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Becoming by Michelle Obama

Becoming (edition 2018)

by Michelle Obama (Author)

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2,1471144,622 (4.51)169
Authors:Michelle Obama (Author)
Info:Crown Publishing Group (2018), Edition: First Edition, 448 pages
Collections:Your library
Tags:nonfiction, autobiography, Michelle Obama, firstlady

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Becoming by Michelle Obama

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    Elizabeth.Macyshyn: First Lady autobiographies are fascinating, after enjoying Becoming, try the one that started the trend.

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Showing 1-5 of 118 (next | show all)
I chose to read ‘Becoming’ because I wanted to pay homage to a person who have stayed sincere, strong, and regal, despite all the criticisms, mud-slinging, and name-calling. Even in this book where she had absolute authority to speak as she pleases, she maintained her composure and was elegant in her words. For that, applause, applause.

Becoming is divided into three sections:
‘Becoming Me’ – Her youth and her upbringing, her parents striving to give her and her brother the education that would propel them out of the Southside Chicago neighborhood
‘Becoming Us’ – The story of Barack and Michelle, her senior at their law firm to his junior, his eventual entry into politics including state senator, ending at his winning the presidential election. This is the biggest portion as she transitions through multiple cycles, when she finds herself “… becoming a different kind of Mrs. – a Mrs. Defined by the Mr.”
‘Becoming More’ – Her role as the First Lady, or FLoTUS, till their departure from the White House.

Throughout the book, I found effecting insights, especially in the section ‘Becoming More’. I’ve included some in the quotes section below. It’s silly to state the obvious, but I’ll say it anyway. This book won’t turn anyone into her fan, if one had been amongst the mud-slingers. It will affirm positive opinions you may have. She reinforces her stance to NOT run for office in the epilogue of the book. After reading this, everyone will understand why.

I listened to the audiobook for 3/4 of it so I can hear her voice and finished the rest via the physical book to see the photos. I’ll probably still listen to the audiobook for the last portion so I can hear her joy in the triumph of her initiatives and her angst in learning of the pussy-grabbing Cheeto video. Sigh.

Some quotes:
It’s not easy to be outside.
“…If anyone in our family wanted to step outside onto the Truman Balcony – the lovely arcing terrace that overlooked the South Lawn, and the only semiprivate outdoor space we had at the White House – we needed to first alert the Secret Service so that they could shut down the section of E Street that was in view of the balcony, clearing out the flocks of tourists who gathered outside the gates there at all hours of the day and night. There were many times when I thought I’d go out to sit on the balcony, but then reconsidered, realizing the hassle I would cause, the vacations I’d be interrupting, all because I thought it would be nice to have a cup of tea outdoors.”

On Leadership:
“Everything was big and everything was relevant. I read a set of news clips sent by my staff each morning and knew that Barack would be obliged to absorb and respond to every new development. He’d be blamed for things he couldn’t control, pushed to solve frightening problems in faraway nations, expected to plug a hole at the bottom of the ocean. His job, it seemed, was to take the chaos and metabolize it somehow into calm leadership – every day of the week, every week of the year.”

On then 8-year old Sasha:
“…Walking around her classroom at Sidwell’s parents’ night that fall, I’d come across a short ‘What I Did on My Summer Vacation’ essay she’d authored, hanging alongside those of her classmates on one of the walls. ‘I went to Rome and I met the Pope,’ Sasha had written. ‘He was missing part of his thumb.’
I could not tell you what Pope Benedict XVI’s thumb looks like, whether some part of it isn’t there. But we’d taken an observant, matter-of-fact eight-year-old to Rome, Moscow, and Accra, and this is what she’d brought back. Her view of history was, at that point, waist-high.”

On teenager Malia:
“In general, I understood that it was better for all of us not to acknowledge the hate or dwell on the risk, even when others felt compelled to bring it up. Malia would eventually join the high school tennis team at Sidwell, which practiced on the school courts on Wisconsin Avenue. She was there one day when a woman, the mother of another student, approached her, gesturing at the busy road running past the courts. ‘Aren’t you afraid out here?’ she asked.
My daughter, as she grew, was learning to use her voice, discovering her own ways to reinforce the boundaries she needed. ‘If you’re asking me whether I ponder my death every day,’ she said to the woman, as politely as she could, ‘the answer is no.’”

On the underlying efforts and that helping hand – I know this too well:
“There had been so many times in my life when I’d found myself the only woman of color – or even the only woman, period – sitting at a conference table or attending a board meeting or mingling at one VIP gathering or another. If I was the first at some of these things, I wanted to make sure that in the end I wasn’t the only – that others were coming up behind me… The important parts of my story, I was realizing, lay less in the surface value of my accomplishments and more in what undergirded them – the many small ways I’d been buttressed over the years, and the people who’d helped build my confidence over time. I remembered them all, every person who’d ever waved me forward, doing his or her best to inoculate me against the slights and indignities I was certain to encounter in the places I was headed – all those environments built primarily for and by people who were neither black nor female.”

On Nelson Mandela:
“Mandela had gone to jail for his principles. He’d missed seeing his kids grow up, and then he’d missed seeing many of his grandkids grow up, too. All this without bitterness. All this still believing that the better nature of his country would at some point prevail. He’d worked and waited, tolerant and undiscouraged, to see it happen.”

On Gun Violence (in Chicago) – disheartening:
“At one point, one of the social workers interjected, saying to the group, ‘Eighty degrees and sunny! Everyone in the circle began nodding, ruefully. I wasn’t sure why. ‘Tell Mrs. Obama,’ she said, ‘What goes through your mind when you wake up in the morning and hear the weather forecast is eighty and sunny?’
She clearly knew the answer, but wanted me to hear it.
A day like that, the Harper students all agreed, was no good. When the weather was nice, the gangs got more active and the shooting got worse.”

On Racial Injustice:
“…For more than six years now, Barack and I had lived with an awareness that we ourselves were a provocation. As minorities across the country were gradually beginning to take on more significant roles in politics, business, and entertainment, our family had become the most prominent example. Our presence in the White House had been celebrated by millions of Americans, but it also contributed to a reactionary sense of fear and resentment among others. The hatred was old and deep and as dangerous as ever.”

On Misogyny and the expression ‘Death by a Thousand Cuts’:
“…I’d been mocked and threatened many times now, cut down for being black, female, and vocal. I’d felt the derision directed at my body, the literal space I occupied in the world. I’d watched Donald Trump stalk Hillary Clinton during a debate, following her around as she spoke, standing too close, trying to diminish her presence with his. I can hurt you and get away with it. Women endure entire lifetimes of these indignities – in the form of catcalls, groping, assault, oppression. These things injure us. They sap our strength. Some of the cuts are so small they’re barely visible. Others are huge and gaping, leaving scars that never heal. Either way, they accumulate. We carry them everywhere, to and from school and work, at home while raising our children, at our places of worship, anytime we try to advance.”

On ‘Becoming’:
“For me, becoming isn’t about arriving somewhere or achieving a certain aim. I see it instead as forward motion, a means of evolving, a way to reach continuously toward a better self. The journey doesn’t end. I became a mother, but I still have a lot to learn from and give to my children. I became a wife, but I continue to adapt to and be humbled by what it means to truly love and make a life with another person. I have become, by certain measures, a person of power, and yet there are moments still when I feel insure or unheard.
It's all a process, steps along a path. Becoming requires equal parts patience and rigor. Becoming is never giving up on the idea that there’s more growing to be done.” ( )
1 vote varwenea | Jul 18, 2019 |
What can I say that everyone else hasn't said? I loved this book and my respect for Michelle Obama has grown even more. Also, you can't go wrong with any format, but I personally LOVED listening to Michelle Obama's voice tell her story. ( )
  rkcraig88 | Jul 15, 2019 |
Reading this book felt like a conversation with a good friend. Michelle writes honestly about her experiences growing up in Southside Chicago, life at Princeton and Harvard Law, and her time as First Lady, all as an African-American woman. Her insights speak volumes as to the diversity of experiences and are a testimony to resilience for us all. ( )
  Oregonpoet | Jul 12, 2019 |
Hard to believe we had such a classy, intelligent, kind, courageous first family in the White House only a few years ago. This book reminded me of all we've lost since they left. As Michelle Obama says, "Being president doesn't change who you are; it reveals who you are." I miss them. On a lighter note, I really enjoyed learning about her youth and her early relationship years with Barack. Well-written, informative, and a must-read. ( )
  DonnaMarieMerritt | Jul 12, 2019 |
Yes, I believe that Michelle and I could have been best friends. Hearing her stories, hearing her voice, I could completely relate and understand the woman she is. Her struggles and and successes are shared in a way that lets the reader inside Michelle's head. Her no-nonsense approach to life is refreshing. I can't help but to love her even more after hearing her story. The audio is 19 hours and every moment is fascinating. ( )
  Beth.Clarke | Jun 28, 2019 |
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Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Michelle Obamaprimary authorall editionscalculated
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)
I spent much of my childhood listening to the sound of striving.
Barack and I walked out of the White House for the last time on January 20, 2017, accompanying Donald and Melania Trump to the inauguration ceremony. (Epilogue)
Grief and resilience live together.
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In a life filled with meaning and accomplishment, Michelle Obama has emerged as one of the most iconic and compelling women of our era. As First Lady of the United States of America, she helped create the most welcoming and inclusive White House in history. With unerring honesty and lively wit, she describes her triumphs and her disappointments, both public and private. A deeply personal reckoning of a woman of soul and substance who has steadily defied expectations.… (more)

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