Book Review: Becoming

Book Reviewed by Amanda Robinson

Being a Black woman in America right now comes with a great deal of scrutiny. We are praised for our diversity, yet simultaneously cast aside for our uniqueness. While this is a heavy load to bear, being the first African American First Lady of the United States of America is exponentially more difficult. In her recently released memoir, Becoming, Michelle Obama bares it all for readers, unleashing some of her most intimate thoughts and feelings.

Michelle Obama’s story is told with the same eloquence, grace, and class that she presents to us in real life. Her writing style vastly mirrors her personality; it is paradoxically simplistic, yet profound. A slow painted picture is created from every level of schooling, every blossomed friendship, and every life experience that this woman bent on success transcribes for us.

Considering all that she has accomplished, it can be hard to imagine our forever First Lady being a victim of poverty or hardship. Yet, Obama commences her account by recalling being reared in the south side of Chicago, and tells of her childhood without skipping a beat. We are almost present in her too small apartment as she plays with her older brother, Craig, and receives piano lessons from her great aunt, Robbie. We are invited into her childhood classrooms and the experiences that helped to mold her tenacious spirit. She cordially solicits our presence into the humble beginnings of a courtship that has blossomed into one of the most genuine and revered examples of love that the general public has ever seen. We see the beautiful, the ugly, the rewarding, and the laborious sides of politics, as the lives of her and her children changed completely after her husband’s victory. We mourn with her as she laments the death of loved ones, and rejoice with her as she celebrates varied milestones.

For a public figure with the reputation that Mrs. Obama has, the minutiae of details might make her seem loquacious. However, the details allow us to take her off of a pedestal and relate to her. The ability to connect with her humanity is magnified through her story, breaking down the barrier of hierarchy. I spent most of my time reading this book while on New York City buses and trains. More often than not, my fellow New Yorkers would strike up a conversation with me about the book. This is a testament that people respect who Michelle Obama is, and are excited to read about her truths, tragedies, and triumphs. I have been deeply and thoroughly encouraged by Obama’s words, and I am certain that anyone who touches this book will feel the same way.

Read Crown’s description of Becoming.
Black Power Line

More AALBC Book Reviews ▶