Since she became a public figure during the first presidential campaign of her husband, I have felt an affinity with Michelle Robinson Obama. While on the surface it would seem that an African-American woman from the South Side of Chicago couldn’t have much in common with a European-American from a tiny New England town, there are a number of similarities. We are close in age, having been born in the last few years of the Baby Boom. I have long felt that we youngest of the Boomers, who were young adults during the Reagan recession when unemployment was high and mortgage rates even higher, are fundamentally different from the elder members of our cohort. Michelle and I are both mothers of two daughters and women who have been blessed with a close and long relationship with our own mothers. We have close women friends and mentors. We are both community-minded, and also recognize the importance of educational opportunity for ourselves and others. We each have a long, loving, and intact marriage. And we are both women of our time, which means we have experienced sexism and the challenge of tending to both our private and public lives.
Becoming, Michelle Obama’s memoir published late last year, reinforces my sense of her on all these points. She writes honestly and beautifully; I was especially impressed with the way she wrote about her feelings about what was happening and not just the events themselves. She also frequently gives context of what happens either before or later with a particular place or event, such as the changes over time in her South Side neighborhood.
I particularly enjoyed reading about Michelle’s childhood, teen, and college years, as the stories from that time before she was a public figure were mostly new to me. I also appreciated knowing how she felt about many events and causes during the campaigns and her eight years in the White House, as well as her take on the current president.
What was most enlightening to me was hearing how being a black female impacted her life at every stage and added to the pressure to excel and to be an exemplary person at all times. As the first African-American first family, it seemed that every move the Obamas made was scrutinized. I admire that Michelle and her mom, who was also in residence at the White House, were able to protect First Daughters Malia and Sasha from most of the intrusiveness of the press corps so that they could grow up (mostly) out of the public eye.
Many people share my admiration for Michelle Obama and her accomplishments. Her book tour includes venues that seat thousands of people and her book has sold over three million copies, making it the bestseller of 2018.
She can definitely add best-selling author to her already impressive resume.
4 thoughts on “Reading Michelle Obama’s memoir”
Great job on this post. Makes me want to read the book. Best compliment I can give. And, by the way, there’s a website/blog out of a public library in Greenville, Ohio that publishes book reviews, poetry, and art. Its name is Fourth & Sycamore. You might want to send it to them. They are always looking for reviewers. It’s the only
library I know that publishes a literary magazine. I heartily approve.
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Thanks so much, Kyle! I’m glad the post works and engenders interest in the book. I’ll try to look up Fourth & Sycamore and see how they do submissions. Given that I haven’t been able to finish revisions/additions on either manuscript, I might as well try submitting a review that is already out there.
Great review! I also enjoyed this book immensely. She has such an authentic voice. Sharing the backstory of her time in DC was fascinating. I am only a few years older than she is, so I agree – sharing the age bracket adds to the enjoyment of her story! My adult long distance daughter and I also have our own “mother-daughter” book club (her idea!) and will be discussing this book soon. She was able to see Michelle do a reading in DC when the book came out…and was doubly impressed 🙂
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Thanks! I’m glad that you also enjoyed the book. I’m sure it will be fascinating to discuss it with your daughter. How lucky she is to have attended a reading with Michelle! I wish she would come to my area, but we aren’t a big enough population center to warrant it.