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Becoming

by Michelle Obama

Other authors: See the other authors section.

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
3,6192012,419 (4.46)263
"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. 20
    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. 21
    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.
  3. 10
    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
  4. 11
    Lean In: Women, Work, and the Will to Lead by Sheryl Sandberg (JuliaMaria)
  5. 22
    Dreams from My Father: A Story of Race and Inheritance by Barack Obama (TheLittlePhrase)
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» See also 263 mentions

English (192)  German (2)  Dutch (1)  Spanish (1)  Finnish (1)  Italian (1)  French (1)  All languages (199)
Showing 1-5 of 192 (next | show all)
Highly recommend. As many have noted, Michelle Obama's candor is on full display here. The "job" of political spouse can be exhilarating, but it's also exhausting, irritating, infuriating, and even personally damaging. I was especially moved by the moments when Obama really had to struggle with how to connect the political world with the lives of her daughters. There was one moment when she talked about how she and her husband made the girls the focus of a media piece, and how horrified she was to realize that they had just fed them "into the maw of the voracious media engine (this is the single positive decision I credit Melania Trump with, keeping her son completely out of the spotlight -- the rest of her insulting, birther, racist, enabling garbage I abhor). I so want her to run in 2020, yet after finishing the book, I realized that possibility is vanishingly small. It takes a very peculiar kind of person to reach for that post and she is much too grounded and sane, I think. Her husband does come off as less than saintly, refreshing. I especially liked how she described his slovenly ways and habit of creating a messy "Hole" to nest in wherever they go (I'm kind of that way, too, so appreciated news of a fellow traveler). ( )
  MaximusStripus | Jul 7, 2020 |
This book absolutely humanized the Obamas and show me how much they care about others. I don't like politics (I would go as far as to say I despise it) so I was happy that the book places more of a focus on Michelle's roots and how she found her voice and how we can be better people. My favorite section of the book was by far, Becoming Us, in which Michelle describes meeting Barack and how their relationship evolved over time. ( )
  jonathanpapz | Jul 2, 2020 |
I apologize in advance if this seems a little incoherent. What a great memoir!

Michelle Obama hits everything that I love in memoirs. She goes into her childhood, her family, how her parents and family shaped her. And then you get to read about how certain incidents throughout her life defined her. I laughed, cried, grieved, and got angry reading about all of the highs and lows in her life. And I ended up smiling when we get to the epilogue and know that she and Barack are going to be okay. That dealing with the GOP who obstructed Obama at every turn, the racist memes, the hatred, all of that didn't break them. They came out stronger in the end.

I know that it's become a sort of joke that everyone misses the Obamas, but seriously, I miss them. I just miss that we had a kind and thoughtful POTUS and FLOTUS who really wanted to do right by us, but also realized as the first African American First Family, they were going to be held up to a ridiculous standard and not falter.

I know that Michelle Obama grew up in Chicago, but reading this book and smiling along as I realized that we had a similar childhood even though I grew up in PA makes me tickled. I lived steps away from my aunts, uncles, and my grandmother was less than a 5 minute car ride away. My parents pushed us to excel at school and sports, and we pretty much lived in the church. Michelle Obama shares her remembrances of living upstairs from her aunt and uncle. How her parents supported her and her brother without overwhelming. That she learned how to play the piano, but wanted to jump ahead to more fun songs. That she beat herself up if she didn't do well at all things.

There was so much good in this book that I ended up feeling like I got to know Michelle's father, mother, brother, and grandparents. She also talks about the migration that many African American's like her grandparents did in order to find work up north, and how it left them bitter about being passed over and not able to apply for union jobs. We just had a presentation at my job a few months ago about the Pullman Porters and I was intrigued to find out her uncle did that until he retired.



And slowly but surely Michelle has us follow her along to her highs while going to college in Princeton, and finally getting a great job at a law firm, where she would eventually meet Barack Obama.

I have to say that I was tickled to read about how Michelle first met Barack, and cracked up about her comments about his untidiness, but how he loved to read, had great ideas, and seemed to bowl people over within minutes of him meeting them. And it was lovely to read about how she realized she was in love with him and how they worked.

Michelle invites you into her life wholly. Nothing is held back. Not about how hard it was to be working with children while her husband was working as a part time professor and in the house. And then when he went onto lose his first Senate race because he chose her and their daughter over a vote about guns. And then we go back again to his next race, to him being selected to speak at the DNC, and how everything snowballed into the Presidency. And you read about how she got torn apart and picked apart with regards to her clothes, her hair, what she said, her expressions, etc. Michelle doesn't go into how hard it had to be to not show the world an angry black woman, but shit, I know, and I don't know how she wasn't throwing middle fingers at people.

She talks about Sandy Hook, the Charleston Church Shooting, and how she felt inadequate at times since she wanted to do more. I will never forgive our Congress for not doing more about gun violence until this latest election. Thank goodness the tide seems to be turning and people want commonsense gun laws.

She of course mentions Trump and his birtherism crap, how his racism about Barack Obama ended up of course leading him to the White House and his Presidency. I stand amazed everyday how racism is back in our faces in this country. That it's 2019 and we have members of the GOP arguing about white supremacy, that anytime a black person is shot the first thought is what did that person do? That even now with four cops shot by a couple who was white people seemed to be disappointed because they really wanted it to be immigrants who did it so they can get a wall that will be a symbol of racism and hate as long as it stands. I will be puzzled for life that some people no matter how much you talk to them, don't get why harboring racism sentiment is wrong and why I have no problem refusing to listen to their rhetoric and blocking them out of my life.

And through it all though, we have her still wanting to believe in the good of people. All I can say is "I hope" and keep pushing forward. ( )
  ObsidianBlue | Jul 1, 2020 |
This was as absorbing as I expected, and I recommend it highly.
The following overview contains spoilers... but you may well be already aware of these bare facts.
It is divided into 3 parts: "Becoming Me," about her life as Michelle Robinson, growing up on the South Side of Chicago. Her older brother Craig, her parents, and she lived on the top floor of her aunt's house. She tells of her youth, growing up, going to Princeton, getting her law degree, and joining a law firm in Chicago. And one summer, her law firm assigns her one of the new associates to mentor for the summer, before he returned to his law studies at Harvard. He had an unusual name: Barak Obama.
The second part is "Becoming Us." This is the tale of the two of them getting married, and meshing their busy lives. She changes jobs a couple times, finding her joy in work a non-profit, in the city government, and at the local university. And they have a couple daughters. Her husband, meanwhile, runs for State Senate, wins, then Senator from Illinois, wins, and starts thinking about running for President. Spoiler alert - he won that race, too.
The third part is "Becoming More," about her life in the White House, and her initiatives as First Lady, anchored against what else was happening in the world.
I enjoyed it thoroughly. Recommended. ( )
  EowynA | Jun 27, 2020 |
This was a phenomenal audiobook. I love that Michelle herself did the narration because it felt like I was just having a chat with her. She was so candid and although I already liked her, this book made me like her even more. ( )
  mplantenga11 | Jun 13, 2020 |
Showing 1-5 of 192 (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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Epigraph
Dedication
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)
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Grief and resilience live together.
I spent much of my childhood listening to the sound of striving.
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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