4 | Jan 13, 2020 |
while I enjoyed many aspects of this book, it was a bit too self-serving and reminded me why I generally don't read autobiographies. ( )
  rosies | Jan 12, 2020 |
What a way to start the decade! I loved this book, so skillfully written and artfully narrated. Even before I read this book, I had the utmost respect for the Obamas, but this book really taught me so much about Michelle’s humble beginnings. And although it is really Michelle Obama’s story, it also highlights the incredible obstacles that people of color and born in poverty endure. I never knew that Michelle Obama was the first in her family to go to college. In many ways her transformation from a poor girl growing up in Chicago’s South Side to an amazing career as lawyer, community organizer and First Lady, really is an example of our idealized American Dream.

I just loved everything about this book, finding it a true inspiration. Can’t recommend it to enough people! ( )
  jmoncton | Jan 11, 2020 |
Showing 1-5 of 159 (next | show all)
The summary of Obama’s White House initiatives relies on promotional language and well-worn anecdotes, and the book’s final pages are just a shade away from an overt advertisement for the Obama Foundation. The memoir’s “bombshell” revelations, which the media has projected as revelations of the female condition writ large—a discussion of Obama’s use of fertility treatment to conceive her daughters, and of a period of her marriage in which “frustrations began to rear up often and intensely”—belie how much the rest of the text withholds.
I suspect that some of Becoming’s power lies in the ways it employs the techniques of a novel more than those of a typical political memoir—in its honesty about human nature and ambivalence, yes, but also in its colorful and idiosyncratic details ... in its willingness to let anecdotes speak for themselves rather than pedantically spelling out their lessons.
Becoming is frequently funny, sometimes indignant or enraged, and when Michelle describes her father’s early death from multiple sclerosis it turns rawly emotional.
added by g33kgrrl | editThe Guardian, Peter Conrad (Nov 18, 2018)
But despite how close we get to her voice here, it’s never quite close enough. She lets us into all kinds of memories, including tender recollections, romantic dates, and triumphant moments on the campaign trail. But for all her candidness, there is still a veil of privacy around the inner workings of this reluctant public figure. She draws the reader in, but pauses at arm’s length. Maybe this is all we can expect, in text, from this woman with so much presence. As she says herself, she’s more of a hugger.
added by g33kgrrl | editVanity Fair, Sonia Saraiya (Nov 15, 2018)
Even if Becoming is not always interesting, it is much more interesting than it needed to be to qualify as a successful first lady memoir. And as an example of how to walk the tightrope — how to seem charming but not like an intellectual lightweight; how to get things done without seeming threatening; how to do all of the impossible things we demand of women in general, of first ladies in particular, and of the first black first lady as an absolute — Becoming is a straight-up master class.
added by g33kgrrl | editVox, Constance Grady (Nov 13, 2018)

» Add other authors

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Obama, Michelleprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Rekiaro, IlkkaTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Svensson, ManneTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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To all the people who have helped me become:

the folks who raised me---Fraser, Marian, Craig,
and my vast extended family,

my circle of strong women, who always lift me up,

my loyal and dedicated staff, who continue to make me proud.
To the loves of my life:

Malia and Sasha, my two most precious peas,
who are my reason for being,

and finally, Barack, who always promised me an interesting journey.
First words
When I was a kid, my aspirations were simple. (Preface)
Grief and resilience live together.
I spent much of my childhood listening to the sound of striving.
Last words
(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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